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HAR last traded A$0.003 on November 17
November 25 -- Haranga Resources Limited ('the Company') advises that its nonrenounceable rights issue of 1 new share for every 3 shares held, at an issue price of $0.003 per share ('Rights Issue') closed on 22 November 2016.
In accordance with Appendix 7A of the ASX Listing Rules, the Company advises that it received valid entitlement issue acceptances for 23,680,471 shares and shortfall offer applications for 12,681,104 shares resulting in the issue of a total of 36,361,575 new shares. The remaining shortfall balance consists of 113,026,535 shares.
The Directors are presently reviewing the options available to the Company in regards to the shortfall shares.
The total funds raised from the issue of the 36,361,575 new shares is approximately $109,085 before costs.
VKA closed -16.67% Friday to A$0.02
· Placement to sophisticated investors to raise $1.27 million, led by DJ Carmichael
· Funds will accelerate exploration of the recently acquired lithium project
· Funding to fast track metallurgical test work for the lithium carbonate plant
November 25 -- Viking Mines Limited (ASX:VKA, Company) is pleased to announce that it has received applications for a $1.27 million placement to professional and sophisticated investors through the issue of 62.7 million new shares at 2.02 cents per share (Placement).
Leading Perth based broker DJ Carmichael Limited (DJC) acted as adviser to the Company in relation to the Argo Metals Group Pte Limited (Argo) transaction and Lead Manager to the Placement.
Funds raised pursuant to the Placement will be used primarily to accelerate exploration of the Company's newly acquired lithium project located in Thailand.
Executive Chairman Jack Gardner stated that "Following the acquisition of the Thailand lithium project and the option over the tungsten project, Placement funds will provide Viking with additional working capital to quickly advance the Company's activities without drawing upon its current cash assets. In addition, we are excited about the potential to produce chemical grade lithium carbonate from our Thailand based lithium asset."
Section 708A Notice
PCY closed +7.94% Friday to C$3.40
Vancouver, British Columbia, November 25 (FSCwire) - Prophecy Development Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY, OTC:PRPCD, Frankfurt:1P2N) announces that John Lee, of Suite 1301, 12 Harcourt Road, Central, Hong Kong, Executive Chairman of the Company, acquired 15,000 shares of Prophecy (the "Acquisition") through trading in the secondary market (i.e. the Toronto Stock Exchange) on November 24, 2016.
Prior to the Acquisition, Mr. Lee beneficially owned 1,112,253 shares, representing approximately 23.14% of the issued and outstanding shares of the Company.
As a result of the Acquisition, Mr. Lee now beneficially owns and exercises control over an aggregate of 1,127,253 shares representing an interest of approximately 23.45% of the Company's currently issued and outstanding shares, and 35.00% of the Company's shares on a fully diluted basis assuming exercise of all of the Company's outstanding share purchase warrants.
The securities were acquired by Mr. Lee for investment purposes only, and not for purposes of exercising control or direction over the Company.
Generally, Mr. Lee intends to evaluate his investment in the Company and to increase or decrease his shareholdings as circumstances require, depending on market conditions and other factors, through market transactions, private agreements or otherwise.
CPS Capital's Jason Peterson Becomes Substantial Holder in Draig Resources
November 28, Draig Resources Ltd. (ASX:DRG) --
TRQ closed +1.98% Friday to US$3.61
November 24 -- Rio Tinto announces that Simon Thompson, who joined the Boards of Rio Tinto plc and Rio Tinto Limited on 1 April 2014 as a non-executive director, has been appointed a member of the Remuneration Committee with immediate effect.
November 24 (Australian Financial Review) Uncertainty over the speed of China's economic reforms has convinced Rio Tinto to further slow the expansion of its iron ore division, with chief executive Jean Sebastien Jacques labelling political decisions in the Middle Kingdom "a black box".
Despite stronger than expected iron ore prices during 2016, Rio appears unlikely to achieve its 360 million tonne iron ore export target before 2019. And in a major change of rhetoric, Mr Jacques said he would be prepared to reduce iron ore production if that were the best way to generate value.
The cautious stance towards China came as Mr Jacques broke his silence over the Guinea payments scandal and vowed to liberate $US5 billion ($6.75 billion) of free cash flow over the next five years through further productivity gains.
China sparked an extraordinary rally in coal prices this year when it ordered its domestic miners to produce less coal, and Mr Jacques said similar shocks could create positive or negative outcomes in the iron ore market where Rio generates more than 80 per cent of its income.
"There is a key source of uncertainty about the speed of restructuring the SOEs (Chinese state-owned enterprises), that could have a positive impact or a negative impact," he said.
"We need to acknowledge the Chinese decision-making is something that is a black box."
He said Rio's long-held prediction that Chinese steel production would peak near 1 billion tonnes a year was no longer the company's "central" scenario prediction.
"With the level of uncertainty in relation to the SOE restructuring, no one can work with only one scenario...we work with multiple scenarios and our central case is not 1 billion tonnes," he said.
While China is producing much less iron ore than its 400 million tonne a year capacity, Mr Jacques said the nation had produced more than he had expected in 2016, and future production levels were unclear.
"If you asked me the question six months ago I would have said we believe this year [Chinese miners] are going produce 230 million tonnes of iron ore. Today our understanding is they are producing 260 to 270 million tonnes," he said.
"A swing from 260 million tonnes to 400 million tonnes could change totally the supply and demand balance."
New Vale project due
Brazilian miner Vale is preparing to bring its large new S11D iron ore project onto the market in 2017, prompting some pundits to predict prices will be softer than the $US55.92 a tonne they have averaged in 2016.
But Rio said it expects new sources of iron ore supply to be offset by other producers leaving the market.
Rio still expects to ship between 330 million and 340 million tonnes of iron ore in 2017, and it will need to complete both the Silvergrass mine project and deploy its autonomous trains before it can reach the 360 million tonne a year export target.
The autonomous trains were supposed to be in place by 2015, but Rio said full implementation would not be achieved until the end of 2018.
The company also faces some important decisions over the next three years as to whether it will spend several billion dollars a year replacing iron ore mines like Tom Price, which are soon expected to be exhausted.
Rio said it was looking at low-cost mine expansions to help fill the void left by mine depletion, but it was also considering spending $US2.2 billion in 2019 on a new 40 million tonne greenfields mine called Koodaderi, which would deliver its first production in 2021.
But in keeping with his vow to pursue value over volume, Mr Jacques said he would consider not replacing the mines and ceding market share if that strategy generated the most value for shareholders.
"If it means reducing the volume, we will do it," he said.
Rio is enjoying margins (on an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation basis) in the iron ore division of around 58 per cent, and UBS analyst Glyn Lawcock said iron ore prices would need to deteriorate significantly before Rio allowed its production to decline.
"What you wouldn't expect them to do is in a flat market cede market share," he said.
"The key message is spend as little capital as possible and grow the business as much as possible."
The extra spending on iron ore plus existing growth projects at Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi copper mine and Queensland's Amrun bauxite expansion, will see Rio's capital spending creep up from $US3.5 billion in 2016 to $US5 billion in 2017 and $US5.5 billion in 2018.
Exploration spending has also started creeping higher after years of cutbacks.
If recent commodity prices were to prevail, Rio would generate $US10 billion of cash flow in 2017, meaning dividends could rise again less than a year after Rio's progressive dividend policy was axed..
Speaking publicly for the first time since two Rio executives were sacked over a payment scandal in Guinea, Mr Jacques said he took integrity very seriously, and there were signs Rio will focus more on developed nations where sovereign risk is lower..
The company has sold more than half of its African assets over the past seven years, and it was announced on Thursday that its exploration teams will spend more of their time in OECD nations in the near future.
When asked if he would try to re-focus Rio's portfolio on OECD nations during his term in charge, Mr Jacques said "there are some regions today where we believe we cannot operate".
But he said he would not give up on working in the developing world altogether; a situation Rio could not realistically contemplate given its most important growth asset, the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, is in Mongolia.
Mr Jacques said it was too early to know if Rio would include a provision in its half year accounts in February for the Simandou payment scandal, which recently resulted in the sacking of energy and minerals boss Alan Davies and legal affairs boss Debra Valentine.
"Recent events related to Simandou have been very challenging," said Mr Jacques on Thursday.
"We cannot say any more than our public statements and it is now with the relevant authorities. But what you need to know is the following; I take integrity and our code of conduct very seriously, for me it is absolutely non-negotiable, we must do the right thing wherever we operate."
Big shareholders told The Australian Financial Review this week that Rio's investibility had not been damaged by the Guinea scandal, despite Mr Davies threatening to take the company to court over his sacking.
Rio is believed to be keen to divest from coal, and Mr Jacques said a short term rally in coal prices would not change the company's long-term view of the commodity.
Rio Tinto sets out plan for $5bn cash flow boost by 2021 – Mining Weekly, November 24
November 24 (gogo.mn) Erdenes Mongol LLC and the Ministry of Mining planned and prepared to hold a roundtable meeting entitled "Why should investors pay attention to Mongolia" with the attendance of international investors. But yesterday, with only 3 days to go, the government decided to make 26 November a holiday celebrating Mongolia's independence.
Because 26 November 2016 falls on a weekend, the government decided to shift the Independence Day holiday to the preceding Friday.
Therefore, despite the time, effort and costs incurred by Erdenes Mongol LLC in preparing the event, the Ministry of Mining decided to postpone the conference. At this stage, no announcement has been made as to when the conference might be held.
November 24 (MSE) --
November 24 (MSE) --
Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.
USD (blue), CNY (red) vs MNT in last 1 year:
November 24 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid MNT 2445.00-2475.72 for USD61.85 million and MNT 348.00-357.06 for CNY93.5 million respectively. The BoM sold USD48.5 million with a single rate of MNT 2460.00.
Swap and forward trade: The BoM received bid offers of USD1.0 million of MNT swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM did not accept any bid offers.
November 24 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 35 billion at a weighted interest rate of 15.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
The Mongolian sovereign has been dealt a blow after Moody's downgraded its rating last Friday, followed by Fitch on Tuesday.
November 24 (Global Capital) Moody's downgraded Mongolia's long-term issuer and senior unsecured rating from B3 to Caa1, reflecting the agency's lack of faith in the country's ability to control its dire budget deficit.
"We have concluded that the government's fiscal strength, and the Mongolian economy's external position, have deteriorated significantly," said Moody's ...
Link to article (behind paywall)
November 24 (UB Post) In the first three quarters of 2016, cashmere valued at 26 million USD was exported, a 10 percent decrease compared to last year's figures.
The total volume of cashmere exported was 398.4 tons, a 3.2 percent increase compared to last year.
Italy accounted for 74 percent of all exports, the U.K. imported 12 percent, and 8.5 percent was exported to China. Japan only accounted for 1.1 percent of cashmere exports.
Four months ago, Mongolia and Japan signed an economic partnership agreement stating that no tariffs would be imposed on cashmere products. According to Gobi Cashmere, this move will encourage Japanese customers to buy Mongolian cashmere.
The export of cashmere to Japan in 2016 was 3.8 times higher than 2015. Japan primarily imports finished cashmere products. Cashmere exported to Italy, the U.K., and China is mainly processed cashmere and not finished products.
November 26 (IFR Asia) ---
Link to article (behind paywall)
- Oct coal imports overall jump 55 pct to 21.58 mln tonnes
- Mongolia imports rocket 221 pct from year ago
- 'Domestic supply still smaller than expected' -analyst
(Adds detail from data and analyst comment)
BEIJING, Nov 25 (Reuters) - China's imports of coal from Mongolia more than tripled in October from the same month a year before, customs data showed, reflecting tight supply in the domestic market that stoked much bigger shipments from foreign producers to meet demand.
Output from domestic miners has been shrinking as a result of China's campaign to cut back overcapacity in its coal industry. That helped overall coal imports last month climb 55 percent to 21.58 million tonnes - a number likely to add urgency to a new push by Beijing calling on miners to raise output.
Imports from Mongolia - mainly coking coal, used in steel-making - stood out among the October numbers, rocketing 221 percent to 2.31 million tonnes. October's data brought year-to-date imports overall to 201 million tonnes, 18 percent more than a year ago.
"Domestic supply is still smaller than expected, as coal miners have strong concern of production safety and are reluctant to expand output," said Zhang Min, coal analyst at Sublime China Information Group.
The tightness of domestic supply has sent prices much higher this year. Coking coal prices at Dalian Commodity Exchange DJMcv1 have surged 185 percent since the beginning of 2016.
A key part of China's drive to upgrade the domestic coal industry is conducting safety inspections at mines through to the end of year.
"It takes time for coal miners to lift output. The domestic market is expected to be short in supply until January," said analyst Zhang.
Shipments from Australia increased 32.2 percent in October from a year earlier to 5.4 million tonnes, while imports from Indonesia jumped 57.9 percent at 3.25 million tonnes, customs data also showed on Friday.
Imports from North Korea rose 38.8 percent to 1.82 million tonnes, according to the data.
Much of the interest in the metal has come from speculative buyers in China
November 25 (WSJ) Copper prices rose to a 17-month high Friday, boosted by an improving demand outlook and a weaker U.S. dollar.
Copper for March delivery settled up 2.5% at $2.6815 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, closing out its fourth consecutive day of gains at the highest level since June 2015.
Prices have benefited in recent weeks from upbeat economic data and infrastructure plans in China and the U.S., which could help reignite demand for copper. While China import data showed weak copper imports in October, recent sentiment that consumption is ripe for a turnaround helped keep prices supported on Friday.
"Market participants might be persuaded that the data is highlighting underlying weakness in the world's largest copper consumer," Barclaysanalysts wrote in a Friday note. "However, we do not think this is signaling weakness in underlying copper demand and expect a rebound in China's copper imports soon."
Copper also benefited from a weaker U.S. dollar Friday. The WSJ Dollar Index was recently down 0.3% at 91.79. Dollar-denominated commodities like copper become cheaper for foreign buyers when the U.S. currency weakens.
Much of the interest in copper has come from speculative buyers in China, according to traders and analysts, which has raised concerns that the market could turn around rapidly if investors withdraw. The Shanghai Futures Exchange already has raised margins and trading limits on base-metal futures contracts in a bid to rein in the exuberance of speculative traders.
Bullish speculators leave the market "susceptible to shocks and a rapid retracement," Liberum Capital said in a note.
According to brokerage firm Marex Spectron, the share of the LME copper market owned by bullish speculators recently reached the highest level since 2006.
The London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract closed up 0.2% at $5,879.00 a metric ton. Other base metals were mixed on Friday. Aluminum prices fell 0.7% to $1,757.00 a ton, tin fell 2% to $20,925.00 a ton and nickel fell 0.2% to $11,560.00 a ton.
Zinc prices surged 3.5% to $2,819.00 a ton, trading at the highest level since 2008. Lead also rose to a multiyear high, up 6.7% at $2,391.50 a ton.
Tightening Copper Market Seen Spurring Investment, Peru Says – Bloomberg, November 25
Canada has joined a growing list of countries phasing out the most polluting fossil fuel and global demand has fallen. Is this the start of a low-carbon energy era or just a blip in coal's dominance?
November 25 (The Guardian) This week Canada joined the growing list of major developed countries saying they will phase out coal power.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of global demand for coal falling last year for the first time in nearly two decades, a development that could presage a new era of lower-carbon energy generation – or merely a blip in the long-term dominance of the highly polluting fuel.
The reversal of the upward trend in demand for coal marked "an inflexion point" for the world economy, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the gold standard for energy data. Since the 1990s, coal use soared in tandem with the rapidly developing economies of Asia, chiefly China and to a lesser extent India. By 2015, coal was taking a 41% share of global electricity generation.
These factors, combined with the seemingly unstoppable rise of natural gas that has followed the fracking revolution, have led to coal being at its current crossroads.
An increasing number of developed countries have moved to regulate, penalise and begin to phase out coal-fired power generation. In the UK, the government has pledged to phase out coal by 2025. France, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Germany have similar plans, with differing timescales.
In the US, regulation has been slower to come but the economics of coal have changed markedly. Thanks to low natural gas prices as a result of the fracking revolution, for the first time in history as much US electricity was generated from gas last year as from coal.
By 2030, under Canada's plans, there will be no more coal-fired power generation in the country, with the gap to be filled by renewable or other "sustainable" forms of power. Kathleen McKenna, environment minister, said: "Taking traditional coal power out of our energy mix and replacing it with cleaner technologies will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, improve health and benefit generations to come."
China is where the changing fortunes of coal can be most clearly seen. According to the IEA, demand for coal stalled there in 2014, and according to some estimates fell by 3% last year. The faltering of China's phenomenal growth rates has been one reason, but government policy has also played a major role, spurring investment in renewables and cutting down on the dirtiest coal to try to tackle some of the worst pollution.
China is still unusual, however. Most of the world's less industrialised economies, particularly those in Asia, are planning to increase their dependence on coal rather than follow Beijing's lead.
This risks opening up a split whereby developed countries close down their most polluting fossil fuel assets, while developing countries continue to open them up. In the IEA's projections, global coal demand is seen as likely to rebound to 2014 levels by as soon as the end of this decade, driven by growth in India and south-east Asia. This could be enough to more than offset declining demand in Europe, north America and China.
What will make the difference is whether governments adhere to the promises made in the Paris agreement to limit global warming, and whether investment is available for poorer countries to move away from the most polluting fuels.
Simon Bullock, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: "Like going straight to mobile without bothering with landlines, developing countries can bypass dirty coal and gas and go straight to renewables.
"The main stumbling block remains the upfront investment and technology. For coal the only real costs are a person with a shovel. That's why we need a global renewable energy fund, to help developing countries leapfrog coal and go straight to renewables."
Despite the problems coal causes, in climate change and air pollution, the World Coal Association sees a strong future for the fuel, in both the developing and developed world. Its chief executive, Benjamin Sporton,said: "Developed countries will continue to use coal for decades to come, and developing countries will increase [their use]. There are new high-efficiency technologies that reduce emissions, and developments in carbon capture and storage. Coalis a reliable fuel."
One of the most scrutinised markets for coal in the next few years will be the US, where president-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to revive the fortunes of the coal industry.
However, he may be fighting against economic reality. Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, said: "Coal is losing ground because it is losing competitiveness. In the US gas is cheaper than coal. Gas will be a very economic option [for decades] unless there are new government policies and new fiscal measures to change the balance."
Such measures would be expensive, and paid for by consumers and taxpayers. Changing economics, led by fracking, may yet prevent the US from returning to the old days of King Coal.
November 25 (Reuters) China's iron ore imports from India surged in October and purchases from Australia grew slightly, data showed on Friday, with total shipments to the world's top buyer of the steelmaking commodity on course to top 1 billion tonnes this year.
Shipments from Australia, which account for nearly two-thirds of China's imports, rose 3 percent to 49.89 million tonnes last month, according to China's official customs data. Shipments from No. 2 supplier Brazil increased 17 percent to 17.88 million tonnes.
China's total iron ore imports were 80.8 million tonnes in October, the lowest since February, but the biggest volume ever for the month of October.
That brought total imports to 843.31 million tonnes in January to October, up 9 percent from a year earlier, and on track to top last year's 952.84 million tonnes.
"We can easily see over 1 billion tonnes for the full year. I don't think there's any disruption from the production side overseas," said Helen Lau, analyst at Argonaut Securities. Lau has forecast a 9 percent increase in China's iron ore imports to 1.038 billion tonnes this year.
Imports from India reached 1.02 million tonnes last month, up sharply from 75,565 tonnes a year ago. For January to October, shipments from India surged eight-fold to 11.4 million tonnes.
India used to be the third-biggest supplier of iron ore to China until mining bans in recent years and higher taxes curbed output and exports. India's Supreme Court lifted the mining ban in top iron ore exporting state Goa in 2014 and fresh mining began months after.
"Indian shipments are rising due to better prices," said Dhruv Goel, managing partner at consultancy SteelMint. India's total iron ore exports have exceeded 15 million tonnes in January to October and may reach 17 to 18 million tonnes for the full year, he said.
* Overall holdings in gold ETFs fall 5 pct since Nov 9
* Market sees near 100 pct chance of December U.S. rate hike
(Updates prices; adds comment, second byline, datelines)
NEW YORK/LONDON, Nov 25 (Reuters) Gold prices steadied after falling to 9-1/2 month lows on Friday, heading for a third consecutive weekly decline as investors sold on factors including expectations of a U.S. interest rate rise.
Spot gold was down 0.03 percent at $1,182.88 an ounce by 2:15 p.m. EST (1915 GMT), after tapping $1,171.21, its lowest since Feb. 8, as funds took profits on short positions. The precious metal has fallen more than 7 percent so far in November, leaving it on track for its largest monthly fall since June 2013.
U.S. gold futures settled down 0.9 percent at $1,178.40, after dipping to their lowest since Feb. 5 at $1,170.30.
"Investors are still retreating from gold, though prices falling below $1,200 has promoted some profit-taking," said Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg.
"Gold is being driven by many factors including equity markets, currency markets and expectations of higher U.S. interest rates, which are going to be a huge burden."
Equity markets have rallied since Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election.
"The rising dollar, yields and U.S. equity prices all weighed on the appeal of the buck-denominated, non interest-bearing and perceived safe-haven precious metal," said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst for Forex.com.
"In terms of the dollar, the slight weakness we have observed at the end of this week could very well turn out to be temporary even if a December rate rise may already be priced in."
Though the U.S. dollar fell against a basket of major currencies on Friday, it was on track to close higher for the third straight week after reaching the highest since March 2003.
Markets are now pricing in a nearly 100 percent probability that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise rates at its December meeting, according to CME FedWatch.
That would further boost the dollar, making commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Overall holdings of physical gold in exchange traded funds (ETF) have fallen more than 5 percent to 54.135 million ounces since Nov. 9, the day after the election.
"A further test of the downside cannot be ruled out just yet, especially as ETF liquidations persist," UBS analysts said in a note.
Traders say the U.S. monthly jobs report due on Dec. 2 will be key to market sentiment.
Elsewhere, silver gained 1.4 percent at $16.48 an ounce and palladium rose 1.65 percent at $741.
Platinum fell 1.15 percent at $903, after reachingits lowest since Feb. 8 at $899.50.
Cartel needs to cut in excess of 1m barrels a day to meet target of 32.5m b/d set in September
November 27 (FT) Some of the world's biggest oil traders have delivered a stark warning to the Opec cartel, saying a failure to sign-off on a production cut this week will trigger another dramatic drop in crude prices.
The 14-member producer group meets in Vienna on Wednesday to try and secure the first supply deal since the financial crisis, after a two-year downturn that has decimated their budgets and upended the global oil industry.
While all sides have talked up the possibility of cutting output, with fears excess supplies could continue to plague the market well into 2017, negotiations are going down to the wire.
The group will need to cut in excess of 1m barrels a day to hit its target of 32.5m b/d that was set in a provisional accord in September.
"We think Opec will reach an agreement," said Torbjörn Törnqvist, chief executive of Gunvor Group, one of the world's largest independent oil traders.
"However, if they walk away without a deal the market will punish that result possibly $10 barrel or more."
Opec, which pumps one in three barrels of crude globally, is at odds over how to divide a cut, with Iran and Iraq disputing the extent of their participation. Attention is also on big producers outside of the cartel, primarily Russia, who Saudi Arabia has pushed to take part.
Oil prices have swung sharply since Opec provisionally agreed to pursue output cuts in Algiers two months ago, touching a year-high of $53 a barrel before dropping almost 20 per cent by mid-November, as hedge funds slashed bets on the outcome of the deal.
Brent crude oil dropped 4 per cent on Friday to close near $47 a barrel, giving up almost all its gains for the week following five days of volatile trading.
"Recent Opec positions seem to indicate a serious attempt to restore co-ordination," said Franco Magnani, chief executive of Italian oil major Eni's trading arm.
"[But] we expect some short-term turbulence in the oil market, especially in the case of no agreement."
On Friday, Opec's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia said it would will not attend a meeting with non-Opec producers such as Russia and Kazakhstan on Monday until the cartel reaches its own deal.
Iran — whose output is recovering after years under western sanctions — has argued it should be treated like conflict-hit producers Libya and Nigeria, which will be exempt from cuts.
Opec delegates said Iran offered a compromise in September of capping output near its pre-sanctions production levels around 4m b/d, but Tehran has not yet publicly committed to the details of any such deal.
Iraq, meanwhile, has reluctantly said it would cut output, but disputed the underlying figures from which curbs would be calculated, saying numbers provided to Opec by secondary sources undercounted its output.
"It hard to know what is posturing as part of a negotiating position, and what is an absolute red line," said Yasser Elguindi at Medley Global Advisors.
"It is important to remember that when playing a game of chicken, one side ultimately has to blink to avoid a head-on collision."
Two years ago Saudi Arabia led the group in embarking on a pump-at-will policy as a means of sinking higher cost producers such US shale, whose rapid growth during the $100 oil era of 2008-2014 threatened to take customers from Opec.
But two years on the ensuing price crash has been deeper and longer than Saudi Arabia first anticipated.
Output has fallen in the US since peaking in early 2015, but has stabilised in recent months, with most shale producers saying they are competitive at far lower price levels than before the crash.
Saudi Arabia needs a higher price to help stop a sharp economic downturn and to fund its decision to move towards a post-oil economy — it also fears a near trillion dollar drop in global oil investment may create future supply shortages.
Riyadh will not cut alone, however, as the kingdom no longer wants to be seen as the world's swing producer, called on to raise and lower output as the market requires.
To reinforce that point Saudi Arabia wants to win the backing from big producers both inside and outside the cartel, especially Russia, as part of a broader global deal. A combined cut with Opec could, in theory, remove as much as 1.5m b/d from the market.
"I'm still optimistic that the consensus reached in Algeria for capping production will translate, God willing, into caps on states' levels and fair and balanced cuts among countries," Saudi Arabia's energy minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier this month.
Russia pledged to support Saudi Arabia's efforts to stabilise the oil market in September, but has since accelerated production to a post-Soviet era record of more than 11m b/d.
Russia said an offer to freeze its output — should Opec reach a deal — equalled a de facto cut given higher production forecasts for next year.
Kiru Rajasingam, a head oil trader at investment bank Citi, said the outlook for the oil market has deteriorated since the Algiers meeting as global supplies had risen further.
"A cut may no longer be able to raise prices by much," said Mr Rajasingam. "But failure to reach a deal will probably mean the market remains under pressure next year."
The Economy Needs Higher Oil Prices – Goldman Sachs – OilPrice.com, November 24
1. China Cancellation
2. Mongolian Ambassadors
3. Independence Day
4. Winter Warning
Cabinet forms working group to draft constitutional amendments
Ulaanbaatar, November 24 (MONTSAME) At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the cabinet resolved to set up a working group in charge of developing the draft amendments to the Constitution. An expanded representation of scholars, researchers and lawyers, specialized in constitutional law will be involved.
Chief of the Cabinet Secretariat and Minister of Mongolia J.Munkhbat and Minister of Justice and Domestic Affairs S.Byambatsogt were assigned to present the composition of the working group to the cabinet at the next cabinet meeting.
November 25 (UB Post) At a recent meeting of Parliament's Economic Standing Committee, State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance B.Nyamaa reported that if State Bank is to be fully privatized, the minimum amount of the sale would be 300 billion MNT.
The recently approved state budget states that the privatization of State Bank could bring in revenue of 75 billion MNT. It was reported that this amount was only taking into account the 25 percent of State Bank owned by the Ministry of Finance. Taking into account the 75 percent of State Bank owned by Deposit Insurance Corporation of Mongolia, the value of State Bank was calculated to be a minimum of 300 billion MNT.
State Bank has a statutory reserve of 113 billion MNT and active assets of 2.9 trillion MNT. The net income of the bank was calculated to be 7.57 billion MNT as of the third quarter of 2016.
November 25 (UB Post) During Cabinet's weekly Wednesday meeting, its ministers discussed issues facing the healthcare sector, and amendments to the Constitution.
Cabinet members approved guidelines for the matters to be discussed during a meeting of the Mongolia-Russia intergovernmental commission, which will be held from December 11 to 13, in Ulaanbaatar. Cooperation in trade, the economy, infrastructure, transportation, mining, energy, and the humanitarian sector will be discussed during the meeting.
The ministers allowed the state to pay for the medical expenditures of people requiring hemodialysis. There are 27 public and private medical centers operating 169 dialysis machines. According to medical data, there are 564 patients in Mongolia requiring treatment for kidney failure.
Cabinet also decided to dispatch 22 emergency vehicles to soum hospitals lacking adequate emergency vehicles. Prime Minister J.Erdenebat instructed Cabinet Secretariat J.Munkhbat and Minister of Justice and Interior Affairs S.Byambatsogt to set up a task force including legal scholars and specialists and experienced lawyers to cooperate on making amendments to the Constitution.
November 24 (news.mn) Vice Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry Kh.Badamsuren has been appointed as director of the Erdenet Mining Corporation (EMC), one of the biggest ore mining and processing plants in Asia. The EMC board confirmed the decision at a meeting earlier today (24th of November).
The director of EMC is selected by a 66% vote of board members, according to Ts.Nyam-ochir, head of the Government Procurement Agency of Mongolia. The executive board consists of seven members; four of them are delegated by the Mongolian government, which owns 51% of EMC; the other three are from the Mongolian Copper Corporation (MCC), which owns the 49% balance of EMC shares.
Kh.Badamsuren, 61, previously worked as a director of the Mongolrostsvetmet LLC from 1994-2006. He was a member of the Mongolian parliament in 2008-2012 and worked as a civil servant for 32 years.
Kh.Badamsuren appointed EMC Director-General – Montsame, November 24
Kh.Badamsuren appointed head of Erdenet Mining Corporation – UB Post, November 25
November 24 (news.mn) Earlier today, the Mongolian Parliament approved draft law of joining Marrakesh Agreement which was established by the World Trade Organization.
Marrakesh Agreement was signed, not surprisingly, in Marrakesh, Morocco, by 124 nations on 15 April 1994. The agreement developed out of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), supplemented by a number of other agreements on issues including trade in services, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, trade-related aspects of intellectual property and technical barriers to trade.
ULAANBAATAR, November 24 (GoGo Mongolia) - 'Behind Closed Doors' art instillation piece initiated by the Mongolian feminist advocacy group Women for Change, in collaboration with Beautiful Hearts Against Sexual Violence and supported by the Canada Fund displayed at Shangri-La Mall today.
Mongolian feminist advocacy group Women for Change, in collaboration with Beautiful Hearts Against Sexual Violence will take a novel approach to the nation's growing domestic violence crisis, launching the provocative 'Behind Closed Doors' art instillation piece in Ulaanbaatar between the 17th and 30th of November. 'Behind Closed Doors' draws attention to changes to Mongolia's domestic violence laws that do not go far enough to protect women and children.
'Behind Closed Doors' is timely and draws attention proposed changes to Mongolia's domestic violence legislation. In December 2015 Mongolia's parliament dominated by the Democratic Party created changes to criminal law that were to be implemented in 2017, however their loss in the 2016 election means this will not occur. Following the election of the Mongolian People's Party, parliament has stated that they will not be implementing the law reform and have proposed their own changes.
With the local National Center Against Violence (NCAV) estimating that one in three Mongolian women has experienced domestic violence, 'Behind Closed Doors' aims to raise awareness of this critical issue and show how important law reform is. Furthermore, it aims to challenge the public to realize that domestic violence isn't always a bloodied nose or a black eye. It also includes bullying, naming, shaming, controlling behavior, sexual, emotional and psychological violence. Most importantly, it is to urge parliament to pass the 5 Laws: Law Against Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Code, Law Enforcement Law and The Law on Court Decision
70 percent of all police call-outs relate to domestic violence, although few cases go to court and prosecution rates are low. In 2015, 88.1 percent of victims of reported cases of domestic violence were women.
As the public can be desensitized to data and statistics Women for Change and Beautiful Hearts Against Sexual Violence have chosen to use art to reinvigorate the conversation around domestic violence. 'Behind Closed Doors' is an interactive, sensory experience. The portable installation features a vibrating table to emulate the anxiety felt during emotional abuse. Headphones will contain voice actors repeating the threats and abuse that many women in Mongolia are exposed to daily.
Women for Change, and Beautiful Hearts Against Sexual Violence staff and volunteers will be on hand to debrief with participants about their feelings and share information about domestic violence, law reform and support services available in Mongolia. Volunteers are trained to debrief if trauma or retraumatisation occurs.
The 'Behind Closed Doors' art installation is supported by the Canada Fund.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Mongolia Eelco (Ed) Jager attended the opening of art installation at the Shangri-La Mall today. He delivered opening remarks and highlighted:
"The campaign aims to raise awareness against domestic violence. Canada and Mongolia have shared concerns about family violence that disturbs well being of all people. Canada is strong supported of human rights. Specifically, Canada strongly protects the rights of members within the family from domestic violence. We took it very seriously at home. Government agencies work very closely together to try to prevent and eliminate all forms of domestic violence. Working with Beautiful Hearts and Women for Change, is just one of series of things we have been trying to do in assistance with Mongolia, respect the decision. We have funded and supported the NGOs, small projects for 20 years. We have also cooperate with Parliament and other member of parliament to try to bring positive change and legislative improvements that help to protect Mongolians.
This installation is a wonderful. It is a very createtive and concrete way of bringing the message home to people. I have experienced it myself and I can tell you that is impressive both in a negative way and a positive way. Postive, because I think it is so wonderful that we have this way of bringing the message across. Negative, in that the message so badly need to be made. I truly hope this will help to touch Mongolian society in change attitude towards domestic violence of Mongolia. I am pleased and proud of that Canada is taking part in this event".
The art installation 'Behind Closed Doors' will be on display at locations across Ulaanbaatar from 17th to 30th November. To find out more and daily locations please visit Women for Change's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/women4changemongolia/?fref=ts.
November 24 (Mongolian Economy) A governmental working group conducted renegotiations with TTJVCo, the mining operator of Tavan Tolgoi, in order to strike a more favourable deal with the company and increase its price of coal, culminating in the decision to set the per-tonne price at USD 50 within the coming 12 months. In addition, mining activities West Tsankhi has been restarted.
Furthermore, the East Tsankhi mine's coal is expected to be sold at USD 60 starting from the first quarter of next year, according to the coal pricing index and forecasts on the appreciation of coal prices on the market.
A consortium of Mongolian companies – SGS LLC, Khishig Arvin LLC and Monnis LLC – has been selected as the main operator at the West Tsankhi mine, and is expected to produce 1.1 million tonnes of coal within the first two months. This means Mongolian coal will be sold at prices closer to global levels by restarting the West Tsankhi mine operations. In addition, Tavan Tolgoi will also need 5,000 vacancies positions filled.
Erdenes TT prepares to increase its coal prices – UB Post, November 24
Airing November 30
Khulan Davaadorj, the owner of Mongolia's first-ever organic cosmetics brand, works to help women combat the effects of pollution and dryness. After developing a skin disease and being advised by her doctor to reduce artificial cosmetic use, she realized there was a lack of available organic alternatives. She quit her job to research this field. She went on to become the successful owner of a brand selling skincare products made with natural ingredients such as sheep's fat and milk.
Tue 29 Nov 19:00 - 23:00
Please join us to mix and mingle with the most international crowd in UB. Artistry is friendly and artistic place to spend time, and invited us for the night. Feel free to bring your friends and colleagues. Don't forget to sign up.
(There will be open stage, so feel free to own stage or microphone)
We will see you there!
Tuul Purevdorj & Ochir Boldbaatar
InterNations Ambassadors Ulan Bator
November 24 (UB Post) The emergency room of the National Trauma and Orthopedic Research Center (NTORC) is filled with angry and nervous people. There is a woman in her late 40s among the patients, who injured her elbow after slipping on ice. She said, "Elderly people have to be very careful during winter time. I slipped on the road while I was going to a shop."
Luckily, she wasn't injured too badly. Many people keep coming to the NTORC because of sidewalks made of stone, which become extremely slippery during winter.
According to an NTORC staff member, around 250 to 300 people with broken limbs came to the center in November. The number of people who have been injured in falls due to snow and ice is increasing, the worker says.
A study conducted by the World Health Organization said that 37.3 million people are given first aid due to accidental injuries each year. Eighty percent of them live in developing countries like Mongolia or underdeveloped countries. Unintentional injuries are the fifth leading cause of death. Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among unintentional injuries.
Mostly people aged between 45 and 64 come to NTORC after injuring themselves on ice.
Ice related incidents and injuries are in some ways similar to air pollution as they are only discussed in winter. The city administration often clears snow and deices roads but they still can't provide safety. There is a city decree mandates organizations to clear ice within 50 meters of their surrounding, but it is largely ignored.
Sukhbaatar Devshil public housing and utilities unit asked organization to clear ice from their surrounding area. "It's your job to clean the outside area. Our organization pays you to do this," is the most common reply they get.
Head of the renovations department of Sukhbaatar Devshil D.Altantsetseg said, "We don't have the right to force people to clear snow and ice. But we have to ask them to clean for people's safety. There are very few organizations that clean its surrounding. We have 50 workers and we have so much work to do. Each person cleans six to seven square meters of area every day. It snows again after the cleaning finishes."
ASA Circus surroundings are the most heavily iced area and is the most difficult area to clean. Stone sidewalks are the most risky. Does Ulaanbaatar really need to have polished stone roads? Stone walkways are very slippery and extremely hard.
The underpass in Bagshiin Deed bus stop is one of the most crowed areas in the city. The problem is that the underpass has stone stairs and floor.
Walkways made of stone are good looking and easy to clean in summer. But they are not suitable for a country like Mongolia because of the extremely cold winter and heavy snow.
One of the companies that make stone tiles, Chuluun Khiits commented, "Sidewalks, playgrounds and outside areas can't be made of stone or slippery material. It is very risky. Stones can crack easily. We use stone for indoor floor."
Many countries in the world use marble and flagstone. But there are standards for using these. In Mongolia, everyone uses those fancy stones to make walkways. A woman who used to live in Germany said, "I was really shocked after coming to Mongolia because most sidewalks are made of marble.
Mongolia's winter is very snowy and slippery. Sidewalks are usually made of asperity plate. In addition, people use machines to clean snow in German. In Mongolia, I saw people cleaning snow."
B.Munkhjargal: There is no standard against stone sidewalks
Specialist at Sukhbaatar Devshil B.Munkhjargal gave an interview about stone pedestrian ways in Mongolia and the dangers they bring in winter.
Every organization has to clean their surrounding during winter. How do you monitor this?
There are 20 khoroos in Sukhbaatar District. There is an inspector in charge of maintenance in every khoroo. The inspector's job is to check the surroundings of organizations. We sent demands for safety. Organizations have to send a photo of the safety procedures they carried out.
Are they pretending to carry out your demands?
Seventy to 80 percent of organizations carried out our safety demands. Inspectors note down organizations that didn't comply. We can't fine organizations. Governors of khoroo or inspectors of the General Authority for Specialized Inspection can fine them.
Where do people have to go if they slip on the ice on a sidewalks or public property? Can people complain to the organization, which is responsible for ensuring safety in the area?
In Mongolia, there is no standard against polished stone sidewalks. So we can't blame that organization for having stone walkways.
Ulaanbaatar residents commented on how they feel about polished stone walkways.
Bayangol District resident Ya.Davaadorj: The city center improved compared to last year. But ger district streets are still dangerous and hard to walk in during winter. People can break their arms and legs when they go out of their homes. City administrations don't clean or deice these areas. Some families dump ashes on ice to make streets less slippery.
Bayangol District resident Ts.Agvaan: Maintainance workers cleaning well but streets become slippery again. It is very hard to walk along apartments and ger districts. Some bus stations are very slippery. People get hurt trying to catch a bus. We can't change a natural phenomenon like snow but we can clear it better.
Sukhbaatar District resident Ts.Tserenchimeg: I usually walk through the city center. I slip on the ice and snow a lot. I also slip on sidewalks made of stone when snow is stuck on my shoes. I don't know what to do.
Songinokhairkhan District resident B.Altangerel: Most sidewalks and roads are slippery. Young people don't have a problem with that, I think. But it's risky for elderly people.
Bayanzurkh District resident Ts.Battsetseg: The Narantuul market area is very slippery. I think Mongolia has to use machines to clean snow as other countries do. It is hard to see people cleaning snow with shovels. They spend long hours cleaning snow but machine do it within few minutes. Mongolia must change this situation.
By Michael Kohn
- Mongolia officials seeking $1 billion to fund budget deficit
- Planned prime minister visit to China in doubt, minister says
November 25 (Bloomberg) China postponed bilateral meetings with Mongolia indefinitely after its North Asian neighbor allowed a four-day visit by Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
The two sets of talks originally scheduled for next week were seen as crucial for Mongolia to access badly-needed Chinese loans and development projects.
"The meeting was intended for negotiations on soft loans and the projects on Tavan Tolgoi railroad, a copper plant and coal gasification project. Unfortunately, the Chinese side responded that this visit was unacceptable,'' Munkh-Orgil Tsend, Mongolia's foreign minister told reporters in Ulaanbaatar on Thursday.
A traditionally Buddhist nation that has deep historical ties to Tibet, Mongolia has hosted the current Dalai several times since 1979. Past visits have been met with reprisals from Beijing, which considers the Dalai Lama to be a separatist leader and routinely condemns nations that give him a platform to speak.
The visit, which concluded earlier this week, was purely religious in nature, said Munkh-Orgil, adding that it had been organized by Gandan Monastery and the government had played no role in the invitation.
China also canceled a bi-annual consultative meeting between the two countries' Parliaments, said Munkh-Orgil. Preparations for a planned visit by Mongolian Prime Minister Erdenebat Jargaltulga to China next year are also in doubt, he added.
Since it declared its economy in crisis in August, Mongolia has been seeking emergency loans from bilateral partners and international financial institutions including China and the International Monetary Fund. The nation's budget deficit has more than doubled this year to $1 billion while gross domestic product contracted by 1.6 percent in the first nine months.
Ulaanbaatar, November 24 (MONTSAME) The Chinese side has canceled several planned meetings and events, including a visit of the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia to the People's Republic of China. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC has condemned Mongolia for hosting the Dalai Lama and stated that Mongolia must take concrete actions to remove negative effects on bilateral ties.
MONTSAME Agency has clarified about the situation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil.
The latter said that Chinese side has notified of the cancellation of several visits from Mongolia yesterday. "Among the visits and meetings were, the planned consultative meeting between the State Great Khural of Mongolia and the parliament of China, which takes place every two years and considers important matters between legislatures. It was cancelled".
"A working group, led by Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh was supposed to meet with the group headed by the Chairman of the Development and Reform Commission of China. The meeting was intended for negotiations on soft loans and the projects on Tavantolgoi railroad, copper plant and coal gasification. Unfortunately, the Chinese side responded this visit was unacceptable".
Moreover, I was expecting to pay a visit at the invitation of the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs to review the results of Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh's visit, and discuss preparation for a visit of the Prime Minister of Mongolia to China, expected next year. The Chinese side have notified us, but not officially that this visit might also be postponed".
"The Minister of Road and Transport Development of Mongolia and the Minister of Road and Transport of China and Russia were supposed to sign a tri-partite agreement during the Asia-Pacific Ministeral Conference on Transport, to be held in Moscow on December 5-7. We assumed this action might also be postponed and expressed out regret to the Chinese side".
Furthermore, our side has released an explanation that the visit by the Dalai Lama was not motivated by or related to politics, and only aimed at delivering his teachings to the Buddhists of Mongolia. We also expressed our hope that these canceled meetings and visits will be re-arranged soon. Our explanation made clear that there was no involvement on the part of the government and politicians of Mongolia in inviting the Dalai Lama, that this visit was organized by religious organizations led by the Khamba Lama of the Gandantegchinlen Monastery of Ulaanbaatar D.Choijamts, that state and religion are separate in Mongolia, therefore, the Government has nothing to do with the Dalai Lama's visit, and that the government has shown as equal respect to the faithful of Mongolia as they have shown to the religious leader's visit to Mongolia", concluded the Minister.
The Dalai Lama's visit to Mongolia results in predictable Chinese backlash.
November 27 (The Diplomat) Diplomatic ties between Mongolia and China are set for a freeze.
Bloomberg reported on Saturday that, as anticipated, China has reacted negatively to Mongolia's decision to allow a visit by the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, to the country. The Dalai Lama wrapped up a four-day visit to Mongolia on Wednesday.
According to the report, China has postponed all bilateral interactions with Mongolia over the Dalai Lama's visit. The immediate result of the Chinese decision is that upcoming talks on Chinese loans and infrastructure initiatives in the country will not go forward.
"The meeting was intended for negotiations on soft loans and the projects on Tavan Tolgoi railroad, a copper plant and coal gasification project. Unfortunately, the Chinese side responded that this visit was unacceptable,'' Munkh-Orgil Tsend, Mongolia's foreign minister, told reporters, according to Bloomberg.
Mongolia was hoping to conclude a $4.2 billion loan with Beijing to solve short-term spending needs while the country remains mired in an economic recession.
China regards the Dalai Lama, who has lived in permanent exile in India since 1959, as a separatist leader and has strongly retaliated against states willing to so much as allow an unofficial visit by the Tibetan leader.
The Mongolian government had not extended a formal invitation to the Dalai Lama for the visit. Instead, he visited the country on a religious visit organized by a monastery.
China's retaliation for the visit has so far not gone beyond a freeze on diplomatic talks. As the AP noted, China "protested previous visits by the Dalai Lama by briefly closing its border in 2002 and temporarily canceling flights from Beijing in 2006."
For Mongolia, a freeze in diplomatic ties with one of its two large neighbors — the other being Russia — could prove economically damaging in the short-term.
As a result of China's freeze on diplomacy with Mongolia, trilateral initiatives between Russia, China, and Mongolia will likely not go ahead as planned as well. The three countries signed an economic partnership agreement earlier this year during the 11th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. (Mongolia is an SCO observer state.)
Mongolia has been in a state of economic crisis since August and has sought assistance from the international community, including the International Monetary Fund.
Part of the reason for Mongolia's economic slowdown, after years of growth following a mining boom, is a slump in global commodity prices and the general economic slowdown in China.
One final consequence of the Chinese retaliation against Mongolia could be the intensification of anti-Chinese sentiment in the country, which dates back to the Cold War.
November 24 (Global Times) Anti-China forces in Mongolia have been on the rise as China's neighbor country recently approved the Dalai Lama's visit despite an elevation in Sino-Mongolian ties, experts said.
"The erroneous action taken by the Mongolian side on the Dalai Lama's visit hurt the political foundation of China-Mongolia relations and exerted a negative impact on the development of bilateral relations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily briefing on Wednesday, in response to media reports that the Chinese side had indefinitely postponed an inter-governmental meeting and another one on mines and energy, which was scheduled to be held soon.
It is China's warning to Mongolia, Yang Mian, a professor of international relations at the Communication University of China, told the Global Times, adding that China will await Mongolia's response to decide whether further sanctions would be imposed.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping's State visit to Mongolia in 2014, China agreed to offer sea ports and railway transport access to its landlocked neighbor and help Mongolia finance a number of projects in medical care, education, railroads and residential community construction, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The Dalai Lama on Saturday addressed followers at the Gandantegchenlin Monastery in Ulan Bator during a four-day visit to Mongolia, which was "described by his hosts as purely religious in nature and no meetings with officials are planned," the Associated Press reported.
Opposition parties and religious forces in the country where Tibetan Buddhism is the main religion may make use of China's opposition to the Dalai Lama's visit to hype anti-China sentiment, Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
Those parities reject the opening up Mongolia's economy, since it primarily relies on mineral resources, Yang said.
Mongolia canceled a previous visit by the Dalai Lama that coincided with Xi's visit to the country in August 2014, Bloomberg reported.
By Ganbat Namjilsangarav and Grace Brown
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, November 23 (AP) — Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said Wednesday he has "no worries" about Donald Trump's election as U.S. president, adding that he expects the businessman will align his future policies with global realities.
Commenting at the conclusion of a four-day visit to Mongolia, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism says he looks forward to seeing Trump at some point following the Jan. 20 inauguration. It was not immediately clear if a meeting between the two has been planned. Such meetings usually draw protests from Beijing, who accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to split Tibet from China.
The 81-year-old monk said he has always regarded the U.S. as the leader of the "free world" and wasn't concerned about remarks made by Trump during the election campaign. Some of those comments have been cited as offensive to Muslims, Hispanics and other U.S. minority groups.
"I feel during the election, the candidate has more freedom to express. Now once they (are) elected, having the responsibility, then they have to carry their cooperation, their work, according (to) reality," he told reporters. "So I have no worries."
China had demanded Mongolia scrap his visit for the sake of the "general picture of a sound and steady development of bilateral ties." Mongolia's fragile economy is heavily dependent on China, and the countries are in discussions on a $1.2 billion Chinese loan to help pull it out of a recession.
Unconfirmed reports in Mongolia said China had delayed talks on the loan and other financial matters, along with visits by the country's deputy prime minister and a group of lawmakers, apparently in response to the Dalai Lama's visit. Mongolia's foreign ministry said it had not received formal confirmation and China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In his comments, the Dalai Lama said his visit to the landlocked, primarily Buddhist, nation had no political purpose and said he had not publicly advocated independence for Tibet since 1974. The Dalai Lama has long called for Tibet to remain under Chinese rule, but with greater political participation by Tibetans and stronger protections for its traditional Buddhist culture.
China says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, although many Tibetans say they were effectively an independent country for much of that time.
Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Trump in a phone call and the country's state media has welcomed his election as harkening a less confrontational policy toward China. Those outlets have also applauded Trump's announcement that he would abandon a U.S.-led free trade agreement in Asia that had excluded China.
However, Trump has also accused Beijing of unfair trade practices and pledged to bulk-up the U.S. military, leaving questions as to his ultimate approach to relations with the world's second-largest economy.
Dalai Lama says will visit Trump in move bound to anger China - Terrence Edwards for Reuters, November 23
Ulaanbaatar, November 24 (MONTSAME) The sides have arranged to hold the next meeting of the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission in Ulaanbaatar on December 11-13. On Wednesday, the cabinet approved the general directions of the Mongolian part, which will be led by Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh.
The Intergovernmental Commission will address a broad range of key issues of bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, infrastructure, transport, mining, energy and humanities.
November 25 (UB Post) The eighth consultative meeting of the foreign affairs ministries of Mongolia and Kazakhstan took place on November 23, in Ulaanbaatar, to discuss consular affairs cooperation between the two countries.
The meetings delegations were led by Director of the Consular Department of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ya.Ariunbold and Vice Director of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Mirabbos Hojamberdiev.
The sides discussed the results of the seventh consultative meeting; the current state of consular affairs cooperation; protecting people's rights; cooperation between the ministries of justice and interior affairs, and the immigration sectors of the two countries; and a cooperation agreement to be established between the two countries.
State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Davaasuren also met with the Kazakhstani delegation to exchange views on relations and cooperation. The sides agreed that the consultative meeting was held in terms of mutual understanding and friendship, and that it was of great importance to strengthening consular affairs cooperation and in going forward with legal matters between Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
November 25 (UB Post) Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold received the ambassadors of the U.S. and Laos to discuss continued cooperation and expediting the implementation of agreements that have been reached.
Ambassador of the United States of America to Mongolia Jennifer Zimdahl Galt noted that she has renewed faith in mining and agricultural cooperation. She said that she will discuss establishing a new direction for relations and cooperation between the two countries during the regular consultative meeting on foreign affairs of the United States and Mongolia, which will be held at the beginning of December in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Galt pointed out that the House Democracy Partnership and Open World Programs funded by the U.S. Congress are being implemented in Mongolia to strengthen committee operations in the legislature.
She also highlighted that the U.S. Embassy has launched the Youth Leadership Program for high school students, and 90 youth and 20 students will be going to the USA through the program. The ambassador said that implementing the Agreement on Transparency in Matters Related to International Trade and Investment between the United States and Mongolia is of significant importance to strengthening the trade and investment relationship, and in showing foreign investors and entrepreneurs that Mongolia has a suitable and low-risk environment for foreign investment.
Ambassador Galt thanked Parliament and Cabinet for their efforts to enhance the investment environment and to change policies for import bans. She noted that preparations for the signing of the second compact agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation are progressing.
The Ambassador also stated that she wants Mongolia to continue its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. Speaker M.Enkhbold stressed that Mongolia is concentrating on implementing the Agreement on Transparency in Matters Related to International Trade and Investment. He said that the continuation of Mongolia's peacekeeping mission is being discussed, and that he hopes projects and programs to be implemented in the second compact agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation will have positive outcomes for Mongolia's economic development.
In his meeting with Ambassador of the Lao People's Democratic Republic to Mongolia Sialounkone Seng-Outhone, Speaker M.Enkhbold pointed out that developing trade and economic cooperation between Laos and Mongolia is important, and that he hopes that Laos will help Mongolia develop its relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Ambassador Seng-Outhone highlighted that developing cooperation in health, tourism, and agriculture was discussed during a meeting of the Mongolia-Laos intergovernmental commission held last year, and that a new direction for cooperation in regional and global arenas is important. The Ambassador said that he will work to promote Speaker M.Enkhbold's request, and invited the Speaker to pay a visit to Laos.
November 25 (UB Post) During the 2015 UN General Assembly, President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj announced that Mongolia was planning to adopt a state of permanent neutrality.
In a brief speech, he stated, "Mongolia has pursued a peaceful, open, multi-pil-
lar foreign policy. This stance enabled us to declare Mongolia a state of permanent neutrality. Our national laws and international commitments are consistent with neutrality principles. Therefore, I kindly ask for your sympathy and support for Mongolia's peaceful, open, neutral, and active foreign policy efforts. I am convinced that Mongolia's status of permanent neutrality will contribute to the strengthening of peace, security, and development in our region and the world at large."
More than a year has passed since that address, and the reality of Mongolia's permanent neutrality has not yet been realized. Recently, on November 17, Parliament postponed voting on permanent neutrality. Depending on your viewpoint, the postponement is either a bureaucratic obstacle to the prosperity of Mongolia's foreign policy, or a blessing that could help us avert a foreign relations disaster.
The groundwork for permanent neutrality has been set somewhat, since Mongolia has not joined any military alliances and declared itself to be a nuclear weapon-free zone in 1992. Subjectively, Mongolia has been de facto neutral since 1992. Therefore, permanent neutrality wouldn't be anything out of the blue. Officially declaring permanent neutrality could potentially be beneficial to balancing relations between Mongolia's two superpower neighbors and the rest of the world. Gone would be the pressures of China to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Russian pressure to join the Eurasian Economic Union. It has been a poorly kept secret that Russia and China do not want Mongolia to fall under U.S influence. Declaring permanent neutrality would end the country's low-level alliance with NATO, which could potentially quell some of the worries that our two neighbors have had. This move could help shift Mongolia's focus more toward economic relations, as the pressures and burdens of political issues would likely be alleviated if not eliminated.
The reality of the situation is that since 1992, Mongolia has not been interested in exclusively aligning with any of the blocs dominating world politics. Therefore, foreign policy has been very much focused on economics. This is evidenced by Mongolia's membership in Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), observer status in the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN), and aspirations to join Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). By declaring neutrality and hopefully alleviating some of the concerns that our two immediate neighbors have, Mongolia could be free to pursue its economic policy without the backdrop of political pressure.
We have seen that permanent neutrality can work when properly implemented, such as in the cases of Switzerland and Costa Rica. However, Turkmenistan is probably more in line with the situation that Mongolia is in. Turkmenistan declared itself permanently neutral in 1995, largely to alleviate Russian influence. Turkmenistan is the only country whose neutrality has been recognized by the UN. In 1995, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 50/80, Permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan, recognizing and supporting Turkmenistan's permanent neutrality, as well as calling upon UN Member States to respect and support their status. As Turkmenistan has done, Mongolia's decision to call on the world to safeguard its neutrality status could be beneficial in preventing any moves by either Russia or China to exert more influence. If push comes to shove, the law on permanent neutrality is flexible, in that it allows the country to retain its armed forces and to join a military alliance in the event its sovereignty or independence is threatened.
Theoretically, permanent neutrality could very much be beneficial to Mongolia. The key word to focus on here is theoretically. Realistically, permanent neutrality does not mean anything if it is not recognized by other countries, and in Mongolia's case, if it is not recognized by Russia and China. As Viktor Samoylenko of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations points out, neutrality can only be successful if a country enjoys sound economic standing and is not overly dependent on other countries for financing and investment. That is clearly not the case for Mongolia. As China is clearly the country's biggest economic partner, accounting for 80 percent of exports and 30 percent of imports, with a total of 3.8 billion USD in investment in Mongolia. Meanwhile, Russia is the country's sole supplier of energy and petroleum. Switzerland, for example, has the economic power at its disposal to enforce its neutral status.
Realistically and historically speaking, if push came to shove and a conflict arose in the region, there is little to protect Mongolia's neutral status. Citing Germany's invasion of Belgium in 1914, stronger states can ignore neutrality if it suits their needs. Theoretically speaking, neutrality in wartime is regulated by international law, but during wartime, all bets are usually off. It is also worth mentioning that Mongolia resides in an especially tense geopolitical area compared to Switzerland or Costa Rica. Without getting too far ahead in this line of thinking, it is important to mention that neutrality is protected and regulated by international law. However, permanent neutrality is not regulated by international law. In other words, there is no international law instrument which regulates what falls under permanent neutrality, how it is established, and whether it needs to be recognized by other states. Since there is no international law that regulates permanent neutrality, problems can and will most likely arise.
We have seen that the move to declare Mongolia a permanently neutral state could potentially have a net positive result. It would allow our country's foreign policy to shift focus toward stronger economic relations without the burden of political pressure. Mongolia has been de facto neutral, meaning it has been neutral in all but name. If done correctly, permanent neutrality could be an advantage. What "doing it correctly" means is that all relevant sides needs to be a part of the dialogue; this means countries, international organizations, and the people. Communicating our intentions clearly to our two immediate neighbors and expressing firm adherence to neutrality could counter any of the points against neutrality. The decision by Parliament to postpone the vote on permanent neutrality is seen mostly as a bureaucratic obstacle, by which the current government hopes to take the majority of the credit for when permanent neutrality is realized. If realized correctly, the status of permanent neutrality could prove to be an important tool in the arsenal of the country's foreign policy.
November 25 (World Poultry) A recent study conducted by the Ministry of Health in Mongolia identified selenium deficiency as a serious public health concern. The Ministry now intends to increase the population's selenium intake through enriched foods, notably eggs.
A trial on selenium-enriched eggs was launched in July of this year by Tumen Shuvuut, one of the largest poultry producers in Mongolia, using an organic source of selenium called Sel-Plex from Alltech. Following the successful trial, Tumen Shuvuut will sell selenium enriched eggs in supermarkets across Mongolia from December.
Organic selenium – a natural enrichment
Selenium, which is nutritionally essential for humans, is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection. The selenium enrichment process takes place when an animal is fed with an approved source of organic selenium, providing natural enrichment of the food product.
"Based on trials conducted with our flock using Sel-Plex, the research reports showed that the 0.5 gpm-enriched eggs were more likely to offset the selenium deficiency in the Mongolian population," said Bold Jigjid, CEO of Tumen Shuvuut. "We were very satisfied with the outcome of the two-year trial with Alltech, and we look forward to producing eggs that will benefit the Mongolian people."
Enriching food products for benefit of human health
Addressing a recent press conference in Mongolia, Dr Mark Lyons, global vice president and head of Greater China for Alltech, mentioned the company has been working on the enrichment of food products with Sel-Plex for more than 15 years.
"Our organic form of selenium is able to support the immune system of the animal during production while also differentiating the final product in the market and contributing to human health," said Lyons. "We are delighted to work with Tumen Shuvuut and to have the opportunity to highlight the benefits of selenium-enriched foods in Mongolia."
Alltech is currently working with more than 56 companies around the globe to enrich food products in the areas of dairy, beef, pork, poultry and pet food.
Ulaanbaatar, November 24 (MONTSAME) The cabinet passed a resolution, in accordance with which, the Government is to cover expenses of hemodialysis treatment for patients suffering from chronic kidney failure. A total of 169 hemodialysis machines are operational at 27 public and private medical institutions.
On the national level, 564 people are required to have hemodialysis treatment and 2-3 new patients each day are diagnosed with kidney failure. These patients are in need to receive hemodialysis treatment three times a week. Each treatment costs around MNT 100-120 thousand, which totals some MNT 20 million for a year. The government will cover these expenses for the patients.
By LOUISA ROHDE
November 24 (UB Post) Around a 100 curious and bright minds gathered at the TEDx event hosted by the American School of Ulaanbaatar on November 19.
The event, directed at middle and high school students, was organized by Khulan Enkhbold, who herself is a 10th-grader at the American School of Ulaanbaatar, under the theme "What now?" which clearly refers to the peculiar situation students find themselves in after their graduation. The event was the first of its kind held at the venue.
The TEDx program is a spin-off of the annual five-day TED conference, which features interesting and outstanding speakers under the slogan "Ideas worth spreading". A TEDx is generally a local and self-organized event, the "x" standing for "independently organized TED event" that serves as an opportunity to provide a platform for inspiration and innovation within communities. It also aims to spark profound discussions, and promote and encourage original thinking and inventive genius.
While choosing the speakers, Khulan Enkhbold looked out for people with intriguing stories, which would benefit her community and introduce brighter and better ideas to her schoolmates and the other attendees. In the end, the event featured six guest speakers and the screening of two thought-provoking video TED talks about procrastination and an escape from North Korea, as well as on-stage performances of the Assassins Dance Studio and magician Jargalsaikhan Batkhulig, who is best known for his performance in "Mongolia's Got Talent" show.
Among the speakers were well-know UB personalities and newcomers alike.
At the age of only 15, Anar Amarjargal told the touching story of what it means to lose a loved one, and in turn taught the eager audience to cherish the people close to them.
Lkhagva-Erdene, an executive at Mongol TV, spoke about how journalism can save Mongolia, as it is a tool to improve society. According to him, especially investigative journalism is in a fragile state, often corrupted and heavily under-financed. He hopes that once media ethics are set in place, it would be an excellent way of addressing and fixing social issues and "bring social justice to Mongolia".
Approaching the topic of the grace of charity, Maya Lkhagvasuren touched the issue of international volunteering, and how she has benefitted from helping others. Having volunteered in Kenya for some weeks herself, she emphasized the advantages of volunteering as a way of broadening one's horizon, developing character, and finding appreciation and humbleness for one's own living situation.
Elmond Ray Mondigo held a presentation with a title "Little things that matter". He gave an example of two hours of unproductive leisure time, such as watching funny cat videos on Facebook per day, which over a year will accumulate to 730 hours, translating to roughly 30 days of doing nothing. Another one was the water intake deficit of one liter per day, which would add up to 365 liters one's body would have needed.
By emphasizing the enormity of the negligence of "the little things", he appealed to the audience to pay more attention to them, as they hold a greater significance than originally thought.
Tsolmon Bat-Erdene, an employee of Khan Bank, conveyed an "important message from the corporate world" to the overall young attendees. According to her, it is not sufficient to learn just one foreign language, but rather two or more, while Mon-golians should not neglect their native language over their eagerness to learn and communicate in English or another foreign language. She advised to take time to find one's passion before devoting one's life to a profession.
As a psychotherapist, Amy Rankin has achieved remarkable success in the field of mental health care among younger target groups. Having initiated mental health clubs and centers at Chinese schools, she tries to break the stigma related to mental health issues, and stop the discrimination people are exposed to in their society. She confessed that she herself suffers from depression and claimed that she tries to open up discussion on the issue, and relayed the message that it is perfectly fine to ask for help. Rankin said her ultimate goal is to reframe mental health as a positive part of everybody's life, as "every person who possesses a heart and brain, possesses mental health".
All talks at TEDx aimed to inspire a rethinking of existing societal structures and problems, as well as call for action and initiative to invoke change, as young people are set to become future leaders. The silence during the presentations indicated that the attendees actually took the advice and different perspectives offered to heart.
In addition, the event offered a superb and fun opportunity to mingle and interact with like-minded people of the same age over lunch, as one of the participants, an 11th-grader, tells me. It is safe to say that the combination of the educating and social aspects of the event made it a huge success.
Group will be developing clean water initiatives in the country, as well as doing a little ice climbing
November 26 (Sudbury.com) A group of Laurentian University students are headed halfway around the world to Mongolia in May and June 2017 for the adventure of a lifetime, but they need your help to get there.
The Outdoor Adventure Leadership Students and health promotion students are going to the country for a month to help develop clean water initiatives, septic system upgrades, agriculture and promote health and well-being in the community of Sogok in western Mongolia.
Given the nature of their program, the adventure leadership students will also take part in ice climbing and glacier hiking while they're there.
But it's an extremely expensive endeavour.
Jim Little, program co-ordinator with the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program, said it will cost $70,000 to cover travel costs and export a shipping container filled with medical and other supplies to Mongolia.
A total of 29 people are taking part in the trip, including 21 Laurentian students.
If you're interested in donating funds or supplies such as medical equipment to be shipped to Mongolia, or in becoming a sponsor, you're asked to contact Laurentian University's development office.
The trip is going to be great for the students, Little said. Normally Laurentian's third-year adventure leadership students go on a spring paddling trip, but this year they decided to do something different.
"Ultimately going on this humanitarian expedition, it's such a valuable thing," he said. "You can't get this experience inside the classroom. This is outside the classroom and real-world."
Third-year adventure leadership student Nicholas Rivais said he's looking forward to the trip.
"I'm excited because it's going to be a new and humbling experience, I think," he said.
"I think going to a third-world country to do a humanitarian project and just in general experiencing a new environment is going to be amazing, as well as doing our mountaineering project.
"I have never done anything like that. To be able to go out and do that, is going to be amazing."
Learn more about the trip on this website.
November 24 (UB Post) Alliance Francaise de Mongolie organizes a coffee meeting every month. This month's meeting will be held on November 26 under the topic "Women in Mongolia".
Guest speakers of the event will be French researcher Elisabeth Rouvier and legal reform program coordinator of the National Center Against Violence N.Arvintaria.
Rouvier will give a talk on place of women in society in Mongolia and N.Arvintaria will talk about her NGO and activity.
Ulaanbaatar, November 26 (The Tibet Post) — The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with members of the Mongolian media, concluding his ninth trip to Mongolia on November 23rd.
At his guest house with 50 reporters, His Holiness began, "as for Tibet and Mongolia, we have had close relations for well over 1000 years—even before Buddhism was introduced in our two countries, I am sure we responded to each other like neighbors. The Tibetan and Mongolian peoples are like twin brothers and sisters. We have the blue birthmark on our behinds in common.
"Both peoples uphold the practice of Buddhism as taught by the great Nalanda masters. In my various meetings and talks over the past four days, I have stressed that since Mongolia has many monasteries and temples it is very important for monks, and lay people too, to study what the Buddha taught.
"These days there are several hundred Mongolian monk students studying in the Tibetan monasteries that have been re-established in India. Some have already been studying for 15 to 20 years and are preparing to obtain their Geshe degrees. I am confident these monks will be well able to serve the Buddha dharma here in Mongolia".
Concerning the reincarnation of the 9th Jetsun Dhampa, the third highest lama of the Geluk lineage, His Holiness told the reporters,
"Previous Jetsun Dhampas have been close to the Dalai Lamas in the past. I knew the 9th Jetsun Dhampa from childhood. As the time of his death approached, he asked me where and when he should pass away, which surprised me a little. However, during our last meeting, when he was already in poor health, I told him that it was important for him to be reborn in Mongolia. Considering the significance of his reincarnation and bearing in mind that he is a personal friend, I feel I have a responsibility to look after his reincarnation.
"I am convinced that his reincarnation has been born in Mongolia. However, the boy is very young right now, so there is no need for haste in making an announcement. When he is 3, 4 or 5 years old, we'll see how things are. Placing a small child on a high throne is not what's important. What is much more important is that he is able to study and become learned so he will be able to contribute to the flourishing of the Buddha dharma."
When asked about the complaints from the Chinese government regarding his trip to Mongolia, His Holiness replied, "This is just the usual Chinese government routine. Japan and Mongolia are the only two Buddhist countries I am able to visit. There are more than 400 million Buddhists in China. Many of them ask me to visit them there. Meanwhile, Chinese government propaganda accuses me of being a separatist."
"The reality is that since 1974 I have not sought independence, but what I am looking for is genuine autonomy. Many Chinese and many more in the wider world know this. There are even some Tibetans who criticize me for not seeking independence. But right from the start I have been concerned that we should not be striving for the victory of one side and the complete defeat of the other. We need to find a mutually beneficial solution, acceptable to both sides."
Bidding farewell to his disciples and hosts, His Holiness departed for the airport where he returned to Japan. His Holiness will rest for the next two days before giving a public talk in Saitama on November 26th. The following day he will return to India.
By Julian Dierkes
November 23 (Mongolia Focus) I have been traveling very regularly to Mongolia for over 10 years now. At the same time, I also spend a lot of time in Japan and in Europe, but it is easy to disassociate those latter trips from Mongolia because differences in developmental stage, etc. are so blatant.
But two years ago, I visited Myanmar and couldn't help but make constant comparisons to Mongolia. In Myanmar, this was more of a question of politics and democratization, and of mining and mining policy. These comparisons culminated in an article in the Nov 23 2014 UB Post: "An Open Letter to Mongolian Political Leadership", where I concluded that "achieving a prosperous, healthy, democratic and stable Mongolia should be so easy!" Well, it should!
Recently, I visited Kyrgyzstan and thus for the very first time, Central Asia. Here heritage, developmental stage, a focus on mining, cultural similarities, and familiar landscapes make the comparison with Mongolia even more natural.
Here are some impressionistic observations about Kyrgyzstan then:
Bishkek vs. Ulaanbaatar
Both cities have obvious features that mark them as state-socialist creations. Some grand(iose) avenues, wide open, empty squares, monuments with some remaining hints at Soviet iconography. Apartments are of a similar vintage and some of them share similarities in dilapidated looks.
But, there are some very clear differences.
The cityscape of Bishkek includes many, many trees. Even though the weather swings from 22C to near freezing in just a day, the trees still have their leaves, even at the beginning of November. Throughout the centre of the city, there are also several parks.
The Osh Bazaar in Bishkek feels signifincantly safer than the Narantuul or other markets in Ulaanbaatar. It also offers a much greater variety of foodstuffs, including numerous stands with a wide selection of apples, vegetables, spices, dried apricots and nuts, etc.
Bishkek also feels somewhat more diverse than Ulaanbaatar. Not only is it obviously bilingual (Russian and Kyrgyz), but there is a greater varieties of ethnicities and costume, at least to my eye.
Yes, Kyrgyz, just like Mongolians drive like they ride horses, i.e. recklessly and with little regard for lanes, directions or others. Well, that's putting it a bit too starkly, but still. Bishkek seems a bit more orderly at times, but then drivers seem just as prone to spontaneously adding lanes of traffic as Mongolians are, or at least used to be. In the countryside the passing maneuvers are definitely reckless.
But, the selection of cars is entirely different and in an interesting way suggesting that geography matters. Mongolia is dominated by used cars sourced from Japan and South Korea. While the Hyundai Accent used to be most common, there is now a greater variety of cars with a surprisingly large number of Prius in the mix. In Kyrgyzstan, I see a surprising number of cars from Germany. The 1980s Audi 100 seems extremely common, with a jacked-up suspension for more road clearance, and VW sedans and buses are also common. There is also a good number of 3-generations-ago Mercedes E-types. Remaining stickers on the cars suggest that they're actually German. All the mini buses are Mercedes transporters.
The license plates have followed the European example of placing a flag in the left edge of the plate (unlike Russian tags that have the flag on the right). Europe is the first place I saw this with an EU flag with a country code printed on it that replaced the used-to-be-ubiquitous D or F or S stickers for Germany, France, or Sweden, respectively. Mongolia has adopted these as well.
Like many European countries (but also Mongolia and Japan, for example) the license plates also vary by province of issuance, Bishkek is thus dominated (along with Berlin) by B tags. This system is currently being replaced with a number code for the province of issuance like France or Russia, where Bishkek is 01.
My very brief impression of Kyrgyz cuisine was very favourable. Food can be delicious in the Mongolian countryside, primarily due to the freshness and quality of meat and dairy ingredients. But by contrast, Kyrgyz food seemed much more varied with stronger regional (Russian, but also other Central Asian) influences and a much greater variety and use of spices.
The fruit and vegetable selection at the bazaar was quite impressive. The dried apricots, in particular, were delicious. I ate some very nice soups. Alcohol drinking seemed a little bit more restraint and was certainly not very visible in restaurants.
During the time in Kyrgyzstan we had an opportunity to visit the Kumtor Gold mine. It is owned and operated by Canadian Centerra Gold, also involved in the Boroo and Gatsuurt deposits in Selenge.
To reach the mine, we drove for four hours across the Kyrgyz countryside from Bishkek and along Issyk-Kul, the very large lake in the Northeast of Kyrgyzstan.
The drive across the countryside was very different from a similar drive in Mongolia.
At least along this route, Kyrgyzstan is clearly more densely populated than Mongolia. Kyrgyz population density is just under 30/km2 while this figure is closer to 2/km2. This difference shows!
While it is surprising that there is always some human dwelling within sight in Mongolia (partly due to the openness of most of the landscape, but also due to the dispersal of population across most of the territory of Mongolia), in Kyrgyzstan there always seems to be a human settlement in sight with many small towns appearing along the road, and additional dwellings in between these towns.
On the whole drive, we did not see a single ger. We did see a lot of animals, however, mostly cattle, horses and sheep, but very few goats or yaks and only two camels. Because there are many apple and apricot orchards, there are also fences in this part of Kyrgyzstan, unlike most of Mongolia. The road got pretty crowded at dusk when many people were herding animals back to villages and used the road as a transit corridor, it seemed.
Islam is more visible in the countryside than in Bishkek as most small towns seem to have a mosque and a cemetery.
For eight centuries, my people, the Darkhad, have protected the relics of the Mongol Son of Heaven.
November 25 (Sixth Tone) I am one of the Darkhad people of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and I am a guardian of Genghis Khan. For nearly 800 years, my people have guarded the spirit of the greatest Mongol emperor. Mine is the 36th generation to have this honor.
I am now 48 years old. When I was a very young man, my father always reminded me of what it meant to be a Darkhad, and how important it was to carry on the sacred duty our forefathers had bequeathed us: guarding the eight white yurts that house the Great Khan's relics. His fourth son, Tolui, first had these portable mausoleums built on the Mongolian grasslands.
People have always been curious about where Genghis Khan's final resting place is located. Every few years, the media jumps on a new story reporting the discovery of his tomb. However, these stories only underline the outside world's limited understanding of Mongol culture.
Traditional Mongolian shamanism espouses that every living being has a soul. When a person dies, their soul does not die with them; instead, it lives on in the objects they used during their lifetime. Therefore, we the Darkhad believe we guard the living soul of the Son of Heaven.
It is said that as Genghis Khan lay on his deathbed, a shamanic doctor plucked a hair from the forehead of a white male camel and placed it in his mouth. After the fur absorbed Genghis Khan's last breath, the shaman placed it in a bag as a token of his soul. In Mongolian, we call this event the cindariin hurrcag.
However, we are not sure whether the strand of camel hair is actually contained within the eight white yurts. The Darkhad have never fully opened the box to check, as we believe that doing so is to court disaster. We may only open the box a tiny crack on the fifth day of our Spring Festival sacrifice, and then we must shut it again.
Easily transported, the eight white yurts are a testament to our nomadic lifestyle, to Mongolian spiritualism, and to the local environment. They ensure that people across the steppe can continue offering sacrifices to their ancestors. Their mobility also allows the Darkhad to respond flexibly in times of disaster or threat.
Genghis Khan is not only a deity in the minds of the Mongolian people; to the Chinese as well, he is a highly respected ruler. The Yuan dynasty of the 13th and 14th centuries, established by Genghis Khan's grandson, Kublai, is accepted as a period of so-called native Chinese rule, despite the fact that its imperial line originally hailed from the steppes beyond the country's northern border. For his part, Genghis united the disparate Mongolian tribes and captured a vast swath of northern China from the enervated Jin dynasty.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese attempted to commandeer the yurts as a means to subdue China's Mongolian population, but they were met with fierce resistance. To protect the holy relics from destruction, the Darkhad people asked the ruling Nationalist government to move the yurts westward.
In 1939, the government dispatched a military escort to relocate the coffin and its relics to Gansu province in northwestern China. During their passage through Yanan, a Communist Party stronghold, people from all political backgrounds participated in a mass memorial service. They even constructed a memorial hall complete with a personal dedication from Chairman Mao himself.
After 14 years which saw the reunification of China under Communist Party rule, the relics of Genghis Khan were sent back to the Ordos region of Inner Mongolia. With the completion of the official Mausoleum of Genghis Khan in 1956, relics from across Ordos, including portraits, spear-shaped sulde totems, swords, and saddles, were gathered in the city of the same name. This made the once-mobile sacrificial customs performed by the Darkhad and the Golden Family — Genghis Khan's direct descendants — fixed, centralized, and open to the public.
No matter the course that history has taken, the Darkhad people have always been entrusted with protecting Genghis Khan's spirit through the ages. When his mausoleum was built, the local authorities delegated eight Darkhad people to organize daily offerings of food, alcohol, and incense, and to watch over the relics. In return, they received food and money. Today, the mausoleum remains primarily under the supervision of the Ordos tribe of the Mongol ethnic group, with Darkhad members in leadership positions.
For the Darkhad, the Ordos region's recent flourishing economy is a blessing from Genghis Khan's spirit. It signifies that our regional leaders have paid Genghis Khan due respect through their offerings. In return, his spirit is allowing the Ordos people to prosper.
However, economic prosperity brings its own problems, particularly through conflict with traditional culture. Today, Ordos relies on the cultural resources of Genghis Khan's mausoleum to foster the development of the tourism industry. As a result, his mausoleum — sacred ground to the Mongolian people — has naturally become a popular stomping ground for visitors.
But non-Mongolians come to the area only for travel, and they often don't understand the full significance of Genghis Khan to us. Sometimes, when they see us in traditional dress making real sacrificial offerings, they think it's all for show.
We can only insist on hosting the rituals for Genghis Khan. These include daily and monthly offerings, weekday sacrifices of mutton and goat meat, larger festivals during the Year of the Dragon or the Year of the Snake, and other diverse, rich ceremonies.
Day after day, the Darkhad work tirelessly at the mausoleum. My role is to lead the rituals. I oversee use of the various sacrificial vessels, prepare and arrange the ceremony, and chant the traditional odes in homage to Genghis Khan.
We have the highest regard for all those who have visited the cemetery of Genghis Khan, but religious believers and ordinary travelers are treated differently. The former enter the mausoleum free of charge, with their status ranked according to the type and size of their offerings. The latter, meanwhile, have to pay for tickets. Preferential treatment — such as priority in making offerings, chanting blessings, and so on — is given to Ordos residents.
Price alone does not determine the value of the offering. For instance, a bottle of good maotai liquor costs far more than an entire sheep, but liquor does not merit the same blessings because Mongolians regard a whole sheep as a higher form of ceremony meant only for grand occasions. Mutton also doubles as food that the Ordos tribe — especially those of Darkhad lineage — serves only to distinguished guests.
Of course, we all recognize that times are changing. Of the approximately 6,000 Darkhad people alive today, many are no longer guardians. Instead, we are academics, government officials, farmers, herdsmen, private landowners, and much more. However, for some of us, certain things are constant: We try to remain steadfast in our beliefs and to worship our gods in the hope that they will bless us as their loyal subjects.
Hasibilige, Darkhad, Hasibilige is a member of the Darkhad people and protects the relics of Genghis Khan.
Revered by the likes of Chaucer and Jefferson, the Mongol leader is dismissed today as merely a ruthless barbarian. So why did he succeed in the Middle East where we have so spectacularly failed?
November 24 (Daily Beast) In stark contrast to the United States, with its scattered mini-wars around the globe, Genghis Khan always fought with one single, clear goal: victory. Total victory, not a qualified, partial, negotiated or hyphenated victory.
Since the opening of the 21st century, the United States has been engaged in ill-defined and metastasizing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the very countries where the Mongols were most successful. The Mongols conquered each of these countries in a matter of months, destroyed the notorious terrorist Cult of the Assassins based in the mountain fortresses of northern Iran, and wiped out all pockets of resistance to Mongol rule. They also famously killed the Caliph, a transgression which Osama bin Laden believed to be unforgivable.
The Mongol conquests, harsh and bloody as they were, produced an unprecedented century of peace and prosperity in the Middle East in precisely those countries where the sustained might of America has not managed to produce even a single day without the killing of children, bombing of hospitals, gassing of civilians, and dislodging of a perpetual stream of refugees that are now dangerously destabilizing Europe.
Genghis Khan's Mongol nation consisted of only about a million people, roughly half the size of the McDonald's workforce today, and his army had only 100,000 warriors, a number that could easily fit in a modern Olympic stadium. Yet with this army he not only conquered but ruled hundreds of millions of people. The United States has more than three hundred times as many people, its total military force is nearly twenty times that of Genghis Khan, and its budget and technology are infinitely greater. The Mongols fought with bows and arrows against the far more sophisticated empires of China and Khwarzim. Why were the Mongol wars so successful in Baghdad, and we so remarkably unsuccessful?
Americans would not think of looking to Genghis Khan for lessons on war, life, or much of anything because we generally believe that unlike heroic western conquerors such as Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon, he was an Asian barbarian who could not possibly teach us anything. In the modern West it seems ludicrous to present an illiterate nomad as equal to the great conquerors and law givers of European history. Yet there was a time, even in the West, when he was greatly respected. Geoffrey Chaucer called him a "noble king" and wrote that "there was nowhere in no region so excellent a lord in all things." Thomas Jefferson collected biographies of Genghis, and Edward Gibbon praised him.
Most people today perceive his victories as the result of brutality, and it is true that he used scorched-earth tactics to subdue his enemies. But if brutality alone were enough to secure a lasting victory, the United States would easily have easily conquered every country we have been at war with since Korea. As much as we would like to dismiss his victories, they arose from clear thinking, planning, and implementation, three commodities woefully lacking in American policy makers and war makers.
What did Gibbon and Jefferson see in Genghis Khan that we can no longer see? Genghis Khan's success can be summarized in five critical concepts by which he conquered, and more importantly, by which he successfully ruled and brought peace and prosperity to his subjects.
1. Total Confidence: Genghis Khan never attacked unless he knew that he could win. He prepared his army, gathered extensive intelligence about the enemy's army and social divisions with its society. If he could not win, he postponed the attack, sometimes for years, but he never forgot and never abandoned his goal. He instilled the same confidence in his people, and most importantly in his army. They had confidence that if he declared a war, they would win it quickly and efficiently and no matter how many fatalities they inflicted he would do everything to minimize loss of life for his soldiers. Genghis Khan had confidence in his people, and they showed total confidence in him.
2. Clarity: Genghis Khan was totally clear about his objectives in war and peace, and he made them equally clear to his enemies as well as to his followers. When he attacked, he gave his foe only one viable option. Like the Americans in the war against Japan and German in World War II, the choice was total and unconditional surrender or annihilation. Just as the Allies fire bombed Dresden and Wurzburg in Germany and Americans dropped atomic bombs on the women and children of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Genghis Khan unleashed ferocious violence on civilian populations. If they fought him, he annihilated them, but if they surrendered he faithfully kept every promise and protected them from every predator.
3. Choices: Genghis Khan never attacked without making clear to the enemy the reasons for the attack and the benefits they would have if they surrendered without fighting. While American presidents throw out a mystic fog of restoring democracy, respecting human rights, emancipating women, and building a new world order, Genghis Khan offered very specific benefits through his personal envoys and through messages attached to arrows shot into enemy cities. He outlawed the kidnapping and sale of women, ended taxes on religious institutions and public service occupations such as doctors and pharmacists, guaranteed religious freedom to every person, and always fulfilled his threat to execute any corrupt official or thief. If his enemies surrendered, there would be no increase in taxes and for many, especially merchants, a sharp decrease. He guaranteed the return of lost property, and he created as system of routes and bridges with caravan stations to facilitate travel and commerce. The consequences for refusal to surrender were the vague but ominous Mongol refrain, "the sky knows."
4. Consequences: Although the wording of the Mongol threat was vague, the consequences were frightfully clear. First, he killed all the leaders who resisted him, as well as their heirs, the aristocracy, and the entire ruling establishment. He did not try to persuade his sworn enemies, humiliate them, co-opt them, or incorporate them into his empire. He knew that they would be a constant source of problems and resistance. And if they had not been able to lead their people to victory over him, they were of no use. He killed them. The same applied to the enemy army. He had no place for them. The old elite was destroyed, but he spared almost everyone with a skill—whether it was weaving, metalwork, pottery, or knowing how to read and write or translate between languages. Those without skills were used as cannon fodder in the next campaign, digging ditches, serving as living shields for Mongol warriors, and performing any job too degrading or dangerous for a Mongol.
5. Consistency: Genghis Khan was consistent in keeping his promises and establishing law and peace. The Persian chronicler Juvaini wrote that a virgin with a pot of gold on her head could walk from one end of the Mongol empire to the other without fear of molestation. When Genghis Khan made war, it was total war, and when he made peace it was total peace. He was as steadfast and consistent in his rule as he was in battle.
As strict as his principles were, Genghis Khan also recognized the need for practicality, constantly learning through experience and adapting to changing conditions. When circumstances warranted it, he made exceptions for his harsh conquests to single out particularly virtuous or brave foes. When an enemy warrior attacked him and shot his horse out from under him, Genghis Khan demanded that his would-be killer identify himself. Fearing a certain and horrible death, the man stepped forward. Genghis Khan made him a general in his army, knowing that a man brave enough to attack the enemy leader and to admit it was worth having in his service. The warrior was renamed Jebe, after the type of arrow he used to kill Genghis Khan's horse, and he became one of the Mongol's greatest generals. Similarly, when Genghis Khan defeated his rival Wang Khan of the Kereyid tribe, he saw that the old khan's bodyguards fought fearlessly even when they were certain of defeat. After the battle, Genghis Khan asked them to join his bodyguard, knowing that they would do the same for him as for their fallen leader.
Genghis Khan established a century of peace, but he did not accomplish this through the might of his army or through the crushing defeat of his enemies. Peace lasted because he offered the common people a better life under Mongol rule, and allowed them guarantee to follow their traditional culture and religion without fear of persecution. He did not try to shape them into Mongols.
Confidence, clarity, choices and consequences, and consistency were his most effective weapons. America lacks all of these in its poorly focused and seemingly random efforts at fighting terrorism around the globe. Our leaders speak loudly but incoherently, and they react harshly but ineffectively. Our next president could learn a lot from Genghis Khan.
Jack Weatherford is the author of Genghis Khan and the Quest for God (Viking).
Ulaanbaatar, November 24 (MONTSAME) On Wednesday, the cabinet approved the quota for hunting in 2017. It permitted hunting 68 male bighorn sheep, 75 male ibexes, 32 otters, 10 roe deers, 10 boars, 100 gazelles and 400 game birds, for special purposes, and 500 taimens for sport fishing.
According to a professional institution's estimation, the above mentioned quota is not harmful for the growth of population of the animals.
The quoted prices for a head of game animals were also increased by up to 30 percent, taking into account the rise of inflation rate since 2001 and 2005 and the recommendations given by specialized organizations, the Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Experimental Biology.
In 2016, the hunting quota was 60 male bighorn, 70 male ibexes, 30 otters, 20 grey wolves, 10 boars, 10 roe deers, 150 gazelles and 400 hunting birds, and catch & release quota for taimens were 400, as approved in 2015.
So far this year, 37 soums of 13 provinces have accumulated some MNT 940 million from hunting permit fees.
Ulaanbaatar, November 24 (MONTSAME) Mongolia ranked the fifth in the world, with 21 gold, 27 silver and 42 bronze medals from international competitions, according to the International Judo Federation Ranking.
The list of top ten countries with most medals count in 2016 was led by Japan with 52 gold, 20 silver and 33 bronze from the Grand Prix, Grand Slams and Masters competitions.
The IJF competitions for 2016 will complete with the Grand Slam to be held in Japan.
November 24 (news.mn) The Mongolian national basketball team is competing in the World University League Basketball 3x3, which is currently taking place in Xiamen, China. The Mongolian boys' team qualified for the semi-final, winning three and losing one in Group B. This has been a great success for Mongolian basketball.
Yesterday (23rd of November), Mongolian national basketball team played against Australia and won 19:12. Striker A.Gansukh took 8 points. Mongolia will play against Lebanon for silver medal today (24th of November).
November 24 (UB Post) Asian weightlifting champion and world university weightlifting champion M.Ankhtsetseg returned to Mongolia on November 21.
M.Ankhtsetseg's parents, family, friends, and coaches, and Mongolians welcomed her at Chinggis Khaan International Airport.
M.Ankhtsetseg competed in two international tournaments last week and claimed gold medals in both tournaments.
During the World University Weightlifting Championship, M.Ankhtsetseg injured her elbow. She left for a hospital with her family and coach right after landing in Mongolia.
The young weightlifter competed in two big tournaments without the presence and guidance of her coach Ts.Khosbayar due to financial issues.
World champion M.Ankhtsetseg gave a brief interview after landing at Chinggis Khaan International Airport.
Congratulations on becoming Asian and world champion. How do you feel?
Thank you. I am very happy that I became Asian and world champion. I have won six gold medals in total from international competitions. It was hard to compete without my coach. I missed my teacher a lot. The worst thing was going without my coach. I feel powerful when my coach says, "Ankhaa, you can do it" during tournaments.
Other countries' athletes kept asking, "Are you competing without a coach?" But I did it. I want to thank to my parents, coach Ts.Khosbayar, the Mongolian Weightlifting Federation, Souvenir House, Mungur Guur (Silver Bridge) Hospital, and the people of Mongolia.
How stay in touch with coach Ts.Khosbayar during the Asian and World Championships?
I had a connection with my coach during the whole tournaments. My teacher told me, "I am always with you in my heart. Be confident and brave. You can do it, Ankhaa." My teacher gave me a letter of instructions. I prepared well for both tournaments.
Coach Ts.Khosbayar didn't go with you because of financial difficulty. How much money did you spend to compete in the tournaments?
Me and coach needed 22 million MNT in total in order to compete in the Asian and World University Championships. The Mongolian Weightlifting Federation is facing financial difficulties and couldn't afford my expenses. I raised the funding myself. The Governor's Office of Selenge Province, Nomgoljin Company, and State Champion (highest title of traditional Mongolian wrestling) G.Erkhembayar helped me a lot.
Former professional sumo wrestler yokozuna D.Dagvadorj promised that he will sponsor you for Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Some people criticized that D.Dagvadorj should have helped this time and that he didn't keep his promise.
Some people misunderstood. Yokozuna D.Dagvadorj always supports me. He provides me with sports clothing, vitamins and protein powder. I asked financial help before going to the Asian and World Championships and he said, "I'm not able to help financially this time."
People have to understand that everyone is facing financial difficulties.
Four countries offered you and your coach their citizenships. You refused. Do you regret this?
No, I don't. I am an athlete of Mongolia. I want to remain Mongolian athlete Ankhtsetseg Munkhjantsan. I won't accept citizenships from other countries in the future. Every athlete wants to be an Olympic champion. My biggest dream is also to become an Olympic champion. I want to be announced, "Mongolian athlete M.Ankhtsetseg and Olympic champion."
You injured your elbow during the World University Weightlifting Championship. Are you in pain?
It hurts very badly. I am taking painkillers. I don't know exactly what was injured. I am going to a hospital now.
November 24 (UB Post) Mongolian swimmer Sh.Davaadorj won a gold medal at the Winter Swimming World Cup, which was held in Vladivostok, Russia, from November 17 to 20.
Sh.Davaadorj, 47, is considered to be Mongolia's first winter swimmer. He prepared for the Winter Swimming World Cup in Khuvsgul Lake before heading to Russia.
Over 800 participants from around the world took part in the tournament.
Sh.Davaadorj won two bronze medals from international winter swimming tournaments for masters, which took place last month.
Three Indians and a Tata Nano conquer the world, or at least half it, as they drive from London to Mongolia, all for a good cause.
November 25 (Autocar India) What happens when you bring three adventure junkies and a tiny car together? Why of course, you get a drive that spans 18,200 kilometres and 13 countries. This is the story of the NanoMADs, a trio of what-were-they-thinking Bengaluru residents who participated in one of the most curious and arduous automotive challenges out there – the Mongol Rally.
If you haven't heard of the Mongol Rally before, here it is in a nutshell: Described as "the greatest adventure in the world", it is a car rally that begins in London, the UK and ends in Ulan-Ude, Russia and requires its participants to follow just three simple rules: the car must be small, with an engine capacity less than a litre; you must complete the rally on your own, without any backup vehicle; and "save the world" in the process by raising a minimum of £1,000 in charity.
The NanoMADs comprise Bhairav Kuttaiah, Binoy John and Sunaina Pamudurthy, close friends who share an inclination for the unknown. They picked a Tata Nano, partnered with the charity Make a Difference and set off to London for what would turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime. The Nano was chosen partly because it complied with the under-1.0-litre rule and partly because of national pride – it would be the first Indian car to participate in the rally.
When Bhairav, a lawyer, recounts the ups and downs of his 48 days on the road, his eyes light up like a Christmas tree. The eccentricities began at the start line itself – the NanoMADs had forgotten to pack an air compressor, so they bartered a turban (Yes, a turban!) for one.
Since the Mongol Rally is all about finishing, and not finishing first, the NanoMADs adopted the most circuitous route to pass through as many countries as possible. From London, they drove through France, crossed Spain, traversed a whole bunch of mainland European countries, trudged through an extensive portion of Russia, cut through Mongolia and re-entered Russia to end in Ulan-Ude.
On the way, they parked in the most privileged parking spot outside Casino Monte Carlo next to Rolls-Royces and Ferraris, passed through Ayrton Senna's memorial at Imola, Italy, got stuck in a river bed crossing before being rescued by locals in Mongolia, dented a rim, did some serious off-roading, got lost, found their way… you get the point.
November 25 (Inquirer.net) A contestant from "Mongolia's Got Talent" astounded people, both online and offline, with his electrifying and leading-edge spectacle.
Mongolian dancer Canion Shijirbat, a professional graphics designer, performed a dance number with elements of graphic design. Grooving to a remix of "Where Are You Now," Shijirbat performed with animated stars, shadows and virtual clones of himself for the show's semifinals.
"I think when we do something for someone else, there is nothing you can't achieve even though it is impossibly hard," he told the judges, who cheered him with a standing ovation.
"That was eye-pleasuring," judge Tserenlham "Deegi" Delgertsetseg said. "You did this with maximum potential."
You are really the thing [person] I and we Mongolians are looking for," judge and "Haranga" rock bassist Tserendorj "Chuka" Chuluunbat commented on his performance.
Not only did he impress the judges, Shijirbat also received a "thumbs up" from YouTube users spanning across Asia.
Shijirbat's spectacular performance uploaded on YouTube has collected 950,000 views as of Friday morning.
Link to article (and video)
'Eagle Huntress' informs, reveals, delights – The Telegraph, November 23
November 26 (Variety) In Oscar history, no feature documentary has been nominated for best picture. At some point that will change, and certainly many of the 2016 docus are credible contenders.
Even if that doesn't happen, voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences should remember that documentaries are eligible in other categories. As a few examples: The editing of "13th" (Ava DuVernay's gripping study), "O.J.: Made in America" and "Fire at Sea"; the cinematography in "The Eagle Huntress" and "The Ivory Game"; and the sound in "Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing" and "Miss Sharon Jones!" are as complex and impressive as any narrative film. These documentaries and many others, deserve recognition in multiple areas.
Though docus have gained a few nominations over the years, including editing bids for "Woodstock" and "Hoop Dreams," they are generally ignored outside their own category. But the docu-makers' degree of difficulty is often extreme.
For example, "The Eagle Huntress" is about 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv, a Mongolian girl who wants to follow in her father's footsteps and join the male-dominated profession of hunting with a trained eagle.
It's a pretty oddball topic, but the movie is fun and the artisan work is impressive. Otto Bell, in his filmmaking debut, worked with a team under conditions that rival "The Revenant": temperatures of 50 degrees below zero, limited sunlight each day and treacherous locations. (Needless to say, the film was made for a fraction of the "Revenant" budget.)
"Huntress" features a 12-minute sequence when Aisholpan and her father scramble up a cliff to take a young eagle from his nest just a day or two before he is ready to fly. The sequence is heart-stopping — even more so when you realize the filmmakers had to climb that same cliff.
Bell laughs that the crew basically consisted of three people; as for that dangerous climb, "It was our first day of filming." And they had to do it in one take, before the mother eagle returned to the nest. Two people were on the cliff filming the action; cameraman Chris Raymond shot the action from the base of the mountain; and a Go-Pro was attached to Aisholpan "for that crucial third angle and her point of view; 99% of the stuff from that camera was unusable but for those few moments, it was a godsend."
Other sequences involve her training the eagle (after seven years, tradition demands that the bird be returned to the wild) and competing in a local festival/contest. Bell says of cinematographer Simon Niblett: "He was shooting from hundreds of yards away, and the bird moves at 180 miles per hour, but he managed to keep those images so sharp. His depth of field is down to a foot and a half."
The small team took about six or seven trips to Mongolia, July 2014 to March 2015, funded by Bell himself. "After I visited for the first time, I realized the scale of landscape and how we needed to do justice to it. I didn't want to scrimp on the cinematography.
"My biggest expense was excess luggage: I took about 700 kilos of gear. That included an S1000 drone that could carry a 4K camera. And Simon built a 9-meter aluminium crane that folds into a snowboard bag."
Bell did much of the sound, with a hand-held zoom recorder. For most of the sequences, there was no chance of retakes, but they tried to get as much coverage as possible. "It was a bit ragtag, to be honest," he laughs, "but our editor Pierre Takal smoothed it all out."
The Sony Pictures Classics release is just one of 145 documentaries that were submitted for Oscar this year. Most of them, like this film, were done with minimum budgets and maximum ingenuity. The work deserves consideration.
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