Pages

Monday, November 14, 2016

[MMC agrees terms; RIO caught in bribery scandal; KCC closes Ibex merger; TER signs coal offtake; and BoM intervenes after absence]

Please click Display Images or Download Pictures to properly view this newswire

Monday, November 14, 2016

Follow Cover Mongolia on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Blogspot

Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - EconomyPolitics & Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy Health & EducationCulture & SocietyNature & Environment - SportsArt & Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         Mongolia Mining Gets Creditor Support to Restructure 2017 Notes

·         Turquoise Hill announces financial results and review of operations for the third quarter of 2016

·         Turquoise Hill's (TRQ) CEO Jeffery Tygesen on Q3 2016 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

·         Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) Given "Buy" Rating at TD Securities

·         Kopernik Global Investors buys $34,340,349 stake in Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TRQ)

·         Two former Rio Tinto CEOs caught up in African payment probe

·         Kincora receives all approvals, closes Ibex transaction

·         Kincora investor Ivanhoe Industries acquires shares

·         TerraCom signs Mongolian coal deal

·         Petro Matad: Operational Update 

·         Wolf Petroleum: Completion of the Issue of Phase 3 Shares and Options to SAM Group

·         Haranga: Pro-Rata Non-Renounceable Entitlement Issue – Despatch of Offer Documents

·         Entrée Gold Comments on Recent Trading Activity

·         Eumeralla: Results of Annual General Meeting held on 11 November 2016

·         Prophecy Coal: Corporate Update and Early Warning Report

·         Prophecy Chairman Acquires 5,000 Shares On-Market

·         Centerra Gold Revises 2016 Guidance Favourably and Reports Third Quarter Results

·         Khan Announces Results of Special Meeting of Shareholders, Declares Distribution of CDN$0.85

·         Government to host a roundtable discussion with foreign investment partners

Local Market

·         MSE Weekly Trading Report: Top 20 -2.07%, ALL -1.67%, Turnover ₮67.5 Million Shares, ₮8.8 Billion T-Bills

·         GoM Offering ₮20 Billion 28-Week T-Bills at 16.89% Discount on MSE

·         Tavantolgoi JSC Board Announces Shareholders' Meeting to Elect Board Members on December 7

·         GoM sells ₮10 billion 52-week t-bills at 16.995% discount via MSE

·         Darkhan Hotel JSC Board Approves 100-for-1 stock Split

Economy

·         Mongolian Officials Back IMF Program Amid Widening Budget Gap

·         BoM MNT Rates: Friday, November 11 Close

·         BoM sells US$72.4m at ₮2,450, CNY73m at ₮358.23 in irregular auction

·         BoM declines bids for US$71.2m, CNY123m and $4m MNT swap offers

·         BoM issues ₮123.35 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -17.7% to ₮466.35 billion

·         GoM sells ₮145 billion 12-week t-bills at 16.848% discount from announced ₮150 billion

·         GoM sells ₮5 billion 39-week t-bills at 16.99% discount from announced ₮40 billion

·         GoM sells ₮5 billion 52-week t-bills at 17% discount from announced ₮40 billion

·         BoM buys 2.2 tons of gold in October, 15.9 tons YTD, +23.6% from 2015

·         BoM Mortgage Loan Report, September 2016

·         BoM instates new mortgage rules

·         Mongolbank taking all possible measures to stabilize currency rate

·         Tugrik plunge is temporary according to officials of Bank of Mongolia

·         Mongolia to receive ₮7.4 trillion loans in 2017 says OSF

·         Mongol Bank projects 2-4% GDP grown and 3-5% inflation for 2017

·         BoM governor: "Mongolia should draw more direct foreign investment"

·         BoM launches Statistical Database menu on website

·         Mongolian economist shares his solution to economic challenges

·         What's in Mongolia's program on overcoming economic difficulties and stabilization

·         Mongolia parliament approves 2017 budget with ₮2.4 trillion deficit

·         Mongolian population reaches 3 million 57 thousand

·         Mongolia's energy project paradox

·         Copper storms towards biggest weekly gain since 1980 after surprise Trump win

·         Coal Prices on Fire

·         Gold Prices Reach Five-Month Low

·         Iron Ore Rises to More Than Two-Year High

·         Oil Falls to Eight-Week Low as OPEC Output Gain Threatens Accord

Politics & Legal

·         Former PM Altankhuyag announces run for President

·         Offshore allegations: Kyokushuzan D.Batbayar say he was mistaken

·         Prime Minister gives tasks regarding winter preparations and currency rate

·         PM visits major projects in South Gobi

·         Parliament OKs state-owned companies' privatizations, discussing of Offshore Law amendments

·         MP T.Ayursaikhan opposes the privatization of certain state-owned enterprises

·         Budget Standing Committee task force reports on review of state-owned companies

·         Erdenet Mining Corp. appoints new board

·         MPP weighs in on the government's 2017 economic policy

·         Parliament to receive and consider 259 bills in four years

·         Risk Foresight: Signs of increased foreign investment returning to Mongolia

·         Wages for prosecutors and Constitutional Court judges to increase

·         MP N.Enkhbold receives UN delegation to exchange views on cooperation

·         Mongolia – Rich in Governance Models

·         Basics of Mongolia Land Law

·         National Forum on Sustainable Development to kick off on November 17

·         Religious Freedom Report 2016 – Mongolia

·         Mongolia ranks 76th in 2016 Prosperity Index

·         Jargal De Facto: Mongolia's defective democracy

·         UNICEF Director speaks about children's rights in Mongolia

·         There's no business like politics

Business

·         Cabinet backs ratifying amendments to Marrakesh Agreement on WTO

·         N.Uchral: Mongolia has an opportunity to export intellectual property

·         USD loan holders file suit against government

·         Parliament ratifies financial agreement with World Bank on Export Oriented Project

·         Prime Minister urges Tavan Tolgoi miners to cooperate

·         Mongolia's Top State Coal Miner Aims to Double Exports Next Year

·         Mongolia Seeks to Revive Shenhua Talks for Tavan Tolgoi Railway

·         Shenhua Energy expresses readiness to collaborate on major projects

·         Mongolia-China Council on Minerals, Energy and Infrastructure formed

·         National company making eco-fuel from Khushuut coal

·         Mongolia wants to launch its casino market

·         Government approves percentage of foreign labor force and specialists

·         Gobi JSC introduces a new luxury brand "YAMA"

·         "Ugalz" sheepskin seat cover - proudly produced in Mongolia

·         Business opportunities in Mongolia presented in Singapore

·         UAE companies to join int'l expo in Mongolia

·         Good harvest: domestic flour and potato demand met

·         Mongolia and Laos to study feasibility of launching meat trade

·         Sea buckthorn factory opens beside Khaan Jims resort

·         Taiwan offers to buy sea buckthorn from Mongolia

·         ROK-China-Mongolia direct freight service launched

·         ENGIE and Ferrostaal join forces in Mongolian wind farm project

·         Renewable energy sector offers bright spot for Mongolia

·         Talking Sheep Farming in Mongolia, Sweaters, and Strong Brands With Steven Alan and Naadam

·         He Went To The Desert With $3 Million In Cash—And Left With 150 Tons Of Cashmere

·         Mongolian woman working as designer for Apple

·         AmCham Members Meet with the State Secretary of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for November 11, 2016

·         Gradon Architecture grows team following project wins

·         Key Things To Know About Mining In Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan And Mongolia

·         Asia Frontier Capital Interview: Opportunities In Vietnam, Pakistan, Sri Lanka And Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar

·         "Happy City" programme to expand green areas

·         UB auctioning 138.47 hectares of land on December 6

·         Thermal Power Plant IV prepares for winter

·         Pit latrines are major cause of soil pollution

·         Driving under pressure

·         Hackathon – Mapping the future of conservation in Mongolia

·         Ulaanbaatar Clean Air Project : P122320 - Implementation Status Results Report : Sequence 09 (English)

Diplomacy

·         Mongolia Expresses Interest to Join Eurasian Economic Union – Ambassador

·         Is the Eurasian Economic Union right for Mongolia?

·         Russia open for political dialogue with Mongolia — diplomat

·         Sergey Lavrov sends congratulatory message on 95th jubilee of Mongolia-Russia diplomatic ties

·         FM Ts.Munkh-Orgil congratulates his Russian counterpart on 95th anniversary of Mongolia-Russia diplomatic relations

·         Mongolia, Russia to seek new ways of boosting economic ties

·         Ulaanbaatar to host Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Committee meeting in December

·         Mongolia to receive 40 million-euro loan from Austrian Government

·         Mongolia, China foreign ministries hold 18th consular meeting

·         New Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia appointed

·         Review: New PM's visit to Japan

·         Bulgarian President bestows highest award to Mongolian Ambassador

·         N.Korea Trying to Send Slave Labor to Mongolia

·         UAE Ambassador received by the Mongolia FM to discuss economic cooperation

·         Mongolian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister meets the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh

·         FM welcomes Austrian Foreign Secretary General

·         Chinggis Khaan and his warriors to parade in D.C.

·         Chinese NPC Tibetan delegation visited Mongolia, SriLanka, and Myanmar

·         PM meets with ambassadors of Laos, Australia, and Czech Republic

·         Mongolian permanent rep to UN delivers speech on HRC meeting

·         Mongolian media delegation impressed by Guangzhou's tradition and modernity

·         Hong Kong National Party reiterates call for independence at meeting with Mongolian exiles

·         Ulaanbaatar to cooperate with Budapest on tourism projects

·         Mongolia film to be shown in series in Kenosha, WI

Health & Education

·         Soum doctors to hold Telemedicine conferences every Tuesday

·         Government bans advertisement and procurement of organ donation

·         UN backs Mongolia-initiated resolution on eradicating illiteracy

·         ADB, UNICEF Sign Cooperation Agreement to Improve Water, Sanitation, Hygiene in Schools in Western Region

·         Dentist to give presentation missions to Mongolia

·         Mongolia to train Energy-Saving managers

·         Civil defense training center opens

·         Mongolia attends World Cancer Congress

·         Doctors improve their communication skills with Luxembourg help

·         National University of Mongolia formalizes cooperation with Moscow Higher School of Economics

·         International Jewelry Designer Cherry Chau visits Lotus Children's Centre in Mongolia

·         Australia Awards scholarship program could be resumed for Mongolia

·         Korea transfers occupational safety and health knowhow to Mongolia

·         Reforming higher education

Culture & Society

·         Beyond the yurt: Mongolian life caught on camera

·         Old Mongolian manuscripts go on show in Saint Petersburg

·         Preservation of the Archaeological Tomb of Shoroon Bumbagar continues

·         Symbolism of Mongolian wedding ring

·         Opinion: Why Mongolia and North Dakota aren't economic miracles

·         Hong Kong photo auction to help Mongolia's suffering tent children

·         'Horse Packing In Mongolia' presented Nov. 11

·         Charlene Woods: Mission Report from Mongolia

·         Traditions of the gaucho, cowboy, and Mongol

·         This 15-Year-Old Mongolian Eagle Huntress Deserves to Be the Next Elsa From Frozen

Nature & Environment

·         Climate change threatens nomadic herding lifestyle

·         South Korea to help Mongolia save its water reserves

·         Coldest winter in 100 years awaits

·         Khustai Mountain – Home to the largest number of Takhi

·         Berkeley Geologists Demonstrate How Continental Growth Occurred through Collision in Mongolia

·         Sustainability work to protect the endangered species in Mongolia

·         Beavers face deportation to Kazakhstan and Mongolia

·         On the Trail of Ghosts: Searching for Snow Leopards in Mongolia

·         'Stone pattern' mineral exhibition opens in Ulaanbaatar

·         Herder discovers giant fossil skull

·         Dinosaur claws were tough – even the proteins in their sheaths have survived for 75 million years

Sports

·         Government presents cash prize to Olympic and Paralympic medalists

·         Mongolian team wins World Memoriad 2016

·         Grand Master S.Tsogbadrakh breaks Word Mental Olympics record

·         Basketball: National Super League starts today in Mongolia

·         Dog Sledding Season Opening Tour

·         Mongolia grabs 19 medals from the 2016 World Youth Draught Championships

·         All Mongolian freestyle wrestlers secure medals at Russian championships

·         Strong Mongolian team leaves for World Sambo Championship

·         Large Mongolian team to compete at World Bodybuilding Championship

·         The life of a female sumo wrestler

·         Laos reach AFC Solidarity Cup semis at expense of Mongolia

·         AFC Solidarity Cup: Mongolia 2-0 Sri Lanka

·         Aspiring MAs Benefit from Development Focus of AFC Solidarity Cup

·         Marat Gafurov Defends Belt Against Jadambaa With Sixth Straight Rear-Naked Choke

Art & Entertainment

·         State Academic Theater of Drama to celebrate its 85th anniversary

·         Nat'l Folk Song and Dance Ensemble becomes a Grand Theatre

·         'Asian Queen' G.Oyungerel to host 'Mongolia's Next Top Model'

·         360° exhibition returns for 4th year

·         Poets, writers honor memory of D.Natsagdorj- founding father of contemporary literature

·         Beauty Talks with Miss World Mongolia Bayartsetseg Altangerel

·         An Apology From Mongolia Men's Conquering Nomads

Travel

·         Chinggis Khaan International Airport launches a new system for passenger security checks

·         Visa fees will be paid in Mongolian Tugrik only

·         How Long Can Russian and Mongolian Bureaucracy Keep You Hostage?

·         Mongolia From Above: Khövsgöl & Terelj

·         What Places Do Travel Agents Dream of Visiting?

·         Getty Images: 20 reasons why Mongolia is one of the top travel destinations ...

·         Mongolia: The Destination that Epitomizes Getting Away From It All

·         5 Reasons Mongolia Is a Photographer's Paradise

·         6 Reasons to Make Mongolia Your Next Travel Destination

·         Karakorum, the Mongolia Countryside, and the broad definition of a Hotel

·         8 Ethical Travel Destinations to Visit in 2017

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

975 closed +4.9% last week to HK$0.32, +5.2% Friday previous on the announcement

Mongolia Mining Gets Creditor Support to Restructure 2017 Notes

By Michael Kohn

November 5 (Bloomberg) -- The support of lenders for the restructure of coking-coal producer Mongolia Mining Corp.'s $600 million notes due in 2017 is seen setting up the company, which is in provisional liquidation, to take advantage of surging prices for coal and a stabilizing political landscape in Mongolia.

"With MMC emerging from default, the company can now participate in a deal to build and operate state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, the world's largest undeveloped coking-coal mine," said Nick Cousyn, chief operating officer in Ulaanbatar at BDSec, the country's largest brokerage. "With a restructured balance sheet, coking-coal prices at five-year highs and a deal to develop ETT on the table, MMC prospects have never looked better."

Creditors will support the key commercial terms of a debt- restructuring proposal for the notes of the Hong Kong-listed miner, according to a filing issued Thursday. The decision comes after production cuts in China earlier this year sent inventories to the lowest levels since 2008, causing prices for coking coal to triple.

"Investors are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,'' Bilguun Ankhbayar, Chief Executive Officer of the Mongolian Investment Banking Group, said by e-mail. The rebound in coal prices in China is suggesting that MMC, which owns the Ukhaa Khudag mine, 240 kilometers (149 miles) from the Chinese frontier, could be in a position to recover financially, he said.

On top of coal prices, Bilguun says the outcome of recent elections in Mongolia may help MMC in its bid to develop Tavan Tolgoi coalfield in a deal with a group including China's Shenhua Energy Co. The Mongolian People's Party won a majority in June elections, opening the door to stable governance until 2020.

Since its June victory, the MPP has vowed to push forward mega-projects to kick-start Mongolia's distressed economy, and has cited Tavan Tolgoi as a priority project and crucial source of foreign investment. Mongolia is planning to begin talks with Shenhua on developing the mine this month, Ganbat Dangaa, Mongolia's Minister for Road and Transport Development, said on Friday.

"MMC would have been precluded from participating in the consortium to develop ETT had they stayed in default," said BDSec's Couysn. "Creditors understood the substantial value which would be created with MMC's participation in this deal."

(BN)

Link to MMC release

Back to Headlines

TRQ closed +15.36% last week to US$3.37

Turquoise Hill announces financial results and review of operations for the third quarter of 2016

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - November 03, 2016) - Turquoise Hill Resources today announced its financial results for the quarter ended September 30, 2016. All figures are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Oyu Tolgoi achieved an excellent safety performance with an All Injury Frequency Rate of 0.12 for open-pit operations and 0.26 for the underground project per 200,000 hours worked for the nine months ended September 30, 2016.
  • Good progress continued during Q3'16 on underground development, including ongoing contractor mobilization and the signing of an additional contract for the sinking of Shafts 2 and 5.
  • At the end of Q3'16, Oyu Tolgoi had spent $105.8 million on underground expansion capital and had commitments of more than $750 million.
  • On October 21, 2016, Turquoise Hill filed the updated Oyu Tolgoi Technical Report.
  • Oyu Tolgoi recorded revenue of $226.3 million in Q3'16, a decrease of 31.4% over Q2'16, primarily reflecting reduced gold sales as a result of lower gold production.
  • Turquoise Hill generated operating cash flow before interest and taxes of $24.0 million in Q3'16 reflecting the impact of reduced gold production and sales in concentrates.
  • For Q3'16, Turquoise Hill reported a net loss from continuing operations attributable to shareholders of $31.4 million.
  • In Q3'16, concentrator throughput declined 4.0% over Q2'16 due to planned maintenance and conveyor belt repairs.
  • Copper production in Q3'16 declined 9.9% over Q2'16, as a result of lower recovery from Phase 6 ore.
  • As expected, gold production in Q3'16 declined 47.1% over Q2'16 due to lower grades from the completion of mining Phase 2.
  • For Q3'16, Oyu Tolgoi's C1 cash costs were $1.56 per pound of copper and all-in sustaining costs were $2.00 per pound of copper.
  • Turquoise Hill's cash and cash equivalents at September 30, 2016 were approximately $1.4 billion.
  • Turquoise Hill Chair Jill Gardiner has decided to retire from the Company's Board effective December 31, 2016. Independent director Peter Gillin has been appointed as Chair of the Board of Directors effective January 1, 2017.

Link to release

Related:

Oyu Tolgoi Announces Q3'16 PerformanceOyu Tolgoi LLC, November 4

Back to Headlines

Turquoise Hill's (TRQ) CEO Jeffery Tygesen on Q3 2016 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

November 4 (Seeking Alpha) --

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) Given "Buy" Rating at TD Securities

November 6 (MarketBeat.com) TD Securities reaffirmed their buy rating on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (NYSE:TRQ) in a report published on Sunday morning. The firm currently has a $5.50 price objective on the stock.

Other equities analysts have also issued reports about the stock. Scotiabank reaffirmed a sector perform rating and issued a $5.00 price objective on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research report on Tuesday, July 19th. RBC Capital Markets reaffirmed a sector perform rating and issued a $5.00 price objective on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research report on Thursday, October 13th. Credit Suisse Group AG reaffirmed a neutral rating and issued a $5.00 price objective (up from $4.75) on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research report on Wednesday, October 26th. Royal Bank Of Canada assumed coverage on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research report on Monday, July 18th. They issued a sector perform rating and a $4.00 price objective for the company. Finally, Canaccord Genuity assumed coverage on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research report on Wednesday, August 17th. They issued a hold rating and a $4.50 price objective for the company. Eight research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $4.69.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Kopernik Global Investors buys $34,340,349 stake in Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TRQ)

November 3 (MarketBeat.com) Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TRQ) : Kopernik Global Investors scooped up 1,360,761 additional shares in Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd during the most recent quarter end , the firm said in a disclosure report filed with the SEC on Oct 31, 2016. The investment management firm now holds a total of 11,149,464 shares of Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd which is valued at $34,340,349.Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd makes up approximately 7.79% of Kopernik Global Investors's portfolio.

Other Hedge Funds, Including , Spot Trading L.l.c sold out all of its stake in TRQ during the most recent quarter. The investment firm sold 27,681 shares of TRQ which is valued $85,257. Nwam sold out all of its stake in TRQ during the most recent quarter. The investment firm sold 91,836 shares of TRQ which is valued $280,100.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

RIO closed +12.4% last week to £3.04. RIO trading -1.34% this morning in Sydney

Two former Rio Tinto CEOs caught up in African payment probe

November 10 (Australian Financial Review) Former Rio Tinto chief executives Tom Albanese and Sam Walsh were involved in discussions over the merits of paying a French consultant $US10.5 million ($13.7 million) to ensure the miner's relationship with the Guinean government went "smoothly" after a dispute over the massive Simandou iron ore project was resolved.

According to email correspondence on May 10, 2011, Rio's then chief executive Tom Albanese, head of iron ore Sam Walsh and senior executive Alan Davies were involved in discussions over the merits of paying consultant Francois de Combret $US10.5 million for his "very unique and unreplaceable services and closeness to the [Guinean] President" Alpha Condé.

The payment became public knowledge on Tuesday after Rio revealed in a brief statement that it had suspended Mr Davies, who ran Rio's iron ore operations outside Australia at the time, while regulatory and legal boss Debra Valentine had stood down over a payment made to the consultant for "providing advisory services" in connection with Simandou.

The Anglo-Australian miner released the statement after becoming aware of the emails on August 29 but did not spell out the name of the consultant, the services he provided in the west African nation or the names of the other senior executives involved in the email discussion with Mr Davies. The statement suggest the payment was made in full.

Rio has notified the US Department of Justice, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Serious Fraud Office in Britain, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and Australian Federal Police about the correspondence.

Outstanding dispute

Copies of the emails obtained by The Australian Financial Review shed light on the nature of Rio's concerns.

The correspondence shows Mr Davies requested the payment be made to Mr de Combret just days after Rio announced it would pay the government of Guinea $US700 million to resolve an outstanding dispute over the southern half of the Simandou project known as blocks 3 and 4.

Rio lost northern blocks 1 and 2 in 2008 when Guinea's then dictator, Lansana Conté, assigned them to BSG Resources, a company controlled by Israeli diamond tycoon Beny Steinmetz.

The emails that have Rio worried:

Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

From: Walsh, Sam (RTIO)

Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 10:47 AM

To: Albanese, Tom (RTHQ)

Subject: Fw: Confidential: Francois de Combret

====

Tom,

Alan attempted to settle with Francois at $7.5 million, but he is holding out for

$10.5 million. No question that he delivered sizeable value, but also no question that there is still sizeable risk going forward. I wonder if the answer is to hold part of the funds in an account in his name, but subject to first shipment. Alan won't like this, but I can't see another solution. Appreciate any thoughts that you have

Sam

From: Davies, Alan (RTIO)

Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 02:15 PM

To: Walsh, Sam (RTIO)

Subject: Confidential: Francois de Combret

====

Sam

Further to our discussions about Francois de Combret's fee and arrangements going forward, I provide the following update and request for approval. I have held discussions with Francois following your discussions with Tom last week. We have reached a final point, where Francois has requested a fee for services on securing 3 and 4 of US$10.5m. This is clearly stated as his bottom line, and a reduction from his request of US$15m.

Sam, I accept that this is a lot of money, but I also put forward that the result we achieved was significantly improved by Francois' contribution and his very unique and unreplaceable services and closeness to the President. He vouched for our integrity when it was needed and helped bring us together when things were looking extremely difficult. These services were of the most unique nature, and we will never fully be able to judge the potential outcome if he was not assisting in us in good faith.

My belief is that we had a very low probability of resecuring 3 and 4, but through a combination of the negotiations and Francois' unique help to me and Rio Tinto, we were able to close. There is still an enormous amount to do to secure the investment fully.

Since the signing, Francois has helped me on a number of communication issues with the President and the Minister of Mines, which has been invaluable. I have absolutely no doubt that Francois will not act as a friend of Rio Tinto going forward, and is extremely valuable insurance that things do go smoothly as we bed down the arrangements with the GoG.

I am extremely worried if we lose the direct connection to the President that I have cultivated with Francois. Francois has behaved with the utmost integrity and as I say, I have extreme confidence that he will continue to assist us to improve our relationship with the GoG and the President. There is also now a glimmer of possibility that we may be able to move ourselves into a useful position in relation to 1 and 2.

Irrespective of the good advances I have personally made, I am extremely pessimistic without the invaluable services that Francois has provided. This is not a standard situation, and is indeed extremely unique. I am very worried if we are not able to stabilize the situation and start delivering the project. Finalizing these discussions in a satisfactory way is extremely good insurance for Rio Tinto.

May I please have your approval to agree a final fee with Francois of US$10.5m I am devoted to transition our relationship onto very stable footing, and see this as a very necessary step to doing that.

Thanks for your understanding Sam

 

Alan Alan Davies

President International Operations

Rio Tinto Iron Ore

Message From: Walsh, Sam

Sent: 5/10/2011 2:32:53 PM

To: Davies, Alan (RTIO)

Subject: Fw: Confidential: Francois de Combret

====

Alan,

Got the figure up to $10.5 million but only holding an amount in escrow in his name subject to first shipment. I know that you won't like this, but put your thinking cap on.

Sam

From: Albanese, Tom (RTHQ)

Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 06:32 PM

To: Walsh, Sam (RTIO)

Subject: Re: Confidential: Francois de Combret

====

Sam,

Worth giving this a try, but also think about optics to the GoG.

Regards, Tom

 

Tom Albanese

Chief Executive Rio Tinto

Link to article

Link to Rio Tinto statement

Related:

Guinea distances itself from Rio Tinto's 'unique helper'AFR, November 13

Rio Tinto suspends senior executive after Guinea investigationReuters, November 9

Rio Tinto suspends executive as it investigates Guinea paymentsThe Guardian, November 9

Emails link Rio Tinto managers to Guinea paymentsFinancial Times, November 10

Rio Tinto suspends senior exec over Guinea mine bribery claimsThe Telegraph, November 9

Billionaire Says Rio Probe Proves Elaborate Plot to Strip Prized Guinea Mine RightsBloomberg, November 11

Ex-British PM Tony Blair on Guinea consult shortlistThe Australian, November 14

Back to Headlines

KCC closed +19.35% last week to C$0.37

Kincora receives all approvals, closes Ibex transaction

November 8 (Proactive Investors) Kincora Copper has reached the closing milestone for the Ibex transaction in Mongolia after receiving all key Mongolian approvals, and acceptance by the TSX Venture Exchange, with Kincora scrip (share) consideration placed into escrow pending the reregistration of the Ibex licences being achieved

Kincora Copper Ltd. (CVE:KCC) has reached the closing milestone for the Ibex transaction in Mongolia after receiving all key Mongolian approvals, and acceptance by the TSX Venture Exchange, with Kincora scrip (share) consideration placed into escrow pending the reregistration of the Ibex licences being achieved.

As initially announced on May 25, Kincora and High Power Ventures Inc., a private company controlled by High Power Exploration Inc., have agreed to consolidate their respective Mongolian landholding and services subsidiaries into the Ibex transaction.

The transaction results in Kincora having a 100% interest in a portfolio covering over 1,500 square kilometres and the majority of the prospective exploration licences that dominate a key geological trend between and along strike from the Oyu Tolgoi and Tsagaan Suvarga (Devonian) copper mines.

Kincora now holds an industry-leading proposition of copper-gold and gold targets, and the dominant landholding in this proven but underexplored gold-rich porphyry district.

"Closing the Ibex transaction results in Kincora being the largest landholder in the belt at a time when various incumbents are again looking to increase their exploration footprint and advance exploration efforts, with increased activity of potential new entrants undertaking due diligence revisiting the Southern Gobi's copper-gold potential," said Sam Spring, Kincora president and chief executive officer.

Link to release

Link to KCC release

Back to Headlines

Kincora investor Ivanhoe Industries acquires shares

Kincora Copper investor Ivanhoe Industries LLC has said that two of its affiliates, HPX Mongolia (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. and GCR Holdings Ltd. (Singapore), have completed the sale of certain assets in Mongolia to subsidiaries of Kincora by way of a merger under the share exchange agreement dated May 24

November 9 (Proactive Investors) Kincora Copper (CVE:KCC) investor Ivanhoe Industries LLC has said that two of its affiliates, HPX Mongolia (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. and GCR Holdings Ltd. (Singapore), have completed the sale of certain assets in Mongolia to subsidiaries of Kincora by way of a merger under the share exchange agreement dated May 24.

In exchange, HPX receives 3,275,000 common shares of Kincora (KCC) and 1,637,500 common share purchase warrants of Kincora, while GCR, receives 2.62mln Kincora shares and 1.31mln warrants.

Each warrant is exercisable into a common share of KCC at a price of 54 cents per KCC share until Nov. 7, 2018, subject to certain acceleration provisions. All of the securities considered herein will be held in escrow until the reregistration of certain mineral exploration licences belonging to HPX and GCR is complete. Such reregistration is expected to occur by the end of 2016. All of the securities considered herein are registered to an affiliate of HPX and GCR.

Upon issuance of the KCC shares, Ivanhoe Industries, through HPX and GCR, will have beneficial ownership of approximately 12.12% of the then issued and outstanding KCC shares. Assuming the exercise in full of the warrants, Ivanhoe Industries, through HPX and GCR, will be deemed to beneficially own approximately 17.15% of KCC's then issued and outstanding on a partially diluted basis.

Depending on economic or market conditions, or matters relating to KCC, HPX, GCR or Ivanhoe Industries, Ivanhoe Industries may choose to either acquire additional securities of KCC or dispose of securities of KCC, including dispositions to the shareholders of HPX and GCR, in accordance with applicable laws.

Link to article

Related:

Ivanhoe Industries, LLC: Completed Acquisition of Common Shares and Warrants of Kincora Copper Limited – November 8

Back to Headlines

TER closed flat last week at A$0.039, trading -0.1c this morning to A$0.038

TerraCom signs Mongolian coal deal

November 11 (news.com.au) Australian listed coal company TerraCom Limited (ASX: TER), through its Mongolian subsidiary, has executed binding long form definitive agreements with a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kingho Group, one of the largest private coal companies in China, for a 5.5-year offtake of hard coking coal produced from the Baruun Noyon Uul Coal Mine in the South Gobi in Mongolia.

The agreement is for a total of approximately 7.5 million tonnes over the term and has pricing linked to a commercially in confidence mine gate pricing structure that reflects the seaborne market. Payment terms are USD in the form of 100% Irrevocable Letter of Credit issued by a first class international bank. The Kingho Group will primarily use the BNU coal for their internal consumption at their coke plants.

TerraCom has fully commissioned the Baruun Noyon Uul coking coal mine in the South Gobi Mongolia and is focussed on becoming become one of the largest and highest quality coking coal producers in Mongolia, providing exceptional value for its steel-producing customers.

Inner Mongolia Kingho Group is a wholly subsidiary of China Kingho Group, which was formed in 1996 and is one of largest privately held mining and energy companies in China. Over recent years, China Kingho Group has developed significant expertise in resources development, coal washing, coal chemical, fine chemicals, clean energy, coal gasification and logistics.

Since it was founded in 2000 Inner Mongolia Kingho Group has imported more than 26 million tonnes of raw coal from Mongolia and has the capacity to wash 8 mpta of coal, produce 4 mtpa of coke, produce 400,000 tpa of methanol from coke oven off-gas and produce 200 million coal ash bricks.

The parent company, China Kingho Group produces 15 mtpa of coal, processes 12 mtpa of coal and produces 9 mtpa of coke.

In addition to its Mongolian ambitions, TerraCom is also focused on developing two priority projects in Queensland, Australia: the large thermal coal Northern Galilee Project and the high energy prime thermal coal Springsure Project.

In order to support further growth and expansion, TerraCom continues to evaluate cash generative assets for potential acquisition. In this regard, the Company has announced that it has reached agreement to acquire the Blair Athol Coal Mine (BA) in Queensland, Australia from the Blair Athol Joint Venture, with production scheduled to recommence in 2016.

The Company is also evaluating the acquisition of a hard coking coal mine in Kalimantan, Indonesia, a 500,000 tpa operation located in close proximity to road, barge and port infrastructure connecting it to the seaborne coal market.

Link to article

Link to TER release

Back to Headlines

MATD closed -9.04% last week to 2.97p

Petro Matad: Operational Update 

November 3, Petro Matad Ltd. (AIM:MATD) The Company is pleased to provide the following update on recent and planned activities. 

Operational Update 

The 2015-2016 acquired datasets have revealed additional new prospective basins which have significantly expanded the Company's basin portfolio. In summary, the Company's subsurface database in Blocks IV and V now consists of 4,200 km of 2D seismic, 11,000 km2 of Full Tensor Gradiometer and High Resolution Aeromagnetics, full coverage of blocks with conventional gravity and magnetics, two deep continuous stratigraphic coreholes, and extensive outcrop geological data. The data has been used to establish a diversified basin portfolio with multiple play types. Furthermore, the leads and prospects inventory developed from the basin portfolio have recently been peer reviewed and the process of high grading prospects to drillable targets has been completed. Multiple drillable targets have been identified and with this diversified prospect portfolio the Company is now well  positioned  to work towards finalization of next year's planned drilling program. 

An initial two well wildcat exploration drilling programme is expected to commence in mid-2017. The planned wells will be the first basin and play opener wells in the frontier basins of Central Mongolia, which is one of the last remaining untested exploration areas in Central Asia.  The primary objective of the wells will be to target the proven oil producing Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous play found in the basins of eastern Mongolia (Tamtsag, East Gobi) and eastern China (Hailar, Erlian, and Songliao). The secondary objective is the deeper play of Permian-Jurassic in age, analogous to the prolific systems of the western Chinese basins (Junggar, Santanghu and Turpan).   Further details on the planned exploration program will be announced once specific drill locations have been finalised. 

The Company is currently evaluating rig options and has conducted preliminary inspections of rigs capable of drilling to the depth the Company anticipates will be required (3000-3500 metres). The findings to date are very encouraging as rigs of the appropriate quality and standard are available within Mongolia and neighbouring countries. The Company expects to release its drilling tender before the end of 2016. 

Financial Update 

As previously notified, the Company has received a payment of $10,005,303 from Shell's affiliate because of its exit from Blocks IV and V. An additional $5,000,000, due upon approval of the reassignment of interest, has not yet been received. The Mongolian Government approval process requires sign-off at many levels before the cabinet ultimately provides final approval, and this has been delayed due to the Mongolian national elections in June and the subsequent reorganization of government departments. We expect approval will likely occur before the end of 2016.  Upon receiving government approval, Petro Matad's wholly owned affiliate (Central Asian Petroleum Corporation Limited) will hold 100% of Blocks IV and V. 

The Company has undertaken cost cutting measures which are expected to reduce G&A by approximately 30% over the remainder of 2016 and 2017. The savings realized, even in the absence of securing a farmout or additional funding, should enable the Company to fully finance the 2017 work program, including the drilling of two exploration wells. 

PSC Extension 

The Company recently met with the new Mongolian Government Department responsible for regulating Production Sharing Contracts - the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia (MRPAM) - to present the exploration potential of our blocks. MRPAM was very enthusiastic with the information provided to them and clearly indicated that they are aligned with Petro Matad on exploration strategy and are therefore supportive of an extension of Blocks IV and V beyond the current term expiry (July 2017). In addition to the two wells to be drilled in 2017, MRPAM recognizes that the Company's quality portfolio of drillable prospects will require additional time for drilling programs to be undertaken in 2018 and beyond. Furthermore MRPAM understands the significance of a drilling campaign in untested frontier basins in a region adjacent to the prolific producing basins in China. 

Commencement of Farmout Process 

Petro Matad is pleased to announce that a formal farmout process has commenced, for which working interests in the Company's three blocks (IV, V and XX) will potentially be on offer. The Company is of the view that sharing the risk of frontier exploration is a prudent approach for conserving existing funds and accessing additional funds, which will also allow for a more comprehensive exploration effort to fully explore the Company's vast frontier acreage.  Several companies have already signed confidentiality agreements and are currently reviewing the Company's technical data. 

Although the Company is in a position to finance the planned 2017 exploration program, the portfolio of quality drillable prospects greatly exceeds the two planned wells in 2017, which strongly argues for bringing in a partner to finance exploration programs beyond next year. With the promising results seen to date from the completed exploration work programs, Petro Matad is confident that there will be significant interest in the opportunity to farm in to one or more of the Company's blocks. 

In support of the farmout effort, the Company is pleased to announce that Philip Holloway has joined the Petro Matad team as New Ventures Manager. Philip worked for BG Group (now Shell) for 26 years and was instrumental in BG Group's decision to farm-in to Blocks IV and V in 2015. Philip has remained very optimistic on the potential of the Company's portfolio and was keen to join Petro Matad. In addition to leading the Company's farmout effort, Philip is a proven explorationist so will also have significant input into advancing the Company's exploration of Blocks IV and V. 

Further, Petro Matad has signed a contract with Zebra Data Sciences (ZDS), a United Kingdom based company that specializes in running virtual datarooms and promoting oil and gas opportunities.  ZDS provides online technical data-showcasing services for farm-out projects for the entire range of oil and gas companies. We expect the engagement of ZDS will greatly enhance the visibility of the Company's assets and consequently will result in a large number of companies being aware of the exciting opportunity to acquire an interest in our Mongolian blocks. 

Launch of New Website 

The Company is pleased to announce the launch of a new website with the domain name www.petromatadgroup.com. Corporate information published in accordance with the requirements of AIM Rule 26 is available from this website.

Link to release

Related:

Notice of Annual General Meeting, 9 DecemberPetro Matad, November 10

Back to Headlines

Wolf Petroleum: Completion of the Issue of Phase 3 Shares and Options to SAM Group

November 11 -- Wolf Petroleum Limited ('the Company') is pleased to announce the receipt of approximately $2.44 million from China SAM Enterprise Group Co Ltd ('SAM Group') and the completion of the issue of the Phase 3 Shares and Options to SAM Group as approved by shareholders at the general meeting held on 19 October 2016. The Company has now issued a total of 319,036,042 shares to SAM Group for a total of approximately $3.19 million. SAM Group now holds 50.94% of the shares of the Company.

Link to release

Appendix 3B

Back to Headlines

Haranga: Pro-Rata Non-Renounceable Entitlement Issue – Despatch of Offer Documents

November 11 -- As announced to ASX on 2 November 2016, Haranga Resources Limited ('Haranga' or 'the Company') is undertaking a pro-rata non-renounceable entitlement issue of approximately 149,388,110 Shares to its shareholders who are registered as shareholders at 5pm (WST) on 8 November 2016 ('Record Date') to raise up to $448,165 ('Entitlement Issue').

Haranga will issue approximately 149,388,110 fully paid ordinary shares on the basis of one (1) new Share for every three (3) Shares held as at the Record Date under the Entitlement Issue ('Offer'). The shares offered under the Entitlement Issue will rank equally with the shares on issue at the date of the Prospectus.

The Company advises that the Prospectus and Entitlement and Acceptance forms which relate to the Entitlement Issue have today been posted to all eligible shareholders.

Should you have any queries in relation to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact the Company on (+61 8) 9200 4415.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Entrée Gold Comments on Recent Trading Activity

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Nov. 7, 2016) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG)(NYSE MKT:EGI)(FRANKFURT:EKA) ("Entrée" or the "Company") wishes to comment on the high level of trading activity that occurred on November 4, 2016. Entrée is aware, through public filings available on Edgar, that one of its institutional shareholders has been reducing its position in Entrée over the last approximately 10-month period. Entrée believes, but is unable to confirm due to privacy laws, that the high volume was as a result of the sale of the balance of this shareholder's position. Certain directors and officers of Entrée acquired an aggregate 763,000 shares on the market on November 4 in an effort to assist with removal of this overhang.

Stephen Scott, President and CEO of Entrée stated, "We are very pleased to see what we believe is the conclusion of selling from this particular shareholder. Public filings indicate that this shareholder also exited other equity positions related to the Oyu Tolgoi project, but over a much shorter timeframe. We are hopeful that with the overhang removed, Entrée's share price will start to align itself more with the value of the Company's assets."

Entrée is not aware of any other specific factors, other than information previously disclosed in its public filings, news releases or statements, which would result in the levels of trading activity and change in the share price recorded in recent days.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Eumeralla: Results of Annual General Meeting held on 11 November 2016

November 11 -- The Annual General Meeting of Eumeralla Resources Limited was held today at 9.30 am WST at

Level 6, 105 St Georges Terrace, Perth, Western Australia.

In accordance with ASX Listing Rule 3.13.2 and section 251AA(2) of the Corporation Act 2001,

details of the resolutions and the proxies received in respect of each resolution are set out in the

summary below.

All resolutions were passed on a show of hands.

 

For

Against

Abstain

Resolution 1 – Adoption of Remuneration Report

21,331,167

-

-

Resolution 2 – Re-Election of Director – Mr David Wheeler

26,297,954

6,000,001

-

Resolution 3 – Election of Director – Ms Nicole Fernandes

32,297,955

-

-

Resolution 4 – Approval of 10% Placement Capacity

32,297,955

-

-

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Prophecy Coal: Corporate Update and Early Warning Report

Vancouver, British Columbia, November 3 (FSCwire) - Prophecy Development Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCYOTC:PRPCDFrankfurt:1P2) is pleased to provide the following corporate update:

Chandgana Coal-Fired Mine-Mouth Power Plant Project (Mongolia):

On December 18, 2015, the Company signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction ("EPC") Agreement, Equity Investment Agreement, and Share Purchase Agreement with the China-based, Power Construction Company to invest in, and build the Company's 600 MW Chandgana power plant (the "Chandgana Power Plant") in Mongolia. Since then, Mongolia held a nationwide parliamentary election in June, which resulted in a new prime minister being elected and a new cabinet. The new government convened its first fall session in September. Prophecy has submitted its development and investment proposal for the Chandgana Power Plant to the Mongolian Energy Ministry in September and since then, has held several high-level meetings with relevant authorities to expedite negotiations for project concession and power purchase agreements.

The Chandgana Power Plant is strategically located in Khentii province, 150km east of Baganuur, to provide power to Mongolia's Eastern Energy Grid and Central Energy Grid, both of which, are experiencing critical power shortages which require them to resort to the importation of power from Russia and China. The Chandgana Power Plant will be a coal-fired mine-mouth power plant where coal will be supplied from the adjacent open pit coal mine owned by Prophecy's wholly-owned Mongolian subsidiary Chandgana Coal LLC.

Prophecy continues to engage in discussions with large-scale Asian strategic power producers who have expressed interest in investing in the Chandgana Power Plant.  With a new, stable government in place for the next four years and the government's mandate to attract foreign investment and the Company's continued commitment to the project, it is optimistic that material progress can be made in 2017. 

Please refer to the Company's news release dated December 18, 2015 and filed on SEDAR or posted on the Company's website for further information on, and a summary of the project.

Ulaan Ovoo Thermal Coal Project (Mongolia):

The Ulaan Ovoo coal project ("Ulaan Ovoo") is located in northern Mongolia, 17km from the Zelter border to Russia by dirt road, and 120km from Mongolia's Sukhbaatar railway station by road with moderate traffic. The mine has been on standby since 2014. 

During 2012 to 2015, Prophecy successfully delivered approximately 500,000 tonnes of Ulaan Ovoo coal to 28 Mongolian and Russian customers, with a track record of timely delivery and meeting or exceeding the required coal quality specifications. 

Prophecy received a mining permit for Ulaan Ovoo in 2011, and has invested approximately $60 million into the project since then. The coal is marketed specifically to power plants, heat/boiler plants, cement factories, metallurgical plants, direct reduced iron plants, and railway companies. Ulaan Ovoo coal (5,000 kcal/kg GCV, < 1% Sulphur, < 8% Ash, < 3% rock) is well-suited for all of these customers' applications. 

Mongolia's government supports the re-opening of the Zelter border (currently closed due to low traffic) and in 2016, approved a budget to start paved road construction between Shaamar (next to Sukhbaatar) to Tushig (next to Ulaan Ovoo) to the Zelter border in 2017.

Opening of the Zelter border and establishment of a paved road from Ulaan Ovoo to both the Zelter border and Sukhbaatar rail spur would reduce the Company's transportation costs to the Russian market (and by extension, to the Asian seaborne market) and domestic Mongolian market, and improve Ulaan Ovoo's competitiveness.

The benchmark thermal coal price (Australian thermal coal, 12,000 Btu/lb, FOB Newcastle) has nearly doubled to date in 2016, to over US$100/tonne from US$53/tonne in January.  If this trend persists into 2017, Prophecy intends to survey potential customers with a view to possibly restarting Ulaan Ovoo in 2017. 

Please refer to the Company's news releases dated January 12, 2015 and September 14, 2014 and filed on SEDAR or posted on the Company's website for prior Ulaan Ovoo progress updates.

Pulacayo Silver-Zinc-Lead Project (Bolivia):

Early Warning Report

The Company also announces that John Lee, of Suite 1301, 12 Harcourt Road, Central, Hong Kong, Executive Chairman of the Company, acquired 11,900 shares of Prophecy (the "Acquisition") through trading in the secondary market (i.e. the Toronto Stock Exchange) today.     

Prior to the Acquisition, Mr. Lee beneficially owned 1,070,953 shares, representing approximately 22.50% 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 1,082,853 shares representing an interest of approximately 22.75% of the Company's currently issued and outstanding shares, and 34.54% 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.

Link to release

Related:

Prophecy Meets Bolivian Minister of Mining and Metallurgy and Early Warning ReportProphecy Development Corp., November 9

Back to Headlines

Prophecy Chairman Acquires 5,000 Shares On-Market

Vancouver, British Columbia, November 9 (FSCwire) - Prophecy Development Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCYOTC:PRPCDFrankfurt:1P2) announces that John Lee, of Suite 1301, 12 Harcourt Road, Central, Hong Kong, Executive Chairman of the Company, acquired 5,000 shares of Prophecy (the "Acquisition") through trading in the secondary market (i.e. the Toronto Stock Exchange) today. 

Prior to the Acquisition, Mr. Lee beneficially owned 1,082,853 shares, representing approximately 22.75% 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 1,087,853 shares representing an interest of approximately 22.85% of the Company's currently issued and outstanding shares, and 34.62% 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. 

The information contained in this news release has been provided by Mr. Lee and the Company is not responsible for its accuracy.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Centerra Gold Revises 2016 Guidance Favourably and Reports Third Quarter Results

To view Management's Discussion and Analysis and the Unaudited Interim Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2016, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/CG1107-mdafs.pdf

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - November 07, 2016) - Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX: CG) today reported net earnings of $66.9 million or $0.28 per common share (basic) in the third quarter of 2016, compared to a net loss of $18.1 million or $0.08 per common share (basic) for the same period in 2015. This reflects the processing of higher grade material from cut-back 17 at Kumtor, 19% higher average realized gold price1 in the period and an inventory impairment reversal of $15.4 million ($0.06 per share), while the comparative period in 2015 included a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $18.7 million ($0.08 per share).

For the first nine months of 2016, the Company recorded net earnings of $87.9 million or $0.36 per common share (basic), compared to a net earnings of $44.5 million or $0.19 per common share (basic) in the comparative period of 2015. This reflects the reversal of an inventory impairment of $27.2 million ($0.11 per share) and 34% lower corporate administration costs in the first nine months of 2016 and the recording of an $18.7 million ($0.08 per share) non-cash goodwill impairment in the comparative period.

Centerra's third quarter results described in this news release do not include financial and operation data from Thompson Creek Metals Company Inc., which was acquired on October 20, 2016.

2016 Third Quarter Highlights

Gatsuurt Project

The Company continued to engage in discussions with the Mongolian Government regarding the definitive agreements relating to the Gatsuurt Project, during the quarter. During the quarter, the Company continued drilling on the property and carrying out resource definition, metallurgical, exploration, geo-technical and hydrogeological drilling in support of eventual project development. See "Other Corporate Developments - Mongolia".

Mongolia

Gatsuurt

During the third quarter exploration drilling was completed in four areas at the Gatsuurt Project, the Northeast extension of Central Zone to GT-60, South Slope in an area northeast and upslope from the Central Zone ultimate pit limit, the southwest extension of Main Zone and the 49 Zone: Highlights of such drilling include

  • Exploration drilling - 31 drill holes for 4,241 metres.
  • Ten geotechnical drill holes sampled and assayed, drilled in prior quarter.
  • Nine metallurgical drill holes sampled and assayed, drilled in prior quarter.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Khan Announces Results of Special Meeting of Shareholders, Declares Distribution of CDN$0.85

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 10, 2016) - Khan Resources Inc. ("Khan" or the "Company") (CSE:KRI) is pleased to announce that the shareholders of Khan have approved the special resolution for the voluntary liquidation and dissolution of Khan. The special resolution was approved by 99.95% of the shares voted in person or represented by proxy at the special meeting.

Pursuant to the winding up, Khan will make an initial distribution of CDN$0.85 per share by way of a return of capital, to be paid November 29, 2016 to shareholders of record at November 22, 2016. The shares will trade ex-distribution on November 18, 2016.

Any further distribution of cash will be made in one or more instalments following receipt of funds pursuant to the liquidation of the remaining assets of Khan and the winding up of its remaining subsidiary, and the satisfaction of all liabilities, including expenses of the winding up, on a distribution date to be determined pursuant to the plan of liquidation and dissolution. As previously disclosed, Khan anticipates that any further distributions of cash as part of the winding up would aggregate between CDN$0.01 and $0.08.

Full details of the winding up and certain other matters are set out in the management information circular of Khan dated October 5, 2016. A copy of the circular and other meeting materials can be found on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Government to host a roundtable discussion with foreign investment partners

November 13 (UB Post) The roundtable discussion "Why should investors pay attention to Mongolia?" will be organized by the Government of Mongolia, Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia, and Erdenes Mongol LLC on November 25, at Hall B of the Government Palace.

Over 40 participants will take part in the round-table discussion. The key participants will be representatives from the government, foreign embassies and consulates, international banks and financial institutions, the nation's top mining companies, and business councils and representatives.

The main topics of discussion will be:

• Investment sentiment and landscape: obstacles, opportunities, and considerations

• Political stability and structural reforms: integrated policy, attractive taxation, and the legal environment for foreign investment

• Government support for commercially viable mega projects in mining, infrastructure, and energy

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Local Market

MSE Weekly Trading Report: Top 20 -2.07%, ALL -1.67%, Turnover 67.5 Million Shares, 8.8 Billion T-Bills

November 11 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Link to report

Back to Headlines

GoM Offering ₮20 Billion 28-Week T-Bills at 16.89% Discount on MSE

November 11 (MSE) Buy order of 28 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 16.890% starts from 11 November 2016 until 15 November 2016 through brokerage companies.

Click here to see detailed information of 28 weeks Government bonds.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Tavantolgoi JSC Board Announces Shareholders' Meeting to Elect Board Members on December 7

November 3 (MSE) According to the Resolution No.:06 of Board of Directors meeting of "Tavantolgoi" JSC dated on 28 October 2016, the next shareholders meeting scheduled on 07 December 2016 at 14:00pm.

Registration date:                  18 November 2016

Venue:                                    Meeting room of "Tavantolgoi" JSC, Tsagaan Ovoo bag, Tsogttsetsee sum, Umnugovi aimar

Issues will be discussed:      To nominate BoD's members

Link to release

Back to Headlines

GoM sells 10 billion 52-week t-bills at 16.995% discount via MSE

November 8 (MSE) On 08 November 2016, 52 weeks Government bonds /16.995% annual coupon rate/ worth  MNT10.0 billion traded at Mongolian Stock Exchange.

Bellow member brokerage companies participated in bonds trading as follows:

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Darkhan Hotel JSC Board Approves 100-for-1 stock Split

November 9 (MSE) According to the Clause No.:51 of Company Law of Mongolia, Listing Rule of MSE, the Resolution of "Darkhan Hotel" JSC's Board of Directors meeting dated 29 October 2016 and the Order No.:405 of CEO of MSE dated 09 November 2016, the listing amendment made to "Darkhan Hotel" JSC.

"Darkhan Hotel" JSC conducted stock split for 100 for 1 on its total of 89,453 shares at MNT100.0 per share changed to 8,945,300 shares at MNT1.00 per share.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Economy

Mongolian Officials Back IMF Program Amid Widening Budget Gap

By Michael Kohn

·         IMF help would ease financial crisis ahead of debt repayments

·         Economic Stablization Plan could be passed end of November

November 8 (Bloomberg) With the currency hitting record lows and the budget deficit worsening, senior Mongolian officials said they support an assistance program from the International Monetary Fund.

Foreign Minister Munkh-Orgil Tsend said he was confident an agreement with the IMF would be in place by February. Khayankhyarvaa Damdin, chairman of the ruling party's parliamentary caucus, said at press conference on Monday that "Mongolia should enter the IMF program. In fact, we are losing time on this process.''

Mongolia is facing a financial crisis caused by a collapse in commodity prices, mounting debt and years of off-budget spending. Since coming to power in June, the Mongolian People's Party has announced an economic reform plan containing spending cuts, and asked the IMF's help.

In its first 100 days in office, the government cut spending, brought off-budget expenses into a single consolidated budget and conducted a probe into money owed to private and foreign companies. Munkh-Orgil doesn't expect to see a balanced budget until 2020, "Until then we are aiming to cut the budget deficit slowly but steadily,'' he said in Ulaanbaatar on Monday. 

"Priority number one was getting the fiscal house in order,'' Munkh-Orgil said. "Now we know exactly whom we owe to and how much.''

Due Debts

The nation has to repay more than $1 billion in debt by January 2018foreign exchange reserves were at the lowest since 2009 at the end of September, and the tugrik dropped to an all-time low of 2411 to the dollar on Tuesday, a 17 percent decline this year.

The IMF "held very productive discussions with the Mongolian authorities'' on policies that could become part of an IMF-supported economic and financial program, the fund said last week after two weeks of talks.

The economic plan is under review by parliament, with the government saying it will return the budget to surplus, boost foreign reserves and increase investment. "I think parliament would want to make some changes but it is in agreement with the general thrust of the proposal,'' said Munkh-Orgil, adding that he expects parliament to accept the plan by the end of this month.

An IMF program could then be finalized in January for February, he said. That would ease financial concerns ahead of the March maturity of the Development Bank of Mongolia's $580 million bond.

While passage of the plan is not a prerequisite to an IMF program, it would be a "good complementary measure" said Munkh-Orgil. "The IMF representatives think this is an excellent plan. They are in full agreement with basically every line."

Signing up to an IMF plan would not shut the door to receiving financial aid from bilateral donors, Munkh-Orgil added.

The IMF "will welcome contributions and assistance from bilateral donors, as long as they are within the policy framework agreed by Mongolia and IMF," he said. "That gives us confidence that both the international community and Mongolia can agree on the program."

Link to article

Link to IMF statement

Related:

Mongolia, IMF Close to Agreeing Loan DealTransitions Online, November 9

Speaker M.Enkhbold welcomes IMF teamMontsame, November 7

IMF reviews its study of Mongolian economics with Speaker M.Enkhbold UB Post, November 6

Back to Headlines

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

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, November 11 Close

 

11/11

11/10

11/9

11/8

11/7

11/4

11/3

11/2

11/2

11/1

High

Date

USD

2,452.98

2,453.39

2,428.08

2,420.95

2,413.08

2,406.41

2,396.13

2,388.45

2,388.45

2,381.65

2,453.39

11/10/2016

EUR

2,674.61

2,681.43

2,699.54

2,676.48

2,668.87

2,670.39

2,664.86

2,645.09

2,645.09

2,616.24

2,681.43

11/10/2016

JPY

22.97

23.23

23.49

23.18

23.10

23.31

23.34

23.04

23.04

22.68

23.49

11/9/2016

GBP

3,083.03

3,050.91

3,011.06

3,008.64

2,994.15

3,000.07

2,959.82

2,930.51

2,930.51

2,921.93

3,183.26

8/13/2014

RUB

37.58

38.73

38.06

37.98

37.75

37.71

37.73

37.69

37.69

37.70

54.32

6/27/2014

CNY

359.93

361.23

358.50

357.22

356.16

355.89

354.49

353.10

353.10

351.50

361.23

11/10/2016

KRW

2.10

2.13

2.12

2.13

2.11

2.10

2.10

2.08

2.08

2.09

2.13

11/8/2016

SGD

1,739.27

1,752.48

1,746.32

1,741.75

1,736.22

1,736.67

1,731.87

1,720.66

1,720.66

1,713.17

1,752.48

11/10/2016

CAD

1,817.49

1,832.67

1,816.20

1,811.88

1,802.35

1,794.29

1,793.24

1,785.89

1,785.89

1,778.28

1,832.67

11/10/2016

AUD

1,862.79

1,886.29

1,864.77

1,865.83

1,854.21

1,846.56

1,838.91

1,823.58

1,823.58

1,825.65

1,886.29

11/10/2016

HKD

316.19

316.37

313.14

312.16

311.12

310.28

308.97

307.97

307.97

307.12

316.37

11/10/2016

CHF

2,488.06

2,492.52

2,497.77

2,484.68

2,468.62

2,469.00

2,468.58

2,458.26

2,458.26

2,411.31

2,497.77

11/9/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,380 Sell ₮2,392), TDB (Buy ₮2,380 Sell ₮2,394), Golomt (Buy ₮2,380 Sell ₮2,392), XacBank (Buy ₮2,383 Sell ₮2,397), State Bank (Buy ₮2,380 Sell ₮2,394)

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

Link to rates

Back to Headlines

BoM sells US$72.4m at 2,450, CNY73m at 358.23 in irregular auction

November 11 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: The BoM hold irregular auction and received bid offers of MNT 2450.00-2490.00 for USD72.4 million and MNT 358.23-364.00 for CNY73.0 million respectively. The BoM accepted bid offers of USD in a closing rate of MNT 2450.00 and CNY in a closing rate of MNT 358.23.

Back to Headlines

BoM declines bids for US$71.2m, CNY123m and $4m MNT swap offers

November 10 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid MNT 2425.00-2481.55 for USD71.2 million and MNT 356.50-362.61 for CNY123.0 million respectively. The BoM did not accept any bid offers.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM received bid offers of USD4.0 million of MNT swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM did not accept any bid offers.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

BoM issues 123.35 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -17.7% to ₮466.35 billion

November 11 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 123.35 billion at a weighted interest rate of 15.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

Back to Headlines

GoM sells 145 billion 12-week t-bills at 16.848% discount from announced 150 billion

November 9 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 150.0 billion MNT. Face value of 145.0 billion /out of 145.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.848%.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

GoM sells 5 billion 39-week t-bills at 16.99% discount from announced 40 billion

November 9 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 39 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 40.0 billion MNT. Face value of 5.0 billion /out of 5.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.990%.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

GoM sells 5 billion 52-week t-bills at 17% discount from announced 40 billion

November 9 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 52 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 40.0 billion MNT. Face value of 5.0 billion /out of 5.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 17.000%.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

BoM buys 2.2 tons of gold in October, 15.9 tons YTD, +23.6% from 2015

November 2016 (BoM) --

Date

Month

Year-to-Date

YoY Change

2016/10

2,174.2

15,913.5

3,042.8

2016/09

2,071.4

13,739.3

3,542.6

2016/08

3,027.5

11,668.0

4,264.8

2016/07

2,167.6

8,640.4

3,231.1

2016/06

2,015.0

6,472.8

2,711.1

2016/05

1,769.4

4,457.7

2,040.1

2016/04

826.2

2,688.4

1,166.2

2016/03

679.5

1,862.1

876.6

2016/02

538.4

1,182.6

484.1

2016/01

644.1

644.1

419.8

2015/12

694.7

15,084.0

2,379.3

2015/11

1,518.4

14,389.2

2,605.4

2015/10

2,674.0

12,870.7

2,137.4

Link to data (in Mongolian)

Back to Headlines

BoM Mortgage Loan Report, September 2016

November 3 (Bank of Mongolia) --

BRIEF:

·         For the reporting month, mortgage loan was issued to 850 borrowers and the total number of borrowers reaching 87925.

·         The total outstanding mortgage loan reaching MNT 3943.0 billion, of which 3,047.6 billion was issued by the "Housing Mortgage Program".

·         The amount of mortgage loan issued in the reporting month has decreased by 32.6 percent from the previous month.

·         The amount of mortgage loan repaid in the reporting month has decreased by 22.9 percent from the previous month.

·         The weighted average interest rate of issued mortgage loan stood at 8.7 percent.

·         The weighted average maturity of outstanding mortgage loan is 19.7 years.

·         The amount of issued loan per borrower has reached MNT 59.9 million by the end of the reporting month.

·         The share of nonperforming loan in total outstanding mortgage loan was 1.1 percent,past due in arrears loan was 2.3 percent.

1. Total outstanding mortgage loan

In end of the reporting month, year-on-year growth rate of total mortgage loan outstanding decreased by 0.4 percentage points from the previous month, by 8.0 percentage points from the same period of previous year.

Among the outstanding mortgage loan, 77.3 percent or MNT 3047.6 billion was issued by the "Housing Mortgage Program" (including refinanced mortgage loan with reduced interest rate of 5 percent, 8 percent per annum and refinanced from 8% to 5%), 20.3 percent or MNT 798.7 billion was financed by commercial banks' own capital and 2.5 percent or MNT 96.8 billion was issued from other sources.

By the end of the reporting month, mortgage loan in domestic currency made up 99.0 percent of the total outstanding mortgage loan.

The share of nonperforming loan in total outstanding mortgage loan is gradually increased. By the end of September 2016, the share of nonperforming loan in total outstanding mortgage loan was 1.1 percent. The share of past due in arrears loan has decreased by 1.0 percentage point from the previous month reaching 2.3 percent.

2. Mortgage loan issued in the reporting month

The amount of mortgage loan issued in the reporting month has decreased by 32.6 percent from the previous month, by 35.0 percent from the same period of previous year.

Majority of the mortgage loan issued in the reporting month (MNT 35.0 billion, which made up 68.8 percent) was issued by the "Housing Mortgage Program" with an interest rate of 5 percent and 8 percent per annum, 31.2 percent or MNT 15.9 billion was financed by commercial banks' own capital.

The amount of issued loan per borrower has reached MNT 59.9 million by the end of September 2016.

In the reporting month, MNT 31.6 billion mortgage loan has been repaid, which is 22.6 percent higher compared to the same period of previous year.

3. Number of borrowers

In the reporting month, mortgage loan by the "Housing Mortgage Program" was issued to 537 borrowers, mortgage loan from commercial banks' own capital was issued to 313 borrowers.

By the end of September 2016, the total number of borrowers has reached 87925.

 

4. Maturity of mortgage loan

In the reporting month the maturity of mortgage loan issued in the reporting month ranges between 0.3 to 30 years and has the weighted average maturity of 19.7 years. The weighted average maturity of total outstanding mortgage loan is 16.5 years.

In the reporting month 38.9 percent of the mortgage loan issued for 16-20 years.

5. Interest rate of mortgage loan

The weighted average interest rate of issued mortgage loan stood at 8.7 percent. The weighted average interest rate of mortgage loan issued in the reporting month by commercial banks' own capital stood at 13.0 percent per annum.

Link to report

Back to Headlines

BoM instates new mortgage rules 

November 8 (Mongolian Economy) According to a decree issued by the President of the Bank of Mongolia (BoM) on October 25, mortgage lending rules were amended, and the five percent interest mortgage loan programme has been suspended along with annulment of provisions which indicated certain locations allowing the programme.

Most mortgage qualification criteria stayed the same, such as up to a 30 year term, no less than 30 percent as down payment and no more than 80 square metres for an apartment. However, the new rules say that only completed and commissioned construction projects can be included in mortgage loans.

In addition, commercial banks must finance mortgage loans from their own funds initially in order to be reimbursed by the BoM. Specifically, the central bank will inform each bank about a month's maximum amount of funding for mortgage lending, and then the banks must make their lending decisions in accordance with the information. As for borrowers, they must not have taken out any other preferential loans in order to qualify for a mortgage, because there were many cases in which high-income individuals took advantage of the programme by buying up several apartments with eight percent interest mortgages.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolbank taking all possible measures to stabilize currency rate

Ulaanbaatar, November 11 (MONTSAME) The Mongolian national currency rate against USD has been plummeting for the past days. By 93 Tugrugs in 17 days, as of November 10, to be exact. The Bank of Mongolia is considering this decline as temporary. The central bank stated that it will take all possible measures to stabilize the rapid fluctuation of currency rate on November 11.

Mongolia's international deals and agreements with the international financial organizations and donors are being settled in the approximate future, shedding light on the country's finance.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Tugrik plunge is temporary according to officials of Bank of Mongolia

November 11 (gogo.mn) Tugrik has depreciated sharply against the foreign currencies in recent days. In this regard, Bank of Mongolia (BoM) held press session today. 

Officials of BoM said Tugrik deflation is temporary, adding that the financial problems will be solved in the near future.

Moreover, they highlighted "The Government of Mongolia will hold effective negotiations with the international organizations and investors soon. Bank of Mongolia will take all necessary measures to temper sharp fluctuations in the exchange rate".

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia to receive 7.4 trillion loans in 2017 says OSF

November 7 (gogo.mn) Mongolia expects to receive MNT 7 trillion 431.8 billion loan in 2017. Of which MNT 723.1 billion will be project loan and remaining loan will be funded by both domestic and foreign bonds. Next year, 111 projects has planned to be implemented by foreign loans and aids. 

Of which 24 percent of the projects will be implemented in infrastructure sector. In other words, 49 percent of the foreign loan will be funded to infrastructure sector.

The Government of China and its affiliated organizations to grant the most of loans and the remaining amount of loans and aids will be provided by Japan, Asian Development Bank, World Bank and South Korea. However, 51 percent of loans, to be received from China will be granted by Exim bank, highlighted by Open society forum.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongol Bank projects 2-4% GDP grown and 3-5% inflation for 2017

November 11 (UB Post) Mongol Bank recently released its 2017 inflation report, estimating a two to four percent increase in GDP and a three to five percent inflation rate.

The two to four percent increase is lower than the estimate provided in an earlier report from the central bank. According to Mongol Bank, the new figures can be attributed to the slow resurgence of the mining sector and delayed investment in the development of Oyu Tolgoi's underground mine.

Decreased household consumption and an increase in the central bank's policy interest rate also contributed to lower projected GDP growth. The report highlighted that growth prospects in 2016 remain weak, with mild recovery predicted in 2017.

The report suggests that inflation in the price of food products will continue to decrease until the latter half of 2017. The decline in the inflation rate for food products was primarily attributed to lower prices for meat and vegetables. According to the report, overall inflation rates will be stable as product demand in 2017 is expected to drop.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mogi: duh!

BoM governor: "Mongolia should draw more direct foreign investment"

Ulaanbaatar, November 8 (MONTSAME) A reporter from shuud.mn news website clarified some issues regarding the monetary policy for the next year from the Governor of the Bank of Mongolia, Mr N.Bayartsaikhan.

How well do you think the government budget and the monetary policy for 2017 are coordinated?

The budgetary and monetary policies are well cohered for the coming year. We have worked together on its development. The Financial Stability Council comprises the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Bank of Mongolia and the Chairman of the Financial Regulatory Commission. The council has deliberately elaborated the monetary policy.

What suggestions and recommendations have the recent International Monetary Fund mission given?

The IMF mission team has left Mongolia this week. This is not a working group to finalize an agreement. They have arrived here to learn the current economic conditions and to compile necessary information. We have collaborated with the team by all possible means and provided the required information. The mission team should report on their work to the IMF Board. If the board consents working with the Government of Mongolia, the IMF will send an agreement working group. We expect the team to arrive in early December. In case the IMF approves our joint draft, the arrangement would be launched as early as possible in 2017.

What measures will be undertaken to stabilize the growing foreign exchange rate?

The increase of foreign exchange rate against Mongolian Tugrug is one the main concerns. The MPP (Mongolian People's Party) faction in the parliament is addressing this issues. Foreign currency reserves need to be increased in order to stabilize the currency rate. For this, Mongolia should draw more direct foreign investment and cope with the problems that constitute a barrier for investments. Foreign currency flow will also increase as the country encourages exports. On the other hand, the national currency depreciation leads to slowing down imports while activating exports.  A long-term and low-interest foreign currencies are indispensable. The central bank is planning to enlarge the reserves through mobilizing these approaches. The rate cannot be mastered under a tough regulation. The economy is facing difficulties. National currency was printed out in huge amount in the recent years which went into market circulation.

Is it possible to reduce the foreign exchange rate?

It is impossible to promise anything at this moment. The MPP faction in the parliament have agreed on working towards intensifying the foreign currency flow in to the national economy. It is crucial to find out fast and effective approach to make sure our decision happen.

Link to interview

Back to Headlines

BoM launches Statistical Database menu on website

November 8 (Bank of Mongolia) The Bank of Mongolia is responsible for collecting, consolidating and disseminating monetaryfinancial and external sector statistics on monthly and quarterly basis. 

We are working to improve quality of statistics by expanding the coverage, adopting international methodologies and standards, and improving data dissemination.

In this regard, we have created Statistical Database menu on web page of the Bank of Mongolia.

The Database allows users to download time series data and descriptions of  monetary, financial and external sector statistical indicators in MS Excel format.

Please visit the Database via following link: https://www.mongolbank.mn/eng/dbliststatistic.aspx

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Mongolian economist shares his solution to economic challenges

November 8 (UB Post) Economist and researcher M.Chimeddorj gave a lengthy interview on timely social and economic matters, including solutions for stimulating the economy, the state budget, and more.

The Mongolian state budget and financial situation is in a dire state. As an expert, what do you think the main cause of the current economic difficulty is?

Our nation doesn't have a general social and economic policy. We only think about ways to cope today and tomorrow. On top of that, a sudden increase in wealth has made us stuck-up and arrogant. In short, all these things are at the root of the current politicized economy and irresponsible budgeting. An economy that is heavily centralized on minerals and raw materials have led to inefficient state budget, momentary economic growth, purposeless government loans, and above all, bad economy.

Aside from the fact that the state budget is being approved with a deficit, Mongolia will have to repay its national debt in two months. Politicians are looking at the Stand-By Arrangement and Chinese lenders to find ways out of economic difficulty. What would you recommend for recovering the economy?

There is a saying: After eating too much, one must fast on the day after. We must tighten our belts, develop an appropriate economic policy and improve governance. Mongolia must urgently shift to a frugal mode. The International Monetary Fund's Stand-By Arrangement will assist in this. Implementing this program will improve state budget discipline and fix errors in the macroeconomic policy, which we weren't able to do. Taking a long-term loan from China with a low interest, on the other hand, will indicate that we still haven't realized our strategic error and that we can't manage our finances properly. This will eradicate all credibility and plunge the value of bonds the government released internationally. In other words, taking a loan from China is not an act that will rectify previous mistakes but an attempt to conceal the error with funds with political agenda.

Should Mongolia utilize the Stand-By Arrangement? Some economists fear that Mongolia will get into the same situation as Kazakhstan if the government gets a loan from China. Can you comment on this?

Right at this moment, the monetary policy interest rate of the Central Bank is at its highest point, 15 percent. Improving budget discipline will make it possible to overcome the current economic difficulty. We must also acknowledge that we need certain amount of financial assistance and guarantee. I believe that the International Monetary Fund can help in this matter. Like I said before, a Chinese loan will only lead Mongolia away from chances for fixing its problems. Programs and projects to be implemented with Chinese loans and participation from Chinese companies require that Mongolia use Chinese workforce and buy their materials. I fear that these requirements will eventually lead to political lobbying to open a Chinese bank in Mongolia. This also applies to the project to build a railway from Tavan Tolgoi mine, which urges the increase of Chinese involvement.

Overall, the government's loans are present more and more risks to the nation. The first sovereign bond was named Chinggis and the second bond from Japan was named Sakura. If we were to name the bond that is to be sold in China by its risk factor, it would be named "Gamin" bond.

Mongolia's welfare and pension funds are nearly empty now. During the peak of the economic growth in 2011, many initiated to establish a Wealth Fund to shoulder potential risks but it wasn't carried out. What must Mongolians do to establish this kind of a risk reduction fund?

Countries with mineral-based economies advance to their next development stage by creating an accumulation of their key mineral. These countries which are based on mineral resources rather than human involvement have low control of their state budgets. In other words, because the budget expansion doesn't require the government to directly increase taxes, it isn't dependent on the public. This exact situation led many countries to go bankrupt. Looking at practices of successful countries dependent on mineral resources, they were able to benefit from world-class corporations by maintaining budget discipline, centralizing state revenues to specific foundations, investing in local businesses and expanding the private sector, and using any remaining money to invest in foreign businesses. After becoming more economically stable, they further developed a certain sector through the cluster mode and were able to strengthen their place in the global market.

As for welfare funds, Mongolia established the Human Development Fund, a political populism fund, and distributed cash to the public when Mongolia's economy rapidly grew in 2011. The government took a loan from Aluminum Corporation of China Limited with the aim to distribute money to the public, which was promised during the 2012 election campaign, through the Human Development Fund. To this day, this loan hasn't been repaid due to coal price drops.

The pension fund is in an even worse situation. The money, previously accumulated in the Social Insurance Fund, was projected into the state budget and completely spent. In other words, we haven't got savings right now. According to the World Bank's estimation, the Pension Insurance Fund is expected to face a deficit equal to seven percent of the GDP by 2030. This is partially connected to low birth rate, increasing average life expectancy, and increasing population age. Currently, four out of 10 employed people have reached pension age. By 2040, this index is expected to double, with eight out of 10 employed people expected to reach pension age.

An independent fund needs to be established within a short period and the government needs to repay the amassed debt. Moreover, Mongolia needs to set up a mechanism that urges the government to pay insurance money of students and herders, whose insurances are provided by the state, on time and increase labor age to ensure regular income to the fund and invest correspondingly with the Health Insurance Fund.

Lately, there have been countless discussions about opening foreign banks in Mongolia. Most people view that opening a foreign bank could lower loan interest rates but also pose a threat to the national security. What is the main leverage for lowering bank interest rates?

The banking sector makes up 94 percent of our financial market. It's impossible to lower loan interest rates within a short period of time because savings interest rate is too high. Local banks aren't capable enough to compete against foreign banks. The time to reform the financial sector has come. Above all, the stock market needs to be expanded and inoperative commercial banks need to be activated by separating the Social Insurance Fund from the state budget and creating accumulation in a Wealth Fund. Another thing that banks need to do is to increase their capital by raising their stock price. This way, the stock market will intensify and commercial banks will enhance their competitiveness. As a result, the loan interest rate will decrease and provide favorable conditions for opening a foreign bank in Mongolia. Unless these conditions have been met, Mongolia could face the potential risk of losing its financial sector to foreign banks.

What can Mongolia do to reduce poverty and expand the middle class, as well as help people advance to a higher social class? These types of talks were covered during the election.

Increasing the middle class isn't something that can be done with a mere election promise. This issue can only be settled by enhancing the wealth distribution system and promoting public involvement. Basically, efforts should be focused on increasing wages, establishing stock companies that openly report on corporate and GDP yields, increasing Pension Insurance Fund, and ensuring income guarantee for pensioners. A basic mechanism also has to be formed for increasing the economic yield from mineral resources. This is called participatory development. Now, participatory development is viewed worldwide as the foundation for a stable economic growth and development. Therefore, many are attempting to establish a new mechanism for income distribution.

Politics is considered to be the main factor obstructing the economy from developing naturally. State-owned companies are unable to work efficiently due to government involvement. How can the economy be detached from political populism?

Several measures must be taken to depoliticize the economy. Cabinet members should stop sucking up to Members of Parliament and trying to be on their good terms to secure their position. They should work together, not individually. Secondly, at least two thirds of large state-owned companies need to be privatized. It's essential to reform the education and health sectors without jeopardizing its stability.

Link to interview

Back to Headlines

What's in Mongolia's program on overcoming economic difficulties and stabilization

November 9 (gogo.mn) State Great Khural obliged newly formed Government to develop a comprehensive program on overcoming economic difficulties and stabilization. After long time, the program was submitted to the State Great Khural. 

We are introducing you the comprehensive program on overcoming economic difficulties and stabilization. 

Mongolia move to upper middle income status in 2023 and 2014 by its gross national income per capita, according to the World Bank survey. However, the country went down to lower middle income status in 2015 due to the economic slowdown and decrease in Tugrik rate. 

Moreover, prices for the Mongolian major export products in the world market have fallen while foreign direct investment have continuously declined since it has reached its record high in 2011 at 4.7 billion tugrik. 

Mongolian economy is started to driven by commodity prices, bonds and loan sources. Also, the country is facing shortage of savings to overcome upcoming risks, uncompetitive domestic production, economy supporting imports, widespread social care as well as more than 90 percent of the country`s export became dependent on the mining sector.

As a result, macroeconomic balance have lost and real economic growth have slowed down in recent days. In other words, economic growth reached 17.3 percent in 2011 while it has continuously dropped for five years and reached 1.4 percent as of first quarter of 2016, which affects the unemployment rate, decline of the living standards, increase of poverty and debt to GDP ratio. Moreover, number of unemployment as of second quarter of 2016 increased by 36 percent compared to the same period of the previous year, which has become the main cause of collapse of demand in the economy and non-performing loans. 

According to the expected performance, budget deficit seems to reach 4.3 billion tugrik by the end of 2016, projected to increase the Government. At that time, debt will reach levels of 10 percent of GDP. 

Mongolian balance of payments has deficits during 2013-2015. As of Aug 2016, total foreign exchange reserves dropped to US$ 1.3 billion. 

Deficits in both budget balance and balance of payments warn that the economic situation will get worse and the economic crises will deepen, if the country will not take immediate actions to improve the basic macroeconomic balance. 

In addition, if low commodity price continues in the world market, there will be a problem to payback the Government bonds. 

Therefore, the Government of Mongolia has developed a comprehensive program on overcoming economic difficulties and stabilization with the aim to solve the economic difficulties in a short period. 

The program has following two strategies: 

1.    Implement a policy to stabilize macroeconomic 

2.    Ensure sustainable development by making structural change in medium term economy and implement policy to reduce the debt burden 

DECREASE THE IMPORTED MILK PRODUCTS BY INCREASING THE PRODUCTION OF MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS 

1.    Implement actions to stabilize macroeconomic by lowering the budget deficit 2017 compared to the previous year, increasing budget balance in medium term, creating legal environment for specialized asset management institutions and decreasing non-performing loans, 

2.    Implement measures directed at increasing inflows of foreign currency by improving legal environment for foreign investment and establishing foreign investment board

3.    Expand trades with neighboring countries, increase the capacity of transit transportation, create legal environment for operating casino, increase the production of milk and milk products, construct meat and meat processing plant, construct leather processing plant, increase the export revenue of non-mining sector products

4.    Forward strategically important deposits, intensify the projects reflected in program to establish Mongolia-Russia-China economic corridor, intensify energy projects, establish oil and copper concentrate processing plants 

5.    Take measures to improve the legal environment for creating a responsible government 

BENEFITS OF IMPLEMENTING THE PROGRAM 

1.    Stable macroeconomic by improving budget balance and reducing balance of payments burden

2.    Restore foreign investors` trust 

3.    Reduce debt budget 

4.    Increase economic growth by implementing major infrastructure projects 

5.    Diversify the economy by increasing the export revenue of non-mining sector products 

Economic growth expected to reach at 

  • 5.1 percent in 2018,
  • 7.1 percent in 2019. 

Moreover, processing industry expects to rise an average by 6.3 percent in 2017-2019 and it will rise to 10 percent starting 2019. About 20 thousand jobs will be created in the midterm after implementing projects. As a result, unemployment rate will be reduced to 8 percent by the end of 2019. 

As a result of mining and agricultural processing plants as well as projects to be implemented in energy sector, export is projected to increase and reach US$ 5.4 billion in 2019 while import will reach US$ 5.5 billion. 

Foreign direct investment is expected to rise by US$ 2-3 billion in a year.

Total of 10 billion tugrik is required for the implementation of the program.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia parliament approves 2017 budget with 2.4 trillion deficit

Ulaanbaatar, November 11 (MONTSAME) At Thursday's plenary meeting, the State Great Khural (Parliament) adopted essential bills to the country's growth. Firstly, the parliament passed the bills on the Government Budget for 2017 and the Social Insurance Fund Budget for 2017.

The equilibrated revenue of the Government Budget for fiscal year of 2017 is estimated at MNT 4,378,889.9 million and the equilibrate expenditure – MNT 6,759,169.6 million.

The sum of funds for investing in projects and facilities is calculated at MNT 250,654.7 million, the repayment for the "build and transfer" concessions – MNT 71,518.6 million.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolian population reaches 3 million 57 thousand

November 10 (gogo.mn) Mongolia has conducted a regular population and housing census for 10 times since 1918. 

In 2015, Mongolia organized the first midterm census. Today National Statistics Committee introduced the result of the midterm census to the public. 

According to the census, population of Mongolia reached 3 million 57.8 thousand as of Dec 31, 2015, which increased by 2.2 percent or 303.1 thousand people compared to the census occurred in 2010. Number of households totaled 859.1 thousand, which risen by 20.4 compared to the 2010. 

A.Ariunzaya, Head of National Statistics Committee emphasized that the midterm census has following features. 

  • It was the first midterm census conducted between the regular census. 
  • The census was based on the population and household database. 
  • Mongolian citizens living abroad were counted through Internet.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia's energy project paradox

By Jesse Brooks

November 13 (UB Post) In the last 33 years, Mongolia has regained its independence, held its first democratic elections and rapidly raced towards urbanization— and yet, the gas for this engine was left behind. While the country's per capital energy consumption has more than doubled over the past twenty years, a major power plant has not been built since 1983. The reason? There are too many alternatives, too many solutions, and too many energy project proposals currently in consideration.

A perfect storm of energy consumption has culminated in steady growth in demand. The Ministry of Energy estimated demand for energy to have grown seven to 10 percent over the past few years. Family necessity to keep warm amid frigid winters has been coupled with massive booms in the mining and construction sectors.

People have been plugging in more and turning up the heat. Construction and mining companies require more juice for their large machinery. The supply and demand illuminates a very real and pressing need for more domestic energy capacity. But then why, for over 30 years, has the government continued to sit on its hands while over 60 energy projects idly remain in consideration? "There are countless, oft-cited factors impeding major projects," explains William Danforth, an analyst at Mongolia International Capital Corporation—Mongolia's first investment bank. "Ultimately though, the large pipeline actively hampers the development of strategically vital projects."

The energy project pipeline has log jammed and stalled right before any tangible project. Imagine the pipeline as a crowd of impatient fans rushing toward the entrance of a theater, eager to get front row seats, only to bottleneck—blocking anybody from entering. "Yet, considering a large number of projects simultaneously increases the development process's susceptibility to politicization," Danforth points out.

Among the 60 viable project proposals active in the energy sector, many state politicians each have their own pet projects that they want to get funded. Concurrently, the politicians welcome sponsors who all try to exert influence and push their project to the front. Neither the state actors nor the projects can gain enough traction to get off the ground.

The country, simply put, has too many viable solutions to its burgeoning energy problem. And that's the problem. Hence, the country's current energy project paradox. "The annual savings from supplying domestic energy could exceed 60 million and 150 million USD respectively," Danforth estimates. "In total, the theoretical maximum amount of savings could be as high as 2.4 billion USD, with approximately three-quarters of this reduction coming from substituting Chinese energy."

The obvious benefits of a new major power plant underscore current frustration over the pipeline's stagnation. In the 2012 election year, political leaders gifted many citizens a one-time cash payment of roughly 770 USD. In theory, the potential savings from a new major power plant would offset the mounting debt incurred from this brazen financial giveaway.

For the past 30 years, indecision has not only cost the country money, but also geopolitical leverage. Both families and large companies are increasingly draining the domestic energy barrel, forcing the government to import energy from Russia and China. Currently, 20 percent of Mongolia's total annual consumption comes from its domineering neighbors, with percentages poised to rise to almost 32 percent by 2020.

"East Asian markets represent the future for Mongolia's energy industry. Yet the current project pipeline misrepresents Mongolia's priorities, overcompensating for the existing domestic capacity shortage. Mongolia has a bright future as an energy exporter," Danforth says, discretely holding back a smile and looking up, "but it needs to unclog its overcrowded development pipeline."

Central heating is not going to suddenly shut off, nor will children soon be walking home from school in the dark, but the country will continue to sink into electric debt to its bullish neighbors. The light bulb needs to be screwed in, but too many hands are clawing at the lamp.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Copper storms towards biggest weekly gain since 1980 after surprise Trump win

November 11 (Reuters) London copper stretched a week of frenzied gains into Friday, stampeding towards its strongest weekly close since 1980 after Donald Trump's surprise U.S. election victory set off a fierce round of fund buying backed by a view of improving fundamentals.

Gains came amid a widespread rally in steel, coal and iron ore prices after China curbed domestic coal production earlier this year, which has seen prices of the raw material doubling in the past two months.

"It's been building in the past couple of weeks, and Trump has kicked it along in the past few days," said analyst Daniel Hynes of ANZ in Sydney.

Gains came amid a widespread rally in steel, coal and iron ore prices after China curbed domestic coal production earlier this year, which has seen prices of the raw material doubling in the past two months.

"It's been building in the past couple of weeks, and Trump has kicked it along in the past few days," said analyst Daniel Hynes of ANZ in Sydney.

"It's been more a shift around where the market sees demand over the course of 2017."

Trump has said that he plans to fix inner cities and rebuild highways and infrastructure, and hopes for a spending splurge have breathed fresh life into metals and infrastructure. But traders said that was just a spark that fueled the fire.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rallied by 3.6 percent to $5,803 a tonne by 0744 GMT, following a 3.5 percent gain in the previous session. It was on track for a 16.2 percent weekly rise, the biggest such advance since 1980, according to Reuters data. It earlier hit $5,815.50, which was the highest since July 3, 2015.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper built on overnight gains to close up 8.7 percent, amid a buying frenzy by speculators.

Expectations for copper demand have shifted in recent months due to consistently improving economic indicators out of China that has encouraged analysts to revise up demand forecasts.

China's factory activity expanded at its fastest pace in more than two years in October.

"Views on China improved compared with expectations at the start of the year as demand surprised to the upside," Citi said in a research note. "Chinese 2016 demand estimates now range between 5-7 percent compared to 0-3 percent projections at the start of this year."

The country continued to unveil new infrastructure projects. It has approved a total of 85.6 billion yuan ($12.59 billion) for three railway projects.

Other metals were taking stock after solid gains this week when most hit the highest in more than 18 months.

LME nickel jumped 3 percent to $11,910 a tonne while LME lead and zinc rallied around 1 percent.

In Shanghai, aluminum struck 14,255 yuan a tonne, the highest since Sept 2014.

Link to article

Related:

Copper has best week in five yearsFinancial Times, November 11

Copper Has Best Week Ever as Analysts Warn It Can't Last: ChartBloomberg, November 11

Trump Takes Copper Bulls Down Memory LaneBloomberg Gadfly, November 11

Trump's Promises Fuel Volatility in Metals MarketsWall Street Journal, November 13

Back to Headlines

Coal Prices on Fire

Coal called 'the spectacular turnaround story of 2016'

November 11 (Wall Street Journal) Coal has been red hot this year.

The energy commodity championed by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has been "the spectacular turnaround story of 2016," said Morgan Stanley analyst Tom Price.

Why?

In April, China introduced new coal-production caps limiting the number of working days for its miners to 276 a year from 330 previously. Prices have since rocketed, with coal vastly outperforming other commodity markets.

The value of coking coal shipped from Australia, the world's top exporter of the steelmaking commodity, has tripled to more than US$300 a metric ton. Thermal coal, used to generate electricity, has also jumped.

China recently said it would loosen restrictions on coal-production, although that was skewed to thermal coal, designed to ensure enough supplies for winter heating.

And "there is clear skepticism from market participants that production is increasing [as] there is no data yet to illustrate it," Macquarie Group analysts wrote in a note.

The country's coal output was down more than 10% on-year in the first nine months of 2016.

In the U.S., Mr. Trump's surprise victory is fanning expectations of new investment in fossil fuels, with the next president having promised to revive the country's beleaguered coal regions. But measures to reverse recent industry regulation could increase both supply and demand for coal in the U.S., having a muted impact on the global market.

"For prices to normalize, the market has to see a Chinese supply response," the Macquarie analysts said.

That's important because China is by far the world's biggest producer of the energy commodity, so even a small fall in its output is meaningful in the global market.

As its production has fallen, China‒also the world's largest consumer of both thermal and coking coal‒has purchased more from the international market.

The problem is that, after a steep, multi-year downturn in world coal markets, in which output was cut and new projects shelved, imports have struggled to fill the gap.

"Admittedly, Chinese imports fell back in September, but they remain high, and the most recent shipping data suggest that imports picked up again in October," Capital Economics economist Thomas Pugh said.

Prices have meantime shown little sign of pulling back, with steady gains posted most days in recent times. The last time Australian coking coal prices recorded a daily fall in value was at the start of August.

Chinese speculators have pounced on the market, racing in to bet on a continued rise in prices.

Many analysts say this should be the peak in prices. They argue high prices will ultimately trigger a rise in supplies.

Macquarie forecasts coking coal to average US$200 a ton this quarter, before falling back to an average of US$150 a ton next year and US$120 the following year. It projects thermal coal will also fall following an estimated average of roughly US$83 a ton this quarter.

Link to article

Related:

India's industry body calls for united fight against surging coking coal pricesThe Hindu, November 10

Back to Headlines

Gold Prices Reach Five-Month Low

Higher risk appetite, firm U.S. dollar weigh on gold prices

November 11 (WSJ) Gold prices fell to a five-month low Friday as appetite for riskier investments improved after Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election, damping demand for haven assets.

Gold for December delivery settled down 3.3% at $1,224.30 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, closing at the lowest level since June 3. Friday's drop marked the fifth straight day of losses for the precious metal, and the biggest one-day drop in nearly three years.

"The market is still trying to filter through the election news," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures. "The safe-haven asset might be off the table here for the short term."

Expectations for President-elect Trump's plans for tax cuts and infrastructure spendinghave driven equity markets higher after the election. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to a record and bond yields rose around the world Thursday.

"Observers of the gold market must be rubbing their eyes in bewilderment. Donald Trump is elected the new U.S. president and the reaction is euphoric celebration on the financial markets—gold, on the other hand, finds itself under noticeable pressure," analysts at Commerzbank said.

Besides significantly higher risk appetite, other factors weighing on the gold price include the firm U.S. dollar and higher chances of a U.S. Federal Reserve rate increase in December.

The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index, which weighs the dollar against a basket of other currencies, was up 0.3% on Friday. As gold is priced in dollars, it becomes more expensive for holders of other currencies as the dollar appreciates.

Meanwhile, federal-fund futures tracked by CME put the likelihood of an increase at the next Federal Reserve meeting at 81.1%. A rate increase is typically bearish for gold, which struggles to compete with other investments as rates rise, as it doesn't bear interest.

"The December Fed meeting is still hovering over this market," Mr. Haberkorn said.

Link to article

Related:

Gold could soar under President TrumpBusiness Insider UK, November 11

Back to Headlines

Iron Ore Rises to More Than Two-Year High

Expectations of better-than-expected demand in the U.S. and China as well a slower-than-expected iron ore supply boost the steelmaking ingredient

LONDON, November 11 (WSJ)—The price of iron ore jumped Friday, climbing to a more than two-year high on a combination of better-than-expected demand, slower-than-expected iron ore supply growth in recent months and speculative trading activity.

The benchmark spot price for delivery of the steelmaking ingredient into China rose 7.4% to $79.70 a metric ton, marking its highest level since October 2014, according to data from The Steel Index.

Brokerage firm SP Angel said in a note the rise is "driven by a potential pro-stimulus Trump administration and continuing Chinese government economic growth support measures.

Iron ore prices have risen 18% since business tycoon Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election this week. Other commodities such as copper have also rallied on expectations that Mr. Trump will aim to fulfill his promise of spending more on infrastructure to rehabilitate the country's ailing industrial base.

The iron ore price rise has defied some analysts who expected a price fall this year as some of the major miners suffered production setbacks and steel demand in China, the world's largest iron ore consumer and steel producer, swung to growth from contraction.

"Can I justify $80 a ton [for iron ore]? absolutely not," said Macquarie Group analyst Colin Hamilton who is still sticking to his $50 a ton average price forecast for this year. "All of that is...speculative activity," he noted.

Jefferies analyst Chris LaFemina, however note that the price rise isn't random. "What is happening is that we're seeing commodity price inflation," he noted, referring to a sudden rise in coal prices that have had knock on effect on other commodities such as steel.

On the demand side, China, which typically accounts for about half of the world's total, is forecast to grow its steel demand by 0.5% this year compared with previous expectations for a decline, said the world's largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, this week. This is because is Chinese economic stimulus measures introduced earlier this year that have boosted residential and infrastructure investment.

On the supply side, the world's four largest iron ore producers, Brazil's Vale SA, Anglo Australian miners Rio Tinto PLC and BHP Billiton Ltd, and Australia's Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. have expanded their output by less than expected this year. The big four account for nearly 80% of the 1.4 billion ton seaborne iron ore market, according to Jefferies.

"This market is a lot tighter than what consensus" had expected, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Tyler Broda. Global iron ore supply and demand has swung to a 40 million ton deficit this year compared with a 100 million tons surplus last year, according to Macquarie.

This is partly due to lost supply from 31 million-ton-a-year Brazilian iron ore producer Samarco, which is jointly owned by Vale and BHP. The venture has been shut since November 2015 when a dam burst, killing 19 people and polluting hundreds of miles of rivers.

Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest exporter of the steel ingredient after Vale, also revised this year's output guidance down to as low as 325 million tons from Australia compared with previous guidance of 330 million tons following setbacks in automating its railway fleet.

Additional West African output could ramp up to meet demand at these price levels, said Mr. Hamilton, but is unlikely to do so unless prices stick around these levels for longer.

In a potential sign of tough times in the iron ore market, Rio Tinto agreed last month to sell its entire stake in the Simandou project in Guinea to Aluminum Corp. of China or Chinalco for $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion. Rio Tinto, which first began developing the project in 1997, had aspirations to develop the $20 billion project into one of the world's largest and lowest-cost iron ore mines, possibly rivaling its own in Australia and Vale's in Brazil. Rio Tinto, however, struggled to secure financing to develop the project.

Link to article

Related:

Iron ore's trumped up gains are seen at risk after prices doubledSydney Morning Herald, November 12

Iron ore's enormous rally has been upgraded from 'amazing' to 'gangbusters'Business Insider Australia, November 11

Donald Trump's gift to Australia worth billions in the long runThe Age, November 12

Back to Headlines

Oil Falls to Eight-Week Low as OPEC Output Gain Threatens Accord

  • Iran tells OPEC it pumped most oil since end of sanctions
  • OPEC meets in Vienna at end of month to finalize output deal

November 11 (Bloomberg) Oil dropped to the lowest in almost two months in New York on rising OPEC output after a volatile week driven by uncertainty about the group's intentions and the surprise election of Donald Trump.

Futures fell 2.8 percent Friday. Iran and Iraq, which want exemptions from an Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries accord to cut production, told the group they raised output last month, while Saudi Arabia pumped near record levels. Oil has dropped about 15 percent from its October high on growing doubts that OPEC will be able to finalize the Algiers accord at its Nov. 30 summit amid a refusal to cut output from almost a third of its members.

"Oil is falling today because of OPEC's self-inflicted wounds," said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy. "OPEC members are confessing to large increases in production that might make achieving their Algiers deal an impossibility."

The International Energy Agency, the Paris-based adviser to some of the world's biggest economies, said it's waiting to see whether President-elect Trump's rhetoric on Iran hardens into action before revising its market forecasts. While investors took comfort from Trump's conciliatory acceptance speech on Wednesday, rising U.S. crude supplies served as a reminder of the inventory overhang.

West Texas Intermediate for December delivery dropped $1.25 to $43.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It's the lowest close since Sept. 19. The contract declined 1.5 percent this week. Total volume traded was about 9 percent above the 100-day average.

Exchange Records

WTI open interest on Nymex passed 2 million contracts for the first time ever Thursday, according to data on the CME website. Aggregate volume slipped from a record set on Wednesday, with 1.34 million contracts changing hands.

Brent for January settlement fell $1.09, or 2.4 percent, to $44.75 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It's the lowest close since Aug. 10. Prices slipped 1.8 percent this week. The global benchmark ended the session at a 60-cent premium to January WTI.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a gauge of the greenback against 10 major peers, rose to the highest since February. A stronger U.S. currency usually reduces the appeal of dollar-denominated raw materials as an investment. The Bloomberg Commodity Index fell to the lowest since Sept. 1.

"We have too much oil, something the IEA report yesterday and OPEC today makes clear," said Stephen Schork, president of the Schork Group Inc., a consulting company in Villanova, Pennsylvania. "The dollar's rocketed, which is putting downward pressure on commodities."

Iran, Iraq

Iran, freed from curbs on its oil trade in January, said it increased output by 210,000 barrels a day to 3.92 million a day in October from the previous month, according to a monthly report from OPEC. Secondary sources showed a more modest addition of 27,500 barrels a day for October.

The report was updated later on Friday to include a submission from Iraq, which didn't initially provide an output level. Iraq told the organization that it produced 4.776 million barrels a day in October, 215,000 barrels a day more than OPEC's own estimate.

OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, decided in November 2014 against curtailing production to support oil prices and instead to pump at capacity to increase market share. This drove crude to a 12-year low in January this year and pushed high-cost U.S. production down. Following more than two years of low prices, OPEC reversed its policy in September, saying it would cut production for the first time in eight years.

"In this year of outlier outcomes it's not out of the question that the Saudis will decide to change course and pump all they can since everyone else is," Kilduff said.

December gasoline futures fell 2.4 percent to $1.3053 a gallon. Diesel for December delivery declined 2.5 percent to $1.4012, the lowest settlement since Sept. 19.

In other oil-market news:

  • Rigs targeting crude in the U.S. rose by 2 to 452, the highest level since February, Baker Hughes Inc. said on its website Friday.
  • Rosneft PJSC, Russia's biggest oil producer, said third-quarter profit dropped 77 percent as a decline in export duties lagged behind slumping crude prices.
  • Petroleo Brasileiro SA's loss widened in the third quarter as the state-controlled oil producer posted a 15.7 billion-real ($4.6 billion) impairment related to currency swings and declining oil prices.
  • Oil companies booked tankers to store as many as 9 million barrels of crude in northwest Europe amid signs that space in on-land depots is filling up, a ship-operator said.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Politics & Legal

Former PM Altankhuyag announces run for President

November 9 (news.mn) Former Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag has announced that he will run for the office of President of Mongolia in next year's election. Earlier today (9th of November), Mr Altankhuyag called a press conference at Ulaanbaatar's Tuushin Hotel today, during which he accused Mongolian People's Party of breaking its election campaign pledges and trying to seize power at all levels of government.

N.Altankhuyag served as PM in the previous Democratic Party government before being ousted by MPs, including some from his own party, in a 'no-confidence' vote in 2014. He had been accused of economic mismanagement, corruption and nepotism.

N.Altankhuyag served as the 27th Prime Minister of Mongolia from 2012 to 2014.

Link to article

Related:

Former PM states to run for presidentMontsame, November 9

Back to Headlines

Offshore allegations: Kyokushuzan D.Batbayar say he was mistaken

November 8 (news.mn) Former professional sumo wrestler and ex Member of Parliament, "Kyokushuzan" D.Batbayar made a statement declaring that he was mistaken with another Batbayar Davaa regarding offshore allegations. He said, the real offshore account owner was D.Batbayar, who is a member of the peoples' assembly for Orkhon province. "Kyokushuzan" also noted that a 40 billion investment from a Japanese construction company have been delayed amid offshore allegations involved him, furthermore, he was barred from being nominated in the Mongolian parliamentary election in June.

An online database published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) as part of the Panama Papers investigation includes 49 results for Mongolia. One of the Mongolian offshore account holders listed is D.Batbayar.

Soon after the ICIJ revealed the names of offshore account holders, D.Batbayar made a statement declaring that he does not own an offshore account, that he has never been involved in any offshore companies, and that he approached the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC)  and the Police Department to have the issue investigated. But the legislative bodies rejected his request as he was no longer an MP or sumo professional.   

He said, anyone who holds a high political position should not own offshore accounts; businessmen, however, can do so. Previously, D.Batbayar said, I have admitted that I hold four or five accounts in Japan, but these accounts were opened 20 years ago, when I started professional sumo wrestling. No money from Mongolia was deposited to these accounts; the only transactions were transfers from these accounts to Mongolia.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Prime Minister gives tasks regarding winter preparations and currency rate

Ulaanbaatar, November 10 (MONTSAME) At the beginning of Wednesday's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat gave certain tasks to relevant ministers. The Mining minister were assigned to set up a working group to monitor over the observance of the Premier's assignments to Oyu Tolgoi, Erdenes-Tavantolgoi, Energy Resource and the local Tavantolgoi companies, and the measures to be taken on Gashuunsukhait Mongolia-China border-checkpoint.

The Deputy Prime Minister was charged to consult with related organizations on improving wintering preparations and limiting the growth of USD exchange rate against Mongolian currency.

The head of government directed the Minister of Finance to study possibilities to have diplomatic missions in Mongolia execute the transfers for visas and other applications fees with the national currency of Mongolia, and to regulate the currency rate being pursued in commercial banks, which are usually higher than that fixed by the central bank.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

PM visits major projects in South Gobi

Ulaanbaatar, November 7 (MONTSAME) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat was on a working tour in Umnugovi (South Gobi) province last weekend, and paid site visits to Oyu Tolgoi concentrator, underground mining development, Tsagaan Suvarga (White Stupa) mine, Gashuunsukhait bordercheckpoint, Tavantolgoi LLC and Energy Resource LLC.

He emphasized an importance of forwarding the major construction and mining projects as an exit from the current economic challenges, and the project must serve both in favor of the interests of the people and in line with the business principles.

The head of government also appealed the related ministries and shareholders of the projects to lay off the good-for-nothing arguments over politics and papers, and to focus on the progression.

Mr J.Erdenebat was accompanied by N.Amarzaya and N.Enkhbold MPs, Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry Ts.Dashdorj, Minister of Energy P.Gankhuu and Minister of Road and Transport Development D.Ganbat.

Link to article

Related:

Prime Minister of Mongolia J.Erdenebat visits Oyu TolgoiOyu Tolgoi LLC, November 6

Back to Headlines

Parliament OKs state-owned companies' privatizations, discussing of Offshore Law amendments

Ulaanbaatar, November 11 (MONTSAME) The State Great Khural passed 10 laws and four resolutions on Thursday's plenary meeting. Thus, the parliament allowed for the privatization of the Mongol Post and the Erdenet-Bulgan Power Network System state-owned companies, on MNT 20 billion and 30 billion respectively.

These laws also authorized dedication of MNT 5.8 billion to the funding of Babysitting Services, and the increase of salary for the staffers of prosecutors' offices, the chairman and members of the Constitutional Court.

Moreover, the 2017 Budget Framework Statement and the 2018-2019 Budget Assumptions were adopted.

The Parliament backed the decision to hold a reading for the proposed amendments to the law on adjustment of personal interests in government and public service (the Offshore Law) and to the Law on Public Services.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

MP T.Ayursaikhan opposes the privatization of certain state-owned enterprises

November 11 (UB Post) The draft of the 2017 budget includes the privatization of certain state-owned enterprises to generate revenue of 50 billion MNT, but the decision is being opposed in Parliament.

The draft proposes the sale of Mongol Post for 20 billion MNT and the sale of Erdenet Bulgan Electricity Distribution Network for 30 billion MNT.

MP T.Ayursaikhan recently spoke to ikon.mn regarding his views on the proposed privatization of state assets.

During the discussion of the draft budget, you expressed your opposition to the privatization of Mongol Post and Erdenet Bulgan Electricity Distribution Network. Why are you opposed to this?

The postal service should be owned by the government. State secrets and sensitive in-
formation are sent through the postal service. There are also instances in other countries of the postal service being used to cause harm to individuals and businesses. For these reasons, I believe that 51 percent of Mongol Post should be owned by the government and the rest can be privatized. Mongol Post was publically offered before and 34 percent of it was bought for 6.1 billion MNT. That 6.1 billion

MNT is in the Mongol Post account. In addition, Mongol Post owns stamps valued at up to 5 billion MNT. Stamps are as equally valuable as the MNT. Despite this, they are talking about sell it for 20 billion MNT. If the current shareholders fully privatize Mongol Post, it would mean that they would be able to receive 34 percent of the company for free.

What do you think is the reasoning behind trying to privatize state-owned companies that are profitable?

All state-owned companies have the opportunity to work profitably. We need to further improve the profitable companies and transform the unprofitable ones into profitable enterprises. In order to do this, we need to establish a specific contract with the executives of state-owned companies. If the company has a revenue deficit, the executives will be held responsible. We need to establish a contract that states that. There are many people willing to do this job.

The main reason state-owned companies have revenue deficits is because the executives themselves want the company to perform poorly in order to privatize it for themselves.

What are your thoughts on the valuations of the two companies?

I do not believe the price evaluation is accurate. Mongol Post was valued at 20 billion MNT, yet Mongol Post generates profits of 10 billion MNT. Around 6 billion MNT of that is probably used for expenditures. In addition, Mongol Post owns 40 percent of the Central Post Office, 330 buildings in the countryside, 130 vehicles, and has 6.1 billion MNT in its account. Taking all of that into account, the value is not accurate at all.

Link to interview

Back to Headlines

Budget Standing Committee task force reports on review of state-owned companies

November 4 (UB Post) At the beginning of a regular meeting of the Budget Standing Committee (BSC) held on November 2, a task force that evaluated the current operations and financial situation of 87 state-owned enterprises presented committee members with a report on their findings.

They task force, led by head of the BSC Ch.Khurelbaatar, reported there were 40,364 employees working for state-owned enterprises in 2012, but their employees dramatically increased to 45,618 (13 percent) in 2015. The debt of the companies was 3.5 trillion MNT in 2012, and rose to 10.8 trillion MNT in 2015. The enterprises, which had no deficits in 2012, face deficit of 11.3 billion MNT as of 2015.

The task force pointed out that reducing their debt and deficit, developing their leadership and management, and enhancing the effectiveness of the state's capital was essential.

Auditor General of the Mongolian National Audit Office (MNAO) A.Zangad said that the MNAO has taken control of audits for state-owned enterprises and limitations on the auditing of financial statements have been placed for enterprises with deficits, in violation of the law.             He pointed out that cases of suspected illegalities are being investigated.

Director of the Government Procurement Agency (GPA) Ts.Nyam-Osor stated that the GPA has the right to approve budgets for about 10 enterprises out of 87, and since the GPA's establishment, a contract has been signed with the heads of state-owned enterprises to take steps to reduce their deficit and debt.

He underlined that he will dismiss the heads of companies if favorable outcomes do not arise. Ts.Nyam-Osor added that there will be a study conducted to identify the sources of challenges that the state's companies face.

Member of Parliament Z.Narantuya put forward a proposal to prohibit top ministry officials from being appointed to the boards of directors of state-owned enterprises.
MP Ts.Davaasuren said that developing the legal and regulatory environment is very important for improving corporate governance.

The MPs voted against a proposal to include expenditures for new construction in 2017 in the budgets of the ministries. But a proposal to add 90.7 million MNT to the 2017 state budget, 13.5 million MNT to the Future Heritage Fund, and 519.5 million MNT to the Budget Stabilization Fund was approved.

The MPs also accepted a proposal to privatize some state-owned companies. It was suggested that the sale of Mongol Shuudan Communication Company could generate revenue of 20 billion MNT and Erdenet Bulgan Electricity Distribution Network Company could earn the state 30 billion MNT.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Erdenet Mining Corp. appoints new board

November 3 (news.mn) The new board members of the Erdenet Mining Corporation (EMC), one of the biggest ore mining and processing plants in Asia, have been appointed. 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.

The executive board includes Da.Ganbold, O.Orkhon and M.Munkhbaatar from the MCC; from the government side, the delagates are U.Byambasuren, G.Nandinjargal, D.Demberel and N.Dorjsembed are delegating government of Mongolia. Board members will be appointed for a four year term; the director of EMC is to be selected by a 66% vote of board members. The director and board members will receive a MNT 250-300 thousand salary according to Ts.Nyam-ochir, head of the Government Procurement Agency of Mongolia.

Russia's Rostec sold 49% of shares in the Erdenet Mining Corporation to the Mongolian Copper Corporation on June 24, 2016.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

MPP weighs in on the government's 2017 economic policy

November 10 (UB Post) MPs B.Javkhlan and B.Battumur held a press conference reporting on the outcome of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) regular session held on November 7, which discussed the bill on the state's 2017 economic agenda and the government's approach to monetary policy.

The following is an interview with MP B.Javkhlan conducted by news.mn following the press conference.

An IMF working group was in Mongolia for ten days and recently left. How successful were the meetings with the IMF? The IMF made it clear that they are ready to help Mongolia, but the two sides must come to an agreement before any action can be taken. Is the government still interested in receiving a bailout from the IMF? What were the results of those meetings?

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat and President of Mongol Bank N.Bayarsaikhan were both present during the regular session of the MPP. In the last two weeks, government agencies, Mongol Bank, and Parliament all met with the IMF working group. They collected very detailed information about our economy and went back after they had finished their research. In the past, we cooperated with the IMF in 1990 and 2008. Back then, the requirements that were given to us were different from what is required now. For example, in the past, they used to pressure us with their version of monetary policy, but they have become more flexible now. It was clear that our voices were heard. They were interested in our plan to overcome economic hardships. The working group was also interested in finding out what steps Parliament, Mongol Bank, and the government would support. The debt our country has incurred compared to our GDP shows a very high discrepancy. Therefore, the IMF seems to be calculating risks. The working group also reminded us that there are other avenues for financing aside from the IMF.

So, outside of implementing the IMF's stand-by agenda, is it possible to receive loans from China?

Yes it is possible. These two loans are different. The IMF is offering a low interest loan with a one to two year maturity rate. The loans we are exploring from China and other countries are long term loans with a low interest rate. In my opinion, we need to implement the standby agenda in order to improve our current financial situation. In other words, by implementing the standby agenda, we will increase our chances of receiving a better long term loan.

What requirements did the IMF have for Mongolia?

Budgetary discipline. They require that we abide by our budget stability law and debt management law. This year is forecast to have a nine percent budget deficit. They require that we work to manage this deficit. They also require that we cut back on our operational expenditure.

If we implement the standby agenda and receive a one billion to 1.5 billion USD loan from the IMF, it has been speculated that the money would be used to pay off the Samurai Bond and the Chinggis Bond. Is this true?

The repayment of the Chinggis Bond will start later this year. We need to pay 60 million USD by the end of this year, 300 million USD in 2017, and 500 million USD in 2018. Of course, a certain amount of the loan from the IMF will be used to pay off the Chinggis Bond. The IMF has emphasized that we must look for other avenues of financing in order to spread out our risks. Our policy is to use most of the money from the loan for our operational expenditure and budget financing.

You recently became the head of the working group tasked with amending monetary policy. What changes are you making to monetary policy?

The MPP recommended two amendments to monetary policy. One is to support the development of non-banking financial institutions. Investment fund, participants in the securities market, and insurance companies will all be included. This move would help diversify the financial environment, which has become overly dependent on banking institutions. In other words, we are increasing options for people seeking out loans. The second amendment has to do with the liberalization of the banking market. In other words, the amendment will support the creation of a financial institution that offers low interest loans to customers.

Commercial banks account for 90 percent of the financial market share. There have been calls to develop other institutions in this market. Will the two amendments you mentioned help develop investment funds, the securities market, and the insurance industry?

These amendments would change the whole system. This cannot be done in one year. This could continue for four to eight years. By amending monetary policy, we can start this systemic change. If the government, the Financial Regulatory Commission, and Mongol Bank take more significant measures, it would be a big contribution.

There have been reports that five foreign banks have filed requests to start operations in Mongolia. You previously worked as the vice president of Mongol Bank. What banks have filed requests to operate in Mongolia? Is it right to allow foreign banks to operate here?

I do not know exactly which banks have filed requests. From what I have heard, no international banks have filed requests to open branches in Mongolia. In 2011 and 2012, when the economy had exponential growth, many international banks were interested in operating here. Now that our credit score has declined and our economic growth has stalled, not many banks are interested in operating here. We need to have an open policy concerning the international community. Especially now, when foreign direct investments have significantly decreased and the flow of foreign currency has declined, we need to be open to international financial and banking institutions.

You have probably conducted studies as part of the working group focused on amending monetary policy. What risks face the financial sector if foreign banks and financial institutions begin to operate here?

What we cannot stop doing is protecting the domestic banking market. Our domestic commercial banks are very active in the savings market. This market can be handled by our domestic banks. If foreign banks operate here, they would not be allowed to operate in the savings market. They could offer large loans that our domestic banks cannot. They could also cooperate with domestic banks if they were permitted to issue smaller loans. We can regulate foreign banks, such as requiring their workforce to be 70 to 80 percent Mongolian.

So, you do not deny that there is a possibility that foreign banks could operate here?

We need to strengthen our legal environment and improve our regulations. As I mentioned before, in a time when foreign direct investments have significantly decreased and the flow of foreign currency has declined, we need to be open to international financial and banking institutions.

Link to interview

Back to Headlines

Parliament to receive and consider 259 bills in four years

Ulaanbaatar, November 10 (MONTSAME) The cabinet discussed a draft parliamentary resolution on adopting the guidelines for improving the quality of legislations of Mongolia until 2020, and resolved to submit it to the Parliament.

In accordance with the draft, a total of 259 draft laws and 16 draft parliamentary resolutions will be worked out and presented to the State Great Khural (Parliament). Thereby, a list of legislative acts has been designed based on proposals the cabinet received from 43 corresponding.

As far as bills and resolutions authors are concerned, 238 bills will be initiated by the cabinet, 17 -by lawmakers and four -- by the President.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Risk Foresight: Signs of increased foreign investment returning to Mongolia

MPP's victory in local elections likely to mean support for party's plans to boost Mongolian economy by attracting external investment

On October 28 Mongolia's prime minister, Jargaltulgyn Erdenebat, reviewing his government's first 100 days in office, said its top priority was restoring Mongolia's reputation with foreign investors. This strong local election victory is likely to offer renewed support for the plans of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) to boost Mongolia's economy, which has declined significantly in recent years, in part because of dwindling foreign investment resulting from anti-foreign investor sentiment towards previous Mongolian governments and legislatures.

In August the government established a cabinet-level council to ensure the certainty and transparency of laws affecting foreign investment and to help resolve any ...

Link to article (needs subscription)

Back to Headlines

Wages for prosecutors and Constitutional Court judges to increase

November 12 (UB Post) During Tuesday's meeting of Parliament, MPs approved a resolution to dismiss half of the Judicial General Council's officials and to increase the salaries of prosecutors, members, and the head of the Constitutional Court.

After Parliament approves a draft of the 2017 state budget, Head of the Constitutional Court N.Jantsan will receive a monthly salary of 3.25 million MNT, members of the Constitutional Court will get a monthly salary of 3.2 million MNT, and prosecutors will be receiving salaries of 1.7 million to 2.2 million MNT each month.

Justices T.Lkhagva, D.Naranchimeg, First President of Mongolia P.Ochirbat, D.Solongo, D.Sugar, Sh.Tsogtoo, and D.Ganzorig are the current members of the Constitutional Court.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

MP N.Enkhbold receives UN delegation to exchange views on cooperation

November 9 (UB Post) Member of Parliament and Head of the State Building Standing Committee N.Enkhbold met with United Nations Resident Coordinator Beate Trankmann and her accompanying delegation on November 7, to discuss institutional structure key to implementing Mongolia's 2030 Sustainable Development Vision (MSDV).

Trankmann presented N.Enkhbold with a report on the current status of institutions that are critical in implementing the MSDV and the improvements the institutions require. She
noted that they have studied which institutional mechanisms will be suitable for implementing the MSDV.

The Resident Coordinator of the UN said that she understands that the State Building Standing Committee is responsible for implementing sustainable development objectives and policy documents. She asked N.Enkhbold to discuss the selection of suitable institutional mechanisms with members of Parliament and Cabinet.

The head of the UNDP's research team, Dr. Khashchuluun, presented the results of the working group's studies to MP N.Enkhbold. Dr. Khashchuluun pointed out that the team has drafted a resolution to deal with the nation's challenges in socioeconomic development.

He stressed that it is critical to ensure that the development policies of economic sectors, the provinces, and the state are in compliance with the MSDV.

Establishing an investment program, enhancing the capacity of human resources, and improving the operations of province development funds were also key directives outlined in their report.

MP N.Enkhbold said that the study was very productive. He added that it is possible to make amendments to some laws, as well as to draft constitutional amendments to promote sustainable development.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia – Rich in Governance Models

By Julian Dierkes

November 2 (Mongolia Focus) These days, the optimism regarding Mongolia's development (economic, political, social) has turned into a disappointed consternation, "how could things go so wrong?". Of course, the answer is mostly a domestic political one, but is also linked to commodity prices, etc. While we used to think of Mongolia as a soon-to-be-rich country, that is a little less clear now. Soon-to-be-rich in democracy, human development, etc. Those have all been topics for many posts on this blog and I will continue to return to these questions. But, inspired by a workshop in Bishkek bringing together Burmese, Kyrgyz, Mongolian, and Timorese participants, I am observing that Mongolia may well be rich in one unexpected commodity: mining governance models.

Governance Models

Here, I am primarily concerned with the nature and extent of government involvement in mining enterprises. More specifically, different levels and forms of government ownership, a limited view of governance, of course.

From a Canadian perspective (and it's a very interesting conversation from this perspective at the workshop that got me writing this post), that is an odd concern under the broader rubric of governance models. Simplistically, there is no state ownership of mining enterprises in Canada. Of course, that could be a more complex discussion of First Nations involvement, and also public subsidies for mining in the tax code or in the unwelcome role of the public as an owner-of-last-resort when it comes to clean up of mining activities (see Giant Mine as an example, though not of ownership formally). Yet, as a simplistic statement, it probably works to say that the federal government does not act as an owner in mining enterprises.

Mongolia

If we think about mining governance as including different levels of involvement of the government, I would claim, Mongolia is rich in different models that are all operating at once.

What I mean is that the mining industry in Mongolia includes companies that

  • are fully privately held, that include some level of government ownership, and fully government-owned mines.
  • are operated directly by the state, or owned by a state holding company.
  • are very small companies that amount to barely more than a backhoe and a truck, there are medium-sized industrial mining companies operating a single mine, there are very large mining concerns with multiple operations.
  • are entirely owned by Mongolians, partly owned by Mongolians and non-Mongolians, and fully owned by non-Mongolians.

If we arranged these dimensions in some kind of array, we could probably fill all cells with at least one example from Mongolia.

International

Not all mining economies display such an array of different ownership models. Take Canada or Australia as mature mining economies, for example, and federal government ownership does not exist as a model, even though there are also many variations as to the size and domestic vs. foreign ownership.

In learning more about the four countries represented at the workshop, there is also much less diversity in ownership models than there is in Mongolia. In Kyrgyzstan, the instinct toward state ownership is strong, but the most prominent mining enterprise (Kumtor, with its Canada links (Centerra Gold) that are also a Mongolian link (Boroo Gold)) is fully owned by a Canadian company (Centerra), but the Kyrgyz government in turn has a 33% share in the Canadian company via Kyrgyzaltyn.

The Burmese oil and gas sector is primarily organized around production sharing contracts, while mining is dominated by direct state ownership and operation. There is also some involvement by foreign investors, often SOEs from China. More ownership models seem to be on the horizon as Myanmar is taking steps toward opening its mining sector for investment.

The natural resource sector of Timor-Leste is concentrated in oil. Timor-Leste has a national oil company, Timor Gap, that partners with foreign companies in exploration and investments.

While the oil & gas sector operates very differently from the mining sector in many areas, making the Timorese and Burmese cases perhaps somewhat more distant from Mongolia, the Mongolian experience with different ownership models is still quite relevant to other emerging mining economies.

What does this Wealth of Models Mean?

It is not the case that Mongolia set out with its turn to a market economy following its democratic revolution in 1990 to become a world leader in the variety of governance models. At that time, there were only three models,

  • Erdenet, the very large copper and molybdenum mine, jointly owned by the government and the Soviet Union
  • fully-foreign owned operations like the uranium mines operated by the Soviet Union
  • fully publicly owned mines within Mongolia, like the coal mines near Ulaanbaatar that were developed to heat/power the capital (Nalaikh, Baganuur, etc.)

To some extent legislation on mining from the 1990s on was aimed at encouraging foreign investment, so this did presage some of the variety of models that have emerged since then.

But, a number of subsequent policy decisions took Mongolia further in the direction of a variety of governance models. For example, designation as a "strategic deposit" mandates a state equity stake in projects, but does not determine the level or nature of involvement.

So, today, Mongolia really is a particularly rich ecosystems of ownership governance models. Surely, some of these models have shown themselves to be effective for particular outcomes. Erdenet Mine would be the most prominent example here. As a mine that has been owned and operated by the state (and the Soviet state), most Mongolians see it as successful in spurring the growth of Erdenet as a town, and in securing financial benefits to the Mongolian state. More doubts may arise as to its corporate record (i.e. is it an efficient operation in extracting copper), or regarding its environmental impact. Given its disastrous closure "policies", the Nalaikh coal mines might be an example of successful state-operated extractions, but at huge costs to the community after the state failed to close the mine properly.

At this point, I have not really seen a process that would begin to settle on one specific model, but instead, mostly not by design but in fact nevertheless, the diversity of models is likely to persist for some time.

That means, for example, in terms of political risk for foreign investment, that there is very little in the Mongolian trajectory that suggests outright nationalization, the worst-case scenario for foreign investors.

It also means that policy recommendations and solutions are, perhaps appropriately, complex. While many OECD-based consultants might emphasize the "need" for private sector-led development of the mining sector, Mongolia's neighbours (China and Russia) might lean much more toward SOEs as the engine of development, and nearby neighbours like Japan and South Korea might point to state guidance for private-led development. For Mongolia, all these options exist and are relevant.

How Can Mongolia Benefit from this Wealth?

If I am right that the Mongolian mining industry is an ecosystem with a high level of diversity in governance models, is that a benefit to Mongolia?

Currently, it does not seem that way, as I said in the opening paragraph.

But, many models means experience with many models! If that diversity and that experience can be understood better, it will certainly form a strong basis for future policy decisions.

Sadly, that is yet another "big if" when it comes to Mongolia's future. One of the great missed opportunities of the past 5 years has been the lack of concerted effort to build up analytical capacity within the Mongolian government, but also in civil society and the media. In order to turn the wealth of governance models into a wealth of human and sustainable development, such analytical capacity is sorely missing. Without it, the number of different models is just that, a lot of different models that potentially obfuscate the real situation at mining enterprises as it is difficult to understand for the (Mongolian public). A case in point for that is the recent "privatization" of Erdenet Mine.

In line with previous patterns, the new MPP government seems to be embarking on yet another round of wholesale replacement of personnel, destroying any capacity that may have built up, again. That makes me less than optimistic on the analytical capacity that would help understand the impact of different governance models on benefits that accrue to Mongolians.

Link to post

Back to Headlines

Basics of Mongolia Land Law

November 2 (Lehman Law) Land in Mongolia is categorized in accordance with the unified land territory of Mongolia and, unless otherwise granted for ownership to Mongolian citizens in limited cases, is owned by the State and leased in the form of either possession or use rights.  In almost all cases, other than those for limited household use or small farming plots, the acquisition of land rights is subject to a tender process.

The unified land territory of Mongolia is classified based on the general purpose of its use and the need for its use as follows:

  • Agricultural land;
  • Land of cities, villages, and other urban settlements;
  • Land under roads and networks;
  • Land with forest resources;
  • Land with water resources; and
  • Land for special needs.

Under Mongolian law, there are three (3) types of rights related to land, such as Land Ownership, Land Possession and Land Use. 

Both the Constitution and the Civil Code define "landowner" as the State unless otherwise dictated by legislation allowing private ownership. The Constitution states that only Mongolian citizens may Own land. The Land Law specifically states that "land, excluding pastureland, land for common tenure and land for the state special needs, may be given for Ownership to citizens of Mongolia only." Furthermore, the most specific legislation regarding Mongolian ownership of land, the Land Ownership Law, prohibits the transfer of the Owned land to foreign citizens through sale, trade, gift or pledge.  However, the Land Ownership Law provides that landowners may transfer to others for Use or Possession their land with the relevant Soum or District Governor's consent.

Mongolian citizens of 18 years and over, companies and organizations may Possess or Use land in compliance with the Land Law and "Land Possession Certificate(s)" shall be given only to Mongolian citizens, companies and organizations.  There are three steps toward acquiring land Possession by a Mongolian: 1) the Governor must pass a resolution accepting the Mongolian's request to possess land; 2) after successfully passing of the resolution, a Land Possession Agreement is created between the Government authority and the Mongolian requesting land possession; and 3) when the agreement is successfully executed, a Land Possession Certificate is issued.

With the permission from the corresponding Governor, the land Possessor has the right to grant whole or partial Use Rights of the land to others. This granting of Use of the land to others may be on the basis of land lease agreements or other similar agreements. The Land Law allows foreign legal entities, international organizations, foreign citizens, stateless persons and business entity with foreign investment only to Use land for a certain period of time.

Link to post

Back to Headlines

National Forum on Sustainable Development to kick off on November 17

November 8 (UB Post) The National Forum on Sustainable Development will be organized on November 17 at Shangri-La Center by the National Development Agency, National Council for Sustainable Development, and the GIZ's Integrated Mineral Resources Initiative.

The forum will become a platform for foreign and local researchers, government representatives, entrepreneurs and NGOs to engage in a broad range of discussions about the Sustainable Development Goals and sustainable development vision.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the transformative plan of action based on 17 Sustainable Development Goals, officially came into effect on January 1, 2016 and countries across the globe started addressing urgent global challenges to be discussed and resolved in the next 15 years. Within this framework, international researchers and national experts will present speeches on the Sustainable Development Goals. They will mainly focus on Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; and Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Attendees must register before 6:00 p.m. on November 9.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Religious Freedom Report 2016 – Mongolia

Aid to the Church in Need

Link to report

Back to Headlines

Mongolia ranks 76th in 2016 Prosperity Index

November 8 (UB Post) The 10th Legatum Prosperity Index, covering 149 countries, was published on November 3 by the London-based international think tank Legatum Institute.

Going beyond narrow measures of wealth such as GDP to determine successful nations, the Legatum Prosperity Index is the only global index that measures national prosperity based on both wealth and wellbeing. The index ranks nations based on nine areas of potential success or failure: economic quality, business environment, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, social capital, and the natural environment.

The key finding of this year's Prosperity Index is that global prosperity is at its highest point in the past decade, increasing by three percent since 2007. The 2016 Legatum Prosperity Index ranked New Zealand the most prosperous country out of 149 countries. Mongolia has risen to 76th place over the past decade.

Mongolia was noted as a country at "the threshold of prosperity", on account of strengthening its society and its improved performance on education, as well as its vast mineral resources. However, the report also states, "besides facing challenges in converting burgeoning wealth into prosperity, Mongolia's health and environment sectors obstruct the nation from achieving greater prosperity."

Mongolia made very little improvement in the health sub-index over the last decade, where it ranks 93rd, six places lower than its ranking in 2007. Nevertheless, Mongolia has made significant improvements in the education sub-index, now ranking in the top 50 after rising six places to 48th. There was a slight decline in education inequality but an improvement in the girls to boys enrollment ratio. The Prosperity Index recommended that Mongolia focus on education quality, as the coverage has become high so that education could have a greater impact on Mongolia's future prosperity growth.

In the economic quality sub-index, Mongolia rose from 90th in 2007 to 64th, but the social capital sub-index contributed the most to Mongolia securing prosperity growth in the future. Mongolian society has been growing stronger, with the country rising from 84th to 30th since 2007. This has been attributed to rising social trust and greater altruistic activity by Mongolians towards one another.

The five most prosperous countries on the index, ranked first to fifth, were New Zealand, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, and Canada. The five least prosperous countries on the index, ranked 149th to 145th, were Yemen, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Link to article

Link to Mongolia profile

Back to Headlines

Jargal De Facto: Mongolia's defective democracy

October 13 (UB Post) Capitalism can be referred to as a social system based on an economy with private ownership, whereas socialism means public or state ownership. The government of a capitalist society is a democracy. In contrast, even though the message is that society is ruled by the working class, it is actually a single political party, a small group of senior people, or – in most cases – a single individual who holds the most power.

It has been 25 years since Mongolia transitioned to capitalism from socialism, as other former Soviet Union nations and Eastern European countries did at the time. What this meant is that we replaced our single-party public governance and centrally planned economy with a multi-party system and a free market economy. We even changed the name of our country from the Mongolian People's Republic to Mongolia, and removed the socialist theme from our national anthem.

However, in terms of the significance and meaning of this change, Mongolia has now become an abnormal democracy that is half-capitalist and half-socialist. Currently, our government is too involved in the economy and is trying hard to impose full control of the market. Our political parties, who obtain ruling power through democratic elections, are serving a few interest groups instead of working for the people. Hence, economic decline is a  consistent occurrence in Mongolia.

CAPTURED STATE

Experts are actively discussing how Mongolians can overcome these repeated economic declines. Everyone agrees that the economy will not recover and livelihoods will not improve unless the root cause of the problem is identified and fixed. We are facing the significant risk of wasting another 25 years politicizing issues, changing governments, and deceiving ourselves while the more capable and educated of our people leave the country to live abroad.

Socio-economic conditions similar to those in Mongolia have also surfaced in other post-communist countries. In his book "From Totalitarianism to Defective Democracy", Michal Kilma, a professor at Metropolitan University Prague, wrote about a culture of slaves, where people blindly serve the leaders of their political party in a post-communist space when civil society is weak. Such a culture weakens internal oversight within government organizations and makes their operations ineffective. Eventually, non-transparent businesses gain control of political parties and have government decisions made to serve their own interests. Professor Klima calls this phenomenon "capturing the state".

Professor Klima states that once the state is captured by these non-transparent businesses, all government organizations become corrupt and fail in their responsibility to serve the people. This is what defective democracy is. A classic example of how non-transparent businesses can make government decisions their own can be read in my article "Erdenebilegism: A new phenomenon in Mongolia's democracy".

PARASITES

In the Czech Republic, political parties have continued mutually beneficial  collaboration with non-transparent businesses, despite the partnership being harmful to society, and have transitioned into clientele-ism. Professor Klima believes that the government allowed the stronger political parties and non-transparent businesses to be given advantages by the state, and turned them into parasites that feed on the public's wealth. Such parasites have consistently grown in numbers from election to election in Mongolia.

Professor Klima also says that the capturing of state has been conducted in a way where political parties were privatized from the bottom and colonized from the top. Privatization from the bottom refers to non-transparent businesses buying political party members and getting local governments under their control. Colonization from the top refers to senior management of non-transparent businesses imposing their control on political party leaders.

It can be said that these two processes have taken their own paths in Mongolia, defined by public awareness and culture. All of our political parties, including the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) and Democratic Party (DP), have already been colonized. The only difference is that those who colonized the political parties are the political party leaders themselves, who own the non-transparent businesses driving political agendas. These people have imposed their control on their political parties through corruption.

Regardless of where it started, Mongolia's non-transparent businesses are flourishing and they are capturing the state. As soon as they are elected, these bought politicians instantly forget what they promised to deliver and start appointing their relatives to seats in the government after creating new ministries and positions. It results in non-transparent governance. What they also do is replace people who were hired by the previous government with their own "slaves", who work only for them. Political party leaders collect funds in the guise of donations, and keep most of them in their personal accounts. In return, they repay their debts in many ways, such as distributing government positions and manipulating public tenders.

The Mongolian people now understand that these economic declines trace back to political parties rather than the economy. Because political party financing is undisclosed and fake reports are submitted, the parties are able to collect huge donations and become the godfathers of non-transparent businesses.

As soon as the political parties these godfathers belong to win an election, they are able to more easily steal public funds and increase the number of billionaires born from the government. As they have reduced the number of internal financial sources to steal from, the government is now pursuing loans internationally, implementing pipe dream programs, and embezzling funds through the financial and economic regulatory organizations that are supposed to provide oversight. The judiciary branch is also controlled by these godfathers. Therefore, despite crimes of corruption being discovered, the damages are never recovered. What they do is issue a sentence of a few years and then issue pardons to the culprits shortly after.

My article "Fakestan" discusses how the people are paying for the economic losses that were caused by these parasites feeding on public funds.

WHEN WILL WE OVERCOME DECLINE?

The economy is developed by the private sector, not the government. Livelihoods are improved by the people themselves, not the government. The government is not an employer, but an institution that has the duty to provide equal opportunities for the private sector and allow them to create jobs.

The number of state-owned companies is rising in Mongolia, and they are receiving more soft loans from the government while the deficits they run are being made up for by the public funds. This means that the government is forcefully doing what the private sector should do,  and is spending its capital on the parasites instead of focusing on more critical items. The government is now increasingly involved in the economy, setting prices for consumer products and imposing restrictions. It is neither possible nor sustainable to continue the apartment mortgage program, price stabilization initiatives, and the agreement to fix the price of fuel. On top of that, the costs to continue these programs is too high.

Market equilibrium is not achieved by decisions made by the government, but a system involving real prices, profits, and costs. It is only economies following these principles that experience the least amount of problems.

Mongolia will not be able to overcome its economic decline without making structural changes to our economy, allowing the market to set prices and making public governance transparent.

Translate by B.Amar

Link to article

Back to Headlines

UNICEF Director speaks about children's rights in Mongolia

By Kristine De Leon

November 9 (UB Post) In October, UNICEF Director of East Asia and the Pacific Region, Karin Hulshof, visited Mongolia's UNICEF office to meet with members of Parliament, representatives of the private sector, as well as members of the academic community. The UB Post spoke with Hulshof to discuss the goals of her visit, as well as her assessment of the current situation of Mongolia's children and the government's commitment to support and invest in children.

A highlight of Karin Hulshof's visit was to assess UNICEF's ongoing initiative, called "Children and environmental change in Mongolia", and encourage participation from national stakeholders, including children and communities, and international experts to cultivate a coordinated approach to mitigate the damaging effects of air pollution.

What are your thoughts on the government's accountability to implement the new child protection legislation?

The adoption of the Law on Child Protection is a good thing for Mongolia and for the country's children. It is a significant step that should contribute to the fulfillment of every child's right to protection from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, and to strengthening the national child protection system. UNICEF is particularly pleased to see that it prohibits physical and humiliating punishment of children in all settings including schools, institutions and homes. Of course, to be fully effective this law must form part of a system of law and practice. Evidence clearly shows that experiencing, or even witnessing, domestic violence frequently has a significant negative impact on children's development, so the adoption of the draft Law on Combating Domestic Violence and the amendments to the Criminal Code will also be important to children. The new child protection law is an important first step that we hope will be supported by the adoption of other laws that are essential for the protection of children and the consistent implementation of these laws. UNICEF stands ready to support the important work the Mongolian government has commenced for the protection of children.

According to the UNICEF report, Mongolia was among the very first countries to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child. How does Mongolia compare to the other East Asian and Pacific countries in terms of their commitment to make its principles and provisions?

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a landmark for children and their rights and Mongolia was one of the first countries to ratify this important international treaty. A committee of experts – the Committee on the Rights of the Child – monitors countries' implementation of the fundamental rights outlined in the convention. Mongolia submitted its fifth report to that committee this year. In previous reports, the experts on the committee have noted with appreciation that Mongolia had addressed many important issues related to children and achieved impressive progress for children, including significant reductions in child mortality, nearly universal coverage of vaccination, almost universal antenatal care, high gross enrolment rate in basic and secondary education and a considerable decrease in monetary poverty rates. There are other areas where the rights of Mongolia's children are still not realized. Mongolia is a country that is rich in natural resources, but experiencing a severe economic crisis at present. During this crisis, it will be important to ensure that basic social services, especially for children, are adequately and sustainably financed so these achievements are not lost. It will also be important to make special efforts to ensure that the benefits of Mongolia's progress are experienced by all children, even the most disadvantaged and the hardest to reach. At present, there are still some geographic areas where children are not seeing the full benefits of Mongolia's development and income disparities still make a big difference to children's access to clean water and safe sanitation, health and education. These are certainly some of the areas that we would like to see addressed as matters of priority.

What are your thoughts regarding the government's decision to change the distribution of the Children's Money to only support targeted groups?

In the past, UNICEF commended the government's commitment to making the Child Money Program "universal" through its plan for action. A universal approach is a good way to maximize child protection and reduce the risk of children who need it are not receiving benefits. It also helps avoid children being stigmatized. At the same time, UNICEF recognizes the challenges in providing universal coverage when funds are scarce. All around the world, UNICEF advocates for progressive realization, working with countries to identify and build the best possible mix of interventions that will help the most children in need. Whatever that mix is, it must ensure that children in need receive the maximum possible help. A temporary suspension of universality is understandable, as long as the new system ensures that the children who most need help receive it. Evidence shows that the best way to be certain of this is to provide universal coverage, so we would strongly believe the universality of the program should resume as soon as humanly possible.

How will UNICEF help to bridge Mongolia's current child trends and disparities given this time of political uncertainty and economic downturn?

UNICEF has been operating for years in countries affected by economic crisis and we provide governments with evidence-based technical advice and support to minimize the impact on children of economic slumps. One thing we argue for strongly is the maintenance, or where possible even an increase, of social expenditures when times are tough. This might seem counter intuitive, but there is a great deal of evidence to show that the most disadvantaged suffer more when services are cut, and that the negative consequences for children of reduced access to education, health and other services, are irreversible, so the children never catch up again. If the gains in the realization of children's and women's rights and long-term national development that Mongolia has achieved are not to be lost, social spending has to be a high priority. In times of economic turmoil, some programs are even more effective in helping children who would otherwise be in trouble. Quick-impact social protection initiatives such as cash transfers to households, among other measures, become more important and deliver excellent results. Other programs UNICEF has been introducing are low cost and high impact, like cost-effective sanitation models and integrated health and nutrition approaches, exclusive breastfeeding, or parenting skills. These can make a big difference, and they do not require large amounts of funds.

With a growing presence in the private sector in Mongolia, what kind of relationship does UNICEF hope to develop with the private sector? How will UNICEF advocate for mining companies to support a safer world for Mongolia's children?

UNICEF's engagement with private sector in Mongolia is about positive business behavior and practices as they affect children. For children to receive the support they need and that they have a right to, many partners, including companies, governments, civil society, children and young people, must work together. This applies to the mining industry as it does elsewhere.

UNICEF's role is to seek to help mining companies understand how their operations impact on children and to encourage them to make sure those impacts are positive – to the benefit of children. Children are more vulnerable to the impacts of large scale mining than adults, so special attention to their needs and the risks they face are absolutely necessary.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

There's no business like politics

November 4 (UB Post) The government is responsible for providing people with services at lower costs and without thinking about profits. Some officers and employees working in the public sector don't own up to their responsibilities, because they put themselves first, despite being public servants.

All politicians claim that public services have to be clear, transparent, accountable, and non-bureaucratic, but these claims aren't being put into practice. When someone has to get state paperwork, they need to meet with countless officials. Mongolians call it "chasing work". It is not a sarcastic expression now, but maybe it was a few decades ago. Now it is an accurate description. Unfortunately, we are still bogged down in bureaucratic systems.

During a parliamentary session, Member of Parliament U.Enkhtuvshin placed the blame for bureaucracy on the Law on Civil Service Councils. He said, "When a state organization needs to hire an official or employee, the head of the organization or another senior officer looks for a person who has a connection to them to hire someone for the position. And then they require that applicants have the qualifications, experience, and other essential requirements for the job, so it is not a transparent process to select a new employee for public service."

A lot of people join political parties to work for politicians, and many business owners contribute a lot of money to political parties to buy favors or to secure appointments for themselves, or for getting their children good government positions. Their funds flow through election campaigns.

They get into good governmental offices, but they are unqualified for them. Instead of serving the public, they spend their time in office blaming their predecessors for current difficulties and speaking on behalf of populism.

When Mongolia's third president, N.Enkhbayar, was an MP, he said that he wanted to allocate budgets for political parties to change this political system, but it didn't happen. The existing system of nepotism and donor influence can be very beneficial to people with good connections or a lot of money.

After winning a majority of seats in Parliament, the ruling political party always dismisses state officials to replace them with their supporters. A mass dismissal of state officials happened after the 2000, 2012, and 2016 elections.

It is not the government that makes this business model successful, but a board of people within the government, an unofficial board. These decision makers find their way into public service to see a return on the money they have spent on backing political parties. They have no aspirations to serve the public. They don't believe that government officials are representatives of their electorate, that they should provide people with the public services they want.

When they come into office, they study opportunities for profit by granting state tenders to their silent partners. They don't want to continue the work of their predecessors, and they tell the public that their opposing party's policies were not steady or robust. Many people feel that politicians are synonymous with selfishness and ego, because they don't fulfill
their promises to their constituents.

In 2004, a few days after the Democratic Party (DP) said it would be giving 10,000 MNT a month to every Mongolian child up until the age of 18, the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) claimed they would distribute 500,000 MNT to all newlyweds and give parents 100,000 MNT for the birth of a new child. The MPP won 36 seats in the legislature and the DP got 34 seats, and they fulfilled their financial vows made during the election by forming a joint Cabinet.

In the 2008 parliamentary election, when the DP claimed they would distribute one million MNT to every citizen if they won the election, the MPP said the DP's proposal was unrealistic and that the math simply didn't work. Unbelievably, after a few days, the MPP claimed that it was possible for everybody to receive 1.5 million MNT with a vote for their party.

The MPP won 48 percent of the seats in Parliament in that election and the DP won 44 percent, because they made political moves to win favor in the election by promising voters a lot of money. The two parties worked together for four years, and a lot of money was scattered before the 2012 elections.

The politicians from both parties knew that giving voters money would put pressure on the economy, but they would do anything to gain votes. Some observers believe that these policies put forward by the two dominant parties are responsible for the current economic challenges Mongolians face.

In a speech given by former British Prime Minister David Cameron, he said that politics is show business for ugly people and got big laughs from the audience. Maybe what he said is true. A small country with strong neighbors, like Mongolia, really needs to carry out a consistently strong political system, one not subject to arbitrary policies every four years.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Business

Cabinet backs ratifying amendments to Marrakesh Agreement on WTO

Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) At its regular meeting Wednesday, the cabinet considered a bill on ratifying the additional protocol on amending the Marrakesh Agreement on Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO), and resolved to submit the bill to the Parliament.

The amendments were ratified by 89 members out of the total 164 parties to the Marrakesh Agreement.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

N.Uchral: Mongolia has an opportunity to export intellectual property

By B. Dulguun

November 4 (UB Post) The following is an interview with Member of Parliament N.Uchral about upcoming parliamentary sessions and other timely issues.

The fall recess of Parliament has ended and MPs are getting back to work. The most important task will be to approve the next year's budget amendment. Overall, how accurate is the draft fiscal budget for 2017?

Fiscal saving can't simply be made by cutting one specific spending. Opposition is inevitable when you try to decrease additional costs, supplies and social welfare budget that have already been approved and are being carried out. Besides cutting unnecessary and inefficient costs, it's necessary to take structural measures to efficiently reduce budgetary spending. Instead of arbitrarily spending taxpayers' money, there must be a norm and limit.

Just like all products have norms and standards, budgetary expenditure has a norm as well. In my opinion, next year's budget is quite problematic in some areas. A very small example of this is the fact that 10 million MNT has been projected for a sports competition of a small organization with 62 staff. Yet, an organization with 526 people had allocated 7.7 million MNT for their sports competition. As I observed, establishing a norm without discriminating between government officials and nongovernment workers is very crucial and urgent.

When the economy isn't in a good shape, we must have budgetary discipline. Yet, budgets of some ministries and agencies have increased. I'm sure each organization has its reasons but still, we are in need of a norm for enforcing budgetary discipline.

One key part of the Mongolia People's Party (MPP)'s action plan is to resolve the issues of schools operating in three shifts and improve the availability of schools. Yet, the new state budget doesn't include investment for constructing new schools and kindergartens, right?

Additional investment hasn't been specified in the budget. However, financing for quite a few schools and kindergartens will be resolved through concessional loans. The government specified that every school operating in three shifts nationwide will be assisted in transferring to a two shift operation. In the future, not a single school will operate in three shifts in Mongolia. Songinokhairkhan District, from which I was elected from, has 10 schools that operation in three shifts. Within the next two years, we will ensure that these schools operate in two shifts so new schools and kindergartens will be built. A list of schools and kindergartens to be built through concessional loans was approved at the Cabinet meeting.

There are schools that operate in four shifts in Songinokhairkhan District such as School No.62, which has no choice but to operate like this because there aren't any other schools in 23rd khoroo of this district. A school expansion building, with a capacity for 450 children, will be built this year through a concessional loan to moderate the workload. It was also decided that a school and kindergarten complex will be constructed in 23rd khoroo of Songinokhairkhan District. But I heard that a lawsuit is currently underway in relation to this matter. I'm trying to fix this matter as soon as I can to begin constructing the complex.

I'm also trying to build a kindergarten for 120 children in 29th khoroo of Songinokhairkhan District through concessional loan. All that's left is land permit related issues. Land clearing will be resolved after discussion with the district administration.

If related problems are resolved, I believe that the availability of schools and kindergartens will improve. Moreover, 60 percent of children who are unable to attend kindergartens reside in our district. The issue concerning the unavailability of kindergartens and schools will be settled nationwide if more education facilities are built in our district. Because children are unable to go to kindergartens, more and more mothers are staying at home and quitting their jobs. This reduces the household income.  Household income of Mongolians has declined for the second time in history this year. Kindergarten related issues influenced the most on this. Therefore, solutions for these issues are urgently needed.

Sixty percent is a large chunk. Parents started sending their children to child care service facilities. The government is trying to stop this service next year. What's your stance on this?

There are many faults and shortcomings in the child care service. For instance, there isn't a standard for the building, leading most child care services to be conducted in cold, unhealthy and dirty environments that don't meet standards. Therefore, this service will be resumed as part of the Stay-at-Home Mothers Program, which financially supports mothers staying at home and looks after their children.

In other words, only the form of child care services has changed, making mothers look after their children. This doesn't mean that the child care service is being completely discarded or that the government is ignoring unemployed mothers or those without a source of income. The Stay-at-Home Mothers Program has been included in the government action plan so it will be launched shortly.

The ruling party seems to be taking various measures to stimulate the economy. Prime Minister J.Erdenebat and Minister of Finance B.Choijinsuren visited the USA and discussed the possibility of implementing the Stand-By Program. Do you think it's a good solution for stabilizing the economy?

We're about to pay 6.6 trillion MNT for loan services. This figure exceeds Mongolia's budget revenue. It's challenging to settle this type of situation so the government is considering all possible options and one of them is the Stand-By Program.

The Stand-By Arrangement has high requirements. This means that we will be pressured into cancelling as many welfare policies as possible. The budget policy will become way too strict, which might put a lot of pressure on the public. Even so, it has its merits. It will enforce budget discipline, increase responsibilities and save on unnecessary spending, and open opportunities to recover the economy within a short period as it provides a loan with a low interest rate.

In the past, our nation achieved to rapidly grow the economy by joining the Stand-By Arrangement. There's no reason not to joint it if the other side sets reasonable requirements. But if the requirements are too high, it will become very difficult for the public to make ends meet this time when wages, pensions and benefits aren't increasing. The government is in a position to immediately join the Stand-By Arrangement if flexible requirements are set.

Another option is to release a bond ourselves. In other words, it means that bond loans will be repaid with another bond. Or else, it's impossible to repay the national debt with the current budget revenue. Right now, there isn't any other way. Even so, Mongolia must follow a neutral state administration policy. It's not right for a nation to take out large loans.

It has almost been 100 days since the new government was formed. How do you evaluate the new government's work so far?

The reason the public elected the MPP is because they trusted the MPP's action plan. Approximately, 97 to 98 percent of their action plan was reflected in the government action plan. MPs must supervise the implementation of the action plan. The government already launched the Stay-at-Home Mothers Program, Nasnii Khishig Program, Education Loan Fund, and measures to reduce corporate taxes. Starting the implementation of the government action plan in less than three months' time is a huge advantage.

A draft legislation to support local producers by reducing corporate income tax to one percent in four sectors is currently under discussion. Why was the reduction specified for only four fields?

The government expects to increase jobs with the new draft bill to support producers by minimizing corporate income tax to one percent in four sectors. This is also part of the government action plan to be implemented in the next four years. However, there isn't an estimate on how many new jobs will become available. Officials say job vacancies will double but it carries the risk of companies becoming smaller. Personally, I don't support production of construction materials because the companies that barely managed to become large corporations may have to downsize to earn an income of less than 1.5 billion MNT (annually). The smaller factories become, the worse the quality of products becomes.

As for agriculture, it is a field that receives abundant assistance and support from the state. If they receive incentives, they shouldn't receive benefits. It's wrong to receive both incentives and benefits. Instead, the state should promote the export of intellectual property. Mongolians are capable of producing and exporting new, creative and profitable intellectual property if the government supports the IT sector more. The IT sector should be eligible for the incentive on corporate income tax.

Link to interview

Back to Headlines

USD loan holders file suit against government

November 4 (UB Post) Members of the 218.1 National Movement held a press conference at the National Press Center on November 2, announcing that Mongolians holding USD loans will be taking the government to court.

The movement's goal is to protect the rights of citizens who have taken out USD loans. The members of the movement say that due to the dramatic depreciation of the MNT, people with USD loans are now being required to repay their loans at current exchange rates and incurring significant financial losses.

Speaking at the press conference was State Honored Singer Ts.Tuvshintugs, who reported that he had taken out a 24,000 USD loan from Khas Bank in 2011. The exchange rate at that time was 1,271 MNT against USD. Tuvshintugs stated that due to the devaluation of the MNT in the last five years, he hasn't been able to start repaying the loan, only its interest. According to him, the contract was ambiguous in how the currency exchange rate would be taken into account, and as a result, he has been forced to pay excessive interest. Tuvshintugs has since filed a case to with the Sukhbaatar District Court.

In article 218.1 of the Civil Code, it is stated that any loans that are issued in foreign currency shall be paid back according to the exchange rate on record on the day that the loan agreement was signed. The movement was named after this specific article, and its members claim that Mongol Bank and commercial banks have not abided by the Civil Code.

Economist and member of the 218.1 National Movement T.Bayarkhuu spoke with Zuunii Medee after the press conference.

You recently held a press conference regarding the depreciation of the MNT and the losses it has caused for people with USD loans. How many people have reached out to you? What are the total losses looking like?

The most important thing is the security of our national currency. Because the MNT has depreciated, the nation is being held hostage by USD loans. In the last 26 years, there have been deliberate efforts to depreciate the MNT. In 1990, the exchange rate was 50 MNT. Now it is 2,400 MNT. That is almost 50 times the amount it was in 1990. There have been deliberate efforts to devalue the MNT. This can be attributed to the global financial imperialism policy that has been affecting the world. Segueing from that, I would like to say thatVladimir Lenin and Karl Marx were brilliant thinkers and ideologists. Their ideologies were insufficient in practice. Still, they saw this coming. There is a quote by Lenin, "Imperialism is the last step of capitalism." Even Lenin wasn't able to fully realize this idea. If imperialism is the last step of capitalism, then financial imperialism is the last step of imperialism. Many other researchers and thinkers have agreed with this. I did not create this. We are being controlled by the big banks that control the dollar, the euro, and the pound. Mongolia has been ripped off for the last 26 years. Due to this, we are losing our land. We have practically become beggars, buying vegetable oil by the gram and being held down by loans. The loans have taken a hard toll on people. When people are stressed, society follows suit. When society is in crisis, the government follows suit. They make the wrong decisions and always do the wrong thing. This is the situation we are in currently.

If we have legislation regarding loans, why isn't it enforced?

Banks can influence laws; they can even stop their enforcement. If they didn't, 70 percent of their profit would be gone. The banks also pressure people into taking out loans and then give them high interest rates. This systematic oppression by commercial banks needs to stop. This is robbery. The saddest part is that the government is not able to regulate this. They even support it in some ways. Former President of Mongol Bank N.Zoljargal was cooperating with commercial banks in this robbery. Currently, loans total one billion USD. At its peak, this number has been three to four billion USD. Current economic hardships can be attributed to the dramatic swing in the exchange rate. The people are in debt because of this.

So, it has become clear that people with USD loans cannot pay them back due to the swing in the currency exchange. However, there are people who have taken out MNT loans who have not been able to pay them back. What is the reason for this?

Our 218.1 movement was created in order to free Mongolia from its debts. What this means is that even though we have started our struggle against USD loans, we will be addressing MNT debts in the future. People not being able to repay their loans is not only caused by the depreciation of the MNT, but the increase in prices for heating, electricity, commodities, and services in the market. This can be attributed to the government not doing its job, resulting in inflation. Therefore, the people should not be responsible for the inflation and currency depreciation that has happened in the last four years. The government should be held responsible.

How can Mongolians get out of this debt?

We need to elect a president, prime minister, and parliament members that can be held ac-
countable and will implement the correct financial policy. These people should be held accountable if Parliament passes a bad law. Accountability is the way that we can get out of this. If politicians are held accountable, there won't be as many characters running for office. A few might slip through the cracks, but overall, we can have politicians who can be held accountable. After this is done, we need to quickly amend four or five laws regarding banking and finance.

For example?

First, the law regarding Mongol Bank. Second, the law regarding commercial banks. Third, the law regarding the exclusive use of MNT on Mongolian soil. Fourth would be the law regarding savings. Fifth, the foreign trade and foreign currency law. I have drafted amendments to these laws. However, I have no intention of giving them to today's politicians.

Why?

These politicians who quarrel amongst themselves cannot be trusted. Also, if we implement something incompletely, it could be disastrous, like the mortgage loans that started being issued ten years ago. The people who took out those loans are still in debt, and even when they have paid their loan off, they are being threatened with eviction. For this reason, we must start the process to change the laws when politicians can be held accountable.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Parliament ratifies financial agreement with World Bank on Export Oriented Project

Ulaanbaatar, November 4 (MONTSAME) The financial agreement on the Project on Promoting Exports, aiming at strengthening economic competitiveness of non-extractive industries and encouraging the exports, was ratified at today's plenary session of the State Great Khural (Parliament).

The financial agreement has been signed by the Government of Mongolia, the World Bank and the International Development Association.

The project is funded with the World Bank's soft loan of USD 20 million with 1.25% annual interest rate.

The bill on ratifying the financial agreement was backed with 75.5 percent approval.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Prime Minister urges Tavan Tolgoi miners to cooperate

Ulaanbaatar, November 7 (MONTSAME) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat gave a concrete task for a certain period of time to the companies, operating Tavantolgoi mine, reports the Premier's spokesperson G.Otgonbayar. The head of government insisted the companies to reach an agreement for the common goal of protecting the "Mongolian Coal" brand name, otherwise the Government will intervene.

The Erdenes Tavantolgoi, the Energy Resource and the Tavantolgoi are operating coal mines. The PM noted, regardless who is operating the mine, the Tavantolgoi coal is a property of the Mongolian people. However, the coal industry has been going unprofitable over the past several years due to the series of attempts by the three companies to drag each other's prices down, he said.

He gave a serious warning to the companies that the Government might consider a price arrangement on the stable commercialization of the Tavantolgoi coal.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia's Top State Coal Miner Aims to Double Exports Next Year

By Michael Kohn

November 10 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's largest state-run coal miner plans to raise prices and double exports in 2017 in a bid to capitalize on a near tripling in the price of the raw material.

"We are looking to pay back all our debts by next year, and increase our exports to 14 or 15 million tons,'' said Ariunbold Dorj, chief executive officer of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC. ETT supplies coal to Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., or Chalco, from its East Tsankhi pit as payment for a $350 million loan in 2011, which the government handed out as cash to its citizens. Chalco currently pays $33 a metric ton for  unwashed coal at the mine gate, a level decided on a quarterly basis.

Ariunbold expects that to rise to $40 or even $50 a ton at the start of 2017, he said Wednesday in an interview in Ulaanbaatar. By opening up ETT's second, West Tsankhi pit, within six weeks, the company will be able to sell coal that isn't contractually tied to Chalco on the open market, Ariunbold said. Following a long slump, coking coal has almost tripled this year as China cut production, with most of the gains coming in the last two months.

It's a potential boon for Mongolian companies that have struggled to turn a profit in recent years from the nation's vast resources of coal. Its neighbor's slowdown has fueled an economic crisis, which has led the Mongolian government to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

Settle Balance

ETT has exported 6 million tons of coal this year and expects to reach 7 million by Jan. 1. Its debt to Chalco is now about $85 million, said Ariunbold, and the 48-year-old executive, appointed in September, reckons that if prices rise the balance can be settled by July.

"The main hindrance for not selling at the current market price is the agreement with Chalco," he said. "That is the reason for our prices lagging behind the market.''

Other companies sell their coal for closer to $100 a ton, he said, wringing greater value by washing their product and delivering it closer to the Chinese border. As such, coal companies operating in the Tavan Tolgoi basin are exploring the possibility of a unified price that would require their coal is washed prior to export, said Ariunbold.

The so-called one-window policy is being held up by disagreements over pricing, he said. On a recent visit to the area, Prime Minister Erdenebat Jargaltulga said the government would consider fixing the price if the parties failed to agree on their own.

Past governments have floated the idea of an initial public offering of ETT shares. That's still possible for 2018, Ariunbold said, even as Mongolia pursues a parallel track of negotiating to develop the mine with an international consortium.

(BN)

Back to Headlines

Mongolia Seeks to Revive Shenhua Talks for Tavan Tolgoi Railway

By Micheal Kohn

November 7 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia seeks to revive talks with China Shenhua Energy to develop railway connecting Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit with Chinese border, Ganbat Dangaa, Minister of Roads and Transportation, says Friday in interview in Ulaanbaatar.

* Negotiations with Shenhua expected to resume this month after delay of more than a year: Ganbat

* NOTE: Mongolia has proposed it retain 51 percent ownership of railway, with Shenhua holding the rest

* Railway and development of Tavan Tolgoi mine to be combined as one project: Ganbat

* NOTE: Shenhua one of three cos in consortium negotiating to develop mine

* Mongolia will look to pay for its portion of the railway via funding from development lenders such as Export-Import Bank of China or Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: Ganbat

* Railway could increase deliveries to 30 mln tons a year, from current max. of around 17 mln tons: Ganbat

* NOTE: Coal surge leaves China grappling with runaway market

* 40-km spur that would connect Oyu Tolgoi mine could potentially carry 2 mln tons of copper concentrate a year: Ganbat

* Beijing-based spokesman at Shenhua didn't answer calls to his office seeking comment; co. didn't immediately respond to e-mailed questions.

* NOTE: Ganbat took up position in July after Mongolian People's Party swept to power with mandate to address economy's deterioration

* "It has been 13 years since we started talking about this project and we cannot wait any longer:" Ganbat

* NOTE: Mongolia's debt-to-GDP seen doubling by 2018

(BFW)

Back to Headlines

Shenhua Energy expresses readiness to collaborate on major projects

Ulaanbaatar, November 11 (MONTSAME) State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Davaasuren received the representatives of China Shenhua Energy Company Limited, led by the chairman of Board, Mr Lu Bing on November 10.

The State Secretary informed the guests of the commitment of the Government of Mongolia to fulfill its platform of actions, with special accent on the essential economic sectors – mining, infrastructure and constructions.

In turn, Mr Lu Bing, while noting China and Mongolia are important partners for each other, expressed willingness on behalf of his company to cooperate with the Mongolian government on major construction projects.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia-China Council on Minerals, Energy and Infrastructure formed

Ulaanbaatar, November 10 (MONTSAME) The cabinet approved the composition of Mongolia-China Joint Council on Mineral Resources, Energy and Infrastructure. The Deputy Prime Minister will chair the Mongolian side of the council.

The first meeting is scheduled in Beijing next month. The related ministers will develop guidance the Mongolian part will adhere to at negotiations and the agenda as a whole.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

National company making eco-fuel from Khushuut coal

Ulaanbaatar, November 4 (MONTSAME) It has been over a year, since the Nomin Shiltgeen Construction LLC's daily production of eco-coal-fuel reached 160-200 ton. The waste-free environmentally friendly coal fuel with high combustion level is delivered to the customers in customized bags, which can be resold to the factory for MNT 100.

The fuel factory is based on the Khushuut coal mine, located in Darvi soum of Khovd province, and offers free delivery for the customers purchase of more than a ton of fuel.

The sales managers noted the eco-fuel has been well marketed through ordering system, but has been facing a challenge due to the lack of stalls on the black markets.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia wants to launch its casino market

The Asian country is trying to revive a legislation to legalise the casino industry

Mongolia, November 11 (Focus Gaming News) - After almost two decades of trying to legalise the casino industry, Mongolia is back on track to try to launch its own market. According to UlanMedia, the Government is currently in the process of reviving a legislation.

The plan that the government has in mind consists of reviving a legislation that would authorize a racetrack and a casino near the border with Buryatia, which is a federal subject to Russia.If it gets passed, there's a possibility that the country could welcome more casinos near the international airport of Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital, as well as the district near the border with China, Zamyn-Üüd, and in Altanbulag village, which is near the Russian town Kyakhta.

This attempt of pushing a legislation is certainly not the first one for Mongolia, since it's been trying to launch the gambling market since 1997. Earlier last year Mongolia's Cabinet Secretariat approved a draft legislation that would have authorised two casinos operated by the Australian company Frontier Capital Group.

One of the main reasons why mongolia hasn't been able to legalise the casino industry is because they're still not sure how to face the fact that they don't want local residents to be able to gamble. That's why all the projects are located near the borders with other countries, such as China and India, two nations that also have limitations to their residents.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Government approves percentage of foreign labor force and specialists

November 10 (gogo.mn) The Government of Mongolia approved the percentage of labor force and specialists to receive from abroad in legal entities operating in Mongolia for 2017. 

The percentage of foreign labor force and specialists in legal entities is set to be up to 5% of the total number of their employees. Labour and Social Welfare Department will grant the permission for the foreigners up to 50% and permission for more than 50% of foreign labor force and specialists shall be discussed by the Government of Mongolia. 

As of Oct 2016, total of 11072 foreigners were working in Mongolia, which dropped by 33 percent compared to the previous year. 

According to the Law on Sending Labor Force Abroad and Receiving Labor Force and Specialists from Abroad, monthly workplace amount is equal to 2 times of the minimum wage per foreign citizen. Such payment is MNT 192,000. 

Employment Promotion Fund earned MNT 43 billion in 2015 and it has projected to earn MNT 37.8 billion this year while MNT 12 billion was concentrated as of Oct 2016.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Gobi JSC introduces a new luxury brand "YAMA"

November 10 (gogo.mn) Yama, a new luxury brand was born in Mongolian cashmere clothes industry. Famous Italian fashion designer designed the first collection of the Yama brand, introduced by the Gobi JSC. 

The word Yama, meaning goat in Mongolian and it defines the peak of the mountain in Japanese. World acknowledged Gobi brand released the Yama brand, aiming to produce luxury cashmere products and move to the next level. Therefore, Gobi JSC worked with Italian fashion designer with 20 years of experience on the first collection of its new brand.

Yama Cashmere, which aims to provide sense of luxury to their customer is being sold at the Shangri-La Mall, Ulaanbaatar.

The first collection of Yama brand named "Poetry of nature" is a classic and focuses on the colors being trend in recent years.

The first fashion show of Yama brand was held at Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar on Nov 4.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

"Ugalz" sheepskin seat cover - proudly produced in Mongolia

November 3 (gogo.mn) "Ugalz" sheepskin seat cover went on sale on Nov 1 and caught the attention of many. The sheepskin seat cover will not give out a smell due to it is processed with special technology. Also, hair loss will not occur. 

We interviewed with M.Undrakh, CEO, Darkhan Dush LLC, the producer of "Ugalz" sheepskin seat cover. He is a marketing manager by profession and started his business jointly with his friend.

-Would you give us more information on "Ugalz" sheepskin seat cover? I have heard that your product caught many drivers attention. 

-Our company is producing two types of sheepskin seat covers. One of them is made with Turkish technology and the other one is produced using traditional technology. Mongolian sheepskin is perfect for keeping the heat during the cold weather. Everyone knows that sheepskin products are warm, healthy and makes a favorable impression for people. That is why we started our business.

-How about the sales?

-Honestly, we have not expected such a high demand. Product sales is going pretty well from the first day to the market. Many people, willing to buy our product are contacting to us. Our finished products are likely to finish soon and we might receive orders. 

-How about the price?

-Front pair seat covers made with Turkish technology is MNT 250,000, and single seat cover is MNT 130,000. Front pair seat covers made with traditional technology is MNT 150,000 and single seat cover is MNT 80,000. We would like to highlight the Turkish technology. Because there is no other products made with using Turkish technology are available in Mongolia. We are the first. 

-When did you get the idea of your product?

-We have found the idea one month before and started to develop the business plan. The first product has released after production process. 

-Customers say that the price is quite high. Tell me more on the cost of your products?

-We process per sheepskin by MNT 20,000. We have to process 3.5 sheepskin for one pair of seat covers. Moreover, sheepskin tailor is hard to find. Thus, we pay high salary for tailors and there are many other expenses we need to cover. However, people tend to think that our product is expensive not even thinking about the cost. People should understand that we take profit from many products, not from only one product.

-How many employees there are? 

-We have more than 20 employees. We offer delivery service to the customers even they are not planned to buy our products. People should feel free to call us and feel the quality of our product. 

-Drivers need steering wheel cover during the cold weather. What is your next product?

-We have planned to produce more products including steering wheel cover. In addition, now we produce only covers for front seats. We have planned to produce covers for back seats in further. We are not yet produced the next product due to our sales has just started a day ago. Also, we need more sheepskin tailor. If any sheepskin tailor read the interview, please contact us. 

-"Ugalz" seat cover is a seasonal business. What will you do after winter? Could you tell me your future goal?

-Of course, product sales will drop when warm weather approaches. At that time, we will produce other products made with sheepskin. Also, we are aiming to export sheepskin. Mongolian sheepskin has ammonia smell. But the Turkish technology that we use filtrates oil from the sheepskin and eliminates the smell. 

Australia has high demand of sheepskin rug. Thus, we have an opportunity to export our sheepskin products. We will try our best to sell Mongolian sheepskin to the world market.

For more information on "Ugalz" seat cover, please click HERE or contact at 7777-9797. 

Link to interview

Back to Headlines

Business opportunities in Mongolia presented in Singapore

Ulaanbaatar, November 4 (MONTSAME) The Mongolian Embassy and the International Enterprise (IE) Singapore successfully co-organized an event themed "Mongolia Business and Investment Internationalisation and Opportunities" on November 3, which brought together more than a hundred businesspeople.

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia, T.Lkhagvadorj gave a presentation on "Mongolian government's economic policies and actions", General Manager for Business Development of APIP Company N.Gerelsaikhan – "Real estate businesses and investment environment in Mongolia", founder and executive director of Mongolia-Singapore joint Mindset College B.Galbadrakh presented the New Batsumber Soum project. A founder of Mindset College, Mr Chong Fook Yen shared his investment experience in Mongolia.

During the open discussion following the presentations, the guests expressed interests in investing in Mongolia.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

UAE companies to join int'l expo in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, November 8 (MONTSAME) Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs B.Battsetseg received the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah Al-Tinij on November 4. Ms B.Battsetseg underlined the opening of embassy in Ulaanbaatar was an important step towards boosting our ties.

She emphasized a significance of stimulating bilateral economic cooperation, drawing investment from the Emirates to Mongolia and encouraging business contacts between private sectors.

The Ambassador informed of his work back in his country a few days ago while stressing that companies of the UAE are interested in taking part in the International Trade Fair, to be held in Ulaanbaatar in April of 2017. He proposed to open Mongolian pavilion at the Global Village exhibition hall.

He also confirmed the UAE's invitation for Mongolia to Participate the World Expo, to take place in Dubai in 2020.

Mongolia and the United Arab Emirates established diplomatic relations on the 1st of April of 1996, and the UAE opened its embassy  in Ulaanbaatar on the 24th of February of 2016.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Good harvest: domestic flour and potato demand met

November 7 (news.mn) This year, the Mongolian harvest was relatively good. The statistics are as follows: 460.7 thousand tonnes of wheat were harvested, 153.7 thousand tonnes of potatoes, and 93.5 thousand tonnes of other vegetables. This means that Mongolia fully meets domestic flour and potato demand and half that for vegetables, according to statement by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

Nearly 320 thousand tonnes of wheat can provide Mongolian annual flour demand. Therefore, Mongolia will not have to import flour because of this year's good harvest.

Farmers and various companies have kept back 45.5 thousand of grain, National Emergancy Management Agency (NEMA) over 1300 tonnes and the Crop Farming Support Fund is holding 2000 tonnes for planting next year.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia and Laos to study feasibility of launching meat trade

Ulaanbaatar, November 9 (MONTSAME) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat received today the Ambassador of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mr Sialungon Seng. The PM thanked the Lao side for sending an extended delegation to the 11th ASEM Summit, which was held in Ulaanbaatar in July.

The Prime Minister touched upon leads-up to the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee to be held in Ulaanbaatar next year.

He also extended a request to the Lao authorities to study possibilities to realize arrangements which were discussed at a meeting with the Prime Minister of Laos during the ASEM Summit. The heads of governments namely focused on meat trade.

The Ambassador pledged his best efforts for promoting bilateral ties in every sector, and invited the Prime Minister to pay a visit to Laos in 2017 within the celebration of the 55th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mogi: former PM Altankhuyag's business

Sea buckthorn factory opens beside Khaan Jims resort

Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) The "Khuba Khaya" sea buckthorn factory opened on November 2. The factory was built with help of German engineering and outline and meets the European standards. It is expected to produce high quality products from seaberry for youthening and relieving stress, as well as beauty and nutritional products.

Sea buckthorn, which is proclaimed by Mongolians as the "King Berry", is richer in Vitamin E than grist, three times in Vitamin A than red carrot, and four times greater content superoxide dismutase than ginseng. The sea buckthorn oil is the only phytogenic source of fatty acids Omega 3,6,7 and 9.

The factory is located next to the "Khaan Jims" (King Berry) resort, the site supposedly was under a winter place of Chinggis Khaan.

Present at the opening ceremony were some members of parliament, heads of diplomatic missions, famous artists and athletes and businesspeople.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Taiwan offers to buy sea buckthorn from Mongolia

November 11 (gogo.mn) P.Sergelen, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry met with Taiwan`s Deputy Minister. Taiwan`s side has offered to buy a large amount of sea buckthorn from Mongolia. However, the amount of sea buckthorn, proposed by Taiwan exceeded the sea buckthorn harvest of our country. 

Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry developed "Sea buckthorn" program, to be implemented in the next four years, aiming to reduce poverty and provide employment opportunities to unemployed. Also, the program has planned to support sea buckthorn cultivation through small and medium-size enterprise loan.

The ministry has completed the first phase of activities for exporting sea bukcthorn to Europe in cooperation with affiliated French organizations. Currently, some enterprises export sea buckthorn oil to Japan and USA. 

A major international conference to discuss sea buckthorn cultivation and its demand will be held in Mongolia in 2016.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

ROK-China-Mongolia direct freight service launched

SHIJIAZHUANG, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- A direct sea and rail freight service between the Republic of Korea (ROK), China and Mongolia was launched Wednesday, cutting transport time by nearly half.

On Wednesday morning, a train carrying 100 containers departed from Qinhuangdao Port in north China's Hebei Province for Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, marking the opening of the new route, according to local customs.

Previously, containers from the ROK were transported by ships to Qinhuangdao Port, and then went through several train transfers before arriving in Ulan Bator. The new service allows the trains to travel directly to Ulan Bator, reducing the route by four days.

The train, with a designed volume of 100 standard containers, is scheduled to depart every Wednesday.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

ENGIE and Ferrostaal join forces in Mongolian wind farm project

November 6 (ENGIE) ENGIE, one of the world's energy leaders, and Ferrostaal, a leading global project developer and industrial service provider, have signed a joint development agreement to build and operate the Sainshand wind farm project, located in the Gobi Desert.

The project brings more than USD 100 million in foreign direct investment into Mongolia and is in line with the government's objective to evolve towards a greener economy and a better environment.

With a potential reduction of more than 200 tons of CO2 emissions per year, the Sainshand wind farm contributes to the country's ambitions to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 14 per cent.

This objective was defined by the Mongolian authorities in the Intended National Determined Contributions (INDC), as part of the Climate Change Agreement, which was negotiated at COP21 last year and which enters into force today, 4 November 2016.

The Sainshand wind farm will have a total installed capacity of 55 MW and will provide the equivalent of the electricity consumption of 130,000 people in Mongolia.

"We welcome ENGIE as a co-developer and sponsor of the Sainshand wind farm project. ENGIE brings extensive expertise in renewable energy, complementing Ferrostaal Group's long-standing capacity of project development, financing and industrial plant construction.

In this first collaboration, we combine our knowledge and expertise in bringing sustainable solutions to Mongolia," commented Dr. Oliver Schnorr, President of Ferrostaal Mongolia. "This project demonstrates that Mongolia welcomes private investment, from both Mongolian and foreign companies, in partnership with the public sector," he added.

Benoît Ribesse, Chief Executive Officer of ENGIE Mongolia, said: "Mongolia's energy system calls for new energy sources. We are committed to the country's modernization efforts in expanding its power generation infrastructure through sustainable energy sources.

As such, we are excited to be part of the Sainshand wind farm project, which is an important step in this direction. The renewable energy sector is evolving fast. Projects based on wind or solar are not only environmentally friendly, they are also becoming more and more economically sustainable thanks to recent innovations."

The Sainshand wind farm, located 450 km southeast of Ulaanbaatar nearby the Sainshand City, capital of Dornogobi Province, will boost the local and national economy through job creation, fiscal contributions and the supply of clean energy.

Construction is planned to start in 2017, with commissioning of the plant in the second half of 2018.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Renewable energy sector offers bright spot for Mongolia

November 10 (AsiaLaw) With intensely cold winters and deteriorating energy infrastructure, Mongolia is looking to renewable energy to help ween it off the need for energy imports from Russia and China. The government has used tax incentives and the investment law, enacted in 2012, to attract the outside money that will be necessary to achieve this and upgrade the power generation industry generally. However, investors should be aware of the political, legal, financial and employment obstacles to putting money into Mongolia.

Opportunities available

While they are only moving gradually, foreign investors are looking to Mongolia for opportunities in the power sector. "The government has been quite supportive of renewables and in the 2016-2020 action plan, the new government has added hydropower as another renewable energy source to support," says Battushig Batsuren, partner at GTs Advocates. "We've seen investors interested in renewables coming from various countries like Japan, Korea, China and Germany. Tax incentives for equipment and technology are available in addition to green tariffs for energy production. The investment law created in 2012 offers the same treatment between domestic and foreign companies. Compared to other countries, there is more unused land for renewable projects developments."

Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow in Singapore advised Newcom and Softbank Group, the sponsors of the development and financing of the construction of the 50 megawatts Tstesii wind farm in southern Mongolia, the country's latest renewable energy project and the second private sector wind farm in the country. The firm also successfully advised on the first wind farm in Mongolia in 2013. Allen & Overy's Tokyo office advised the lenders on the Tsetsii project. With the project being one of the earliest adopted in Mongolia, there are a number of obstacles that were faced, which investors can reflect upon when deciding to invest in Mongolia.

Political uncertainty

Part of the challenge comes from the risk of initiating a new project and unfamiliarity with bureaucrats. "There are four to five wind power projects on the horizon but I think only one is at an advanced stage of development," says Martin David, principal and head of the projects practice at Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow. "There is still a lot of uncertainty over the Mongolian economy which, when added to the arrival of a new government, has spooked institutional investors."

Dispute resolution mechanisms

Investors may be faced with potential jurisdictional problems in resolving disputes because of how some contracts are regarded in Mongolia. Under the General Administrative Law, certain contracts are deemed as administrative in nature and are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the administrative courts of Mongolia. "Under this scenario a power purchase agreement may be deemed an administrative agreement and any dispute under such a power purchase agreement may need to be settled at the administrative courts of Mongolia irrespective of the dispute resolution clause in the power purchase agreement providing for foreign arbitration," says Batsuren. "However, due to the recent enactment of the General Administrative Law it is not clear how Mongolian courts will view this."

"Dispute resolution is always a key issue for international investors and lenders to a developing country. Mongolia like many similar emerging markets is keen to develop its own courts and arbitration system and is keen for disputes to be resolved domestically," says David. This is not something the international investment world is generally willing to accept."

Lack of tariff guarantee

Another risk is the absence of government guarantees. "The Tstesii project didn't have a government guarantee for the obligations of the state utility to buy power but despite that it was considered bankable. This is a very positive message as many countries across Asia are not financeable without such a guarantee," says David.

Currency risk

Mongolia requires that all payments under contract be in local currency while investors favour more stable currencies. Mongolia has been hit hard in the past few years and with a tumbling currency, the country has had to raise the key interest rate to 15%. "Investors are faced with a currency exchange risk that prohibits conversion of the local currency into US dollars and this is a tricky issue when structuring agreements," says David. But plans to overcome this could be on the horizon. "The government and the Bank of Mongolia are planning to amend current currency laws so that companies can hedge currencies and there are plans to have contracts denominated in foreign currency in the government's 2016-2020 action plan," says Batsuren.

Capacity shortage

Even if there is investment flowing into the renewables sector, the hardware and software needed to make projects happen still need tweaking. "Depending on the project, foreign investors should be aware that there are certain quotas which require domestic workers to be employed," says Batsuren. "Right now the human capacity may not be enough to meet technical needs. The power grid infrastructure is also weak. But the government has signed economic partnership agreements with countries such as Japan, and most recently signed an investor protection agreement with Canada."

Looking ahead

It would be nice to think that once the wind farms and solar plants are built, demand will come. In reality, there is a limited energy need in Mongolia due to a low population, so to scale up the industry, a bigger plan is needed. "Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and China are talking about realising a plan to export renewables in Mongolia to other Asian countries by creating a pan-Asian supergrid," says Batsuren. "This has great potential for Mongolia."

With the availability of solar and wind potential in the Gobi desert, Mongolia's installed power generation capacity is only at 7% for renewables, so there is a big opportunity for the sector to develop. The country's low population could limit the development of the renewables sector, future investments in the industry may be buoyed by the success of private sector projects, if combined with more encouraging policies and incentives, and an optimistic but achievable roadmap towards a pan-Asian energy grid.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Talking Sheep Farming in Mongolia, Sweaters, and Strong Brands With Steven Alan and Naadam

November 4 (The New York Magazine) "It's a long story, but somehow I found myself stranded in Mongolia," Matthew Scanlan of Naadam Cashmere began yesterday evening as he recounted the origin of his business for an intimate gathering of style-hounds, hosted by New York Magazine for its new premium membership program — New York by New York — at Steven Alan's Chelsea store.

"I lived with a family for three weeks, and even though they didn't know me, they took care of me, fed me. I was so grateful and I spent that time learning about how they lived — how they survived in negative-40-degree weather." By the time he was able to get home to America he realized he wanted to help the people he'd met. He set up Gobi Revival Fund, an organization that provided veterinarian training to care for their livestock and manage water supplies. After a few years he realized he could also work with the herders and began importing their goods: A sweater company was born.

Steven Alan, whose many well-curated boutiques provide a certain subset of New York City with stylish, lasting basics, explained the appeal of Naadam's brand. "When I meet with a new designer, I look for a story behind the brand. I look for that certain quality that stands out — where you can tell it's not anybody else's sweater." 

While the audience was left to speculate on the rest of Scanlan's saga about spending three weeks with a nomadic tribe in Mongolia, the talk turned toward scaling small businesses and customer relationships. "I visit Mongolia at least two times a year," he explained about the close relationship with every step of the brand. He's looking into scaling his model of working with farmers directly to improve their quality of life — next time with Pima cotton.

Steven Alan was one of the first stores to sell the cashmere brand, which follows the pattern of many of the brands the boutique sells. Alan described his process for choosing whom to work with based on value proposition, "I'm not looking at price as much as I'm look for something that's a good value. If a leather jacket sells for $2,000 it should be something that could sell for, or might be worth, $4,000."

Link to article

Back to Headlines

He Went To The Desert With $3 Million In Cash—And Left With 150 Tons Of Cashmere

That was step one for a cofounder of Naadam, the startup trying to disrupt the cashmere supply chain and pay goat herders a fair wage.

November 10 (Fast Company) Last year, 28-year-old Matt Scanlan carried $2 million in cash, packed into flimsy plastic grocery bags, into the Gobi Desert.

He had transferred the money to a bank in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, but when he arrived after flying 20 hours from New York, he discovered that no single bank would give him all the money at once. So he shuttled around to six different locations where tellers gave him bags and bags of bundled-up cash. He proceeded to pack all of it into a land cruiser, to prepare for another 20 hours of driving along dusty dirt roads to get to goat herders who would sell him raw cashmere. "I packed them into the backseat of the car from floor to ceiling, all the way to the end of the car," Scanlan tells Fast Company. "You couldn't see out of the back window. It was just stacks of money."

Scanlan was on a mission. As cofounder and CEO of fashion company Naadam, he has been working to transform the cashmere supply chain by purchasing the wool directly from Mongolian herders, rather than through middlemen who inflate prices. Three years earlier, Scanlan had spent a month among the nomadic herders, experiencing their 3,000-year-old way of life, but saw that many herders were reluctantly moving to cities to take higher-paying mining jobs. To help those who wanted to preserve their traditional lifestyles, he set out to make tending to goats more lucrative by finding a way to pay them more.

But sometimes, disrupting supply chains requires taking drastic measures.

Scanlan did not set out to create a socially conscious fashion company. After graduating from NYU, he landed a job on Wall Street, but hated his work so much that two years into it, he decided to quit without another position lined up. The very next day, on a lark, he booked a flight to visit his college friend Diederik Rijsemus in Mongolia. (Rijsemus would later become his cofounder at Naadam.)

At their hostel, they happened to bump into an American journalist who was investigating the cashmere trade. "Turns out this guy grew up in the town next to mine in Connecticut," Scanlan says. "You can literally go to the other side of the world and still meet a guy from Fairfield, Connecticut?"

Scanlan and Rijsemus decided to tag along on some of the journalists' interviews with men who grew up as herders in the countryside. One thing led to another, and they found themselves accepting an invitation to travel to the desert with them to see what nomadic life was like. It seemed like a fun adventure, but because of the language barrier, they didn't fully understand that the journey would involve 20 hours off-road in a land rover. "We were flying through the desert, and the entire time, the driver plays cards in the middle section of the car with the guy who is riding shotgun," Scanlan remembers. "He barely looked at the road ahead. I knew my overbearing Jewish mother was going to kill me."

They also didn't realize that they would be stranded in the Gobi Desert for three weeks until their hosts decided to return to the city. But during their visit, they learned a great deal about where cashmere comes from.

Of the nearly 3 million people who live in Mongolia, about one-third are nomadic, tending to herds of between 250 and 1,000 livestock, including the goats that produce cashmere wool. They don't own homes, but instead live in yurt-like dwellings called gers, moving from place to place so their animals can graze. There is no electricity or running water, and the herders live on goat's meat and milk.

While the landscape is dramatic and beautiful, the climate is among the coldest in the world, with temperatures regularly dropping to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Scanlan observed that the herder families were very proud of their traditional lifestyle and were dismayed by the trend of the younger generation moving to cities where they could take part in mining, which was more lucrative. "The culture of the country is deeply intertwined with this nomadic heritage," he says. "There's nothing else in the world like it."

The worldwide cashmere industry has been booming, as cashmere sweaters and accessories have become popular in the U.S. and Europe. And yet Mongolian herders who produce some of the highest-quality cashmere fibers in the world haven't benefited from this trend. Since they are so remote, brokers and traders come out to the desert once a year to purchase massive amounts of cashmere, then sell it to consolidators who sell it to mills.

According to Scanlan, brokers fix the price of cashmere at $20 a kilo, then sell it to consolidators at the global commodity level for $50. "This marginalizes the people who do all the work," he says. "And on top of that, it artificially inflates the value of the material. But the herder never knows the difference."

This was when Scanlan and Rijsemus decided that there was a business opportunity to buy cashmere directly from herders, paying them significantly more than they were currently earning, then turning the wool into products that they would sell directly to consumers. By cutting out the middlemen, they could ensure that the people doing the hardest work in the supply chain were better compensated while also selling cashmere sweaters for less than what they are sold for in the market. It would be a "farm-to-table" approach to luxury fashion.

"While brands like Everlane and Warby Parker are cutting out the retailer markup, we're going all the way down to the raw material level to remove markups," Scanlan says.

Three years ago, Scanlan and Rijsemus put this plan into action by raising money on Kickstarter to buy their first bundles of raw cashmere and create sweaters under the brand name Naadam, which refers to a traditional festival in Mongolia that includes wrestling, archery, and horse-racing competitions. Their initial goal was to make $20,000, selling sweaters between $140 and $200, but the project was so popular that they ended up generating $103,493.

This allowed them to build up their supply chain. They went to Mongolia and paid $31 for a kilo of cashmere, which is more than 50% more than other brokers, but they never resell the raw material. Instead, they bring it to factories in Italy, China, and even Mongolia to be milled and then turned into sweaters, hats, and gloves. They charge between $99 and $200 for 100% cashmere sweaters that are milled in Italy, which is significantly less expensive than garments of comparable quality from brands like Loro Piana, Brunello Cucinelli, or Portolano.

Over the last two and a half years, Scanlan and Rijsemus built a booming e-commerce business, but they discovered that there was also a demand for a wholesale business, where they could create and sell cashmere collections to retailers, sometimes under private labels. "We can get very good prices because we own the raw material and we can negotiate discounts at manufacturers by leveraging the cost of those law materials," Scanlan explains.

By cutting out the middlemen margins, they are able to make 79% profits on e-commerce, 60% on wholesale, and 40% on private label, which is significantly higher than industry standards. And this year, they will make about $6 million in top-line revenue.

Of course, this means having to buy a lot of cashmere from herders, which is why Scanlan found himself in the middle of the Gobi Desert last year with piles of cash.

But for the business to continue to grow, Scanlan believes that they have to do more than sell high-quality sweaters at good prices. He believes that customers will stay loyal to the brand if it stays true to its social mission of helping to protect the nomadic communities who tend to the goats. To this end, Naadam is committed to investing 10% of all profits in the World Bank's livestock insurance program, which gives herders a source of income in the event of natural disasters. In the winter of 2009, for instance, Mongolia lost 9.7 million animals, or 22% of their entire livestock base, causing the country's GDP to drop by 1.6%.

"Here is my thesis," Scanlan says. "I wanted to prove that if I deliver value around an aspiration, not for how you dress, but how you want to be and how you want to live—that is, giving back to other people—that people would want to buy into that, no matter what we sell them. Almost every step of the way, we've proved that is the case, and that is what is most exciting to me."

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolian woman working as designer for Apple

November 11 (MONTSAME) 24 years old Mongolian woman Purevdorj Tergel has been working as a designer for the "Apple" company.  Currently, she is working on the construction and office interior design project for 15, 000 people.  Prior to that, she worked in Apple's Interior design project for TV.

Ms. Tergel graduated from a high school in USA and the University of Rochester. After completion, she started her career as a designer of the Appurify technological company.

Tergel spends 10 hours for her job every day, while finding a time for her lovely hobby which is to create various peculiar items from clay. It takes her 8-10 hours to make a ceramic item. In collecting all her works, she displays them at a solo exhibition she stages twice every year. Tergel has an ambitious goal to make her contribution to the development of Mongolia along with her fellow young people. To make her dream come true, she is developing herself in belief that her very time is nearing.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

AmCham Members Meet with the State Secretary of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, November 9 –The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Mongolia's Agriculture Committee members met with Mr. L. Bayartulga, State Secretary of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, and the directors of departments of the ministry on November 8, 2016, to present AmCham's Position Paper on the Agriculture Industry, to exchange views on ways to promote industry development, and to explore opportunities for constructive partnership.

AmCham's Agriculture Position Paper highlights the importance of the industry's access to financing and new markets, and calls for less government intervention in the procurement of equipment and price controls. The Position Paper shares member-specific issues and proposes viable solutions to address the challenges of the agricultural sector in Mongolia.

In his remarks about the key policy priorities of his ministry, State Secretary L. Bayartulga said, "The ministry will be focusing on three main policy directions, which are advancing the inter-sectoral relationships of the industry, the promotion of import substitution and fostering of exports, and developing strong cooperation with the private sector."

Mike Morrow, Chairman of AmCham's Agriculture Committee, commented on the significance of the meeting, and said, "We are encouraged by this morning's meeting with State Secretary Bayartulga and his colleagues. We welcome his invitation to deepen the dialogue and look forward to contributing to the success of the government's agriculture strategy, which is not only new but innovative."

Link to release

Back to Headlines

AmCham Daily Newswire for November 11, 2016

GOVERNMENT

2017 state budget approved

Summary: Yesterday, following the final hearing for the 2017 state budget and the 2017 budget for the Social Insurance Fund, Parliament approved the proposed budgets along with 11 bills and 1 parliamentary resolution. Parliament also approved a 2017 fiscal framework and a draft of the 2018-2019 budget forecast. State budget revenue in 2017 is set to be around at 6.1 trillion MNT (23.3% of GDP), 6.8 trillion MNT in 2018 (23.8% of GDP), and 7.5 trillion MNT in 2019 (23.7% of GDP). Maximum budget expenditure in 2017 will be approximately 8.5 trillion MNT (32.3% of GDP), 8.9 trillion MNT in 2018 (31.3% of GDP), and 9.3 trillion in 2019 (29.2% of GDP). The government's total debt in 2017 is estimated to be around  22.3 trillion MNT at today's currency value (84.4% of GDP), 22.8 trillion MNT in 2018, and 23.9 trillion MNT in 2019 (74.9% of GDP). The Social Insurance Fund's income is set to increase by 10.6 billion MNT in 2017, reaching approximately 1.9 trillion MNT, and its expenditure is set to decrease by 0.7 billion MNT, bringing it to around 1.8 trillion MNT.

Keywords: economy, state budget, Parliament - Today /page A2/


Amendment to the Conflict of Interest Law approved

Summary: With a 64.8% vote in favor, Parliament approved an amendment outlining a ban on offshore accounts being added to the Conflict of Interest Law. State government officials and other officials holding public office will no longer be able to have offshore accounts according to the law. The amendment includes a provision to allow the use of offshore accounts if government officials intend to study abroad or if they plan to receive medical care and other basic services abroad. In these specific instances they will be allowed to deposit capital in foreign accounts. Member of Parliament S. Byambatsogt stated, "Research into whether or not offshore accounts could be opened by family member and friends was conducted. It would be unconstitutional to ban the use of offshore accounts by family members, but if officials deposit capital under someone else's name, there will be consequences."  
 

Keywords: legal reform, offshore accounts - The Century News /page 1/


ECONOMY

Agricultural and industrial projects valued at 114 billion MNT now being planned

Summary: Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P. Sergelen announced that the ministry is planning to implement 11 projects valued at 114 billion MNT. The Minister specified that 23.9 billion MNT will be allocated for improving animal husbandry, 30.6 billion MNT will go to agriculture, 40 billion MNT to light industry, 20 billion MNT to SMEs, and 340 million MNT to improving food production. The ministry says that through the implementation of these actions, 18,000 jobs will be created, and that the projects are expected to generate revenue equivalent to around 35% of GDP. Minister P. Sergelen stated that the ministry will pay special attention to the health of livestock and that it is currently drafting a bill on livestock health and genetics.

Keywords: agriculture The National Post /page 5/


MINING

Chinese companies to begin selling coal for 535 CNY per ton  

Summary: Chinese coal supplier Shenhua Group and other large companies have signed a supply contract with Beijing's primary thermal power plants. The contract will take effect next December, and the price is set at around 535 CNY per ton. Last Sunday, at Qinhuangdao Port, the price for coal reached its highest point since June 2012, reaching 700 CNY (around 103 USD) per ton. Mongolia's Energy Resources has stated that it is possible to raise their coking coal price to 107 USD.      


ONLINE STORIES

Land auction to be held next month   

Summary: The Property Affairs Office of Ulaanbaatar will hold an auction for land possession and use on the December 6, at Khangarid Palace. Those wishing to participate in the auction must prepare an application form and be ready to provide identification documents, a fee of 12,500 MNT, and proof of capital deposited as prepayment to the Property Affairs Office. Participants may register for the auction from December 1-6, at the state agency's offices on the third floor of Khangarid Palace.

Keywords: auction, land - www.ikon.mn

Link to newsletter

Back to Headlines

Gradon Architecture grows team following project wins

November 10 (BD Daily) An architects firm that is going from strength to strength despite a difficult post-Brexit climate is investing in recruitment after securing a number of high-profile projects across the UK and Northern Ireland.

Gradon Architecture, which has bases in Gateshead, Derry and Ulan Bator, Mongolia, has appointed three new staff, growing the team to 22 across the three locations.

Andrew Thompson, 25, joins the team in Ryton as a Part 2 Architectural Assistant and arrives at the practice with two years' industry experience under his belt after taking time out to complete a Masters in Architecture.

Andrew, from Middleborough, who studied at Northumbria University, will be working on Gradon's projects across the North East and South East regions.

Andrew said: "I was aware of Gradon growing across the UK and internationally and was very impressed with the achievements of the team, which encouraged me to apply for the position. I'm thrilled to have been successful; it's a great opportunity to join the practice at such an exciting time.

"I'm looking forward to developing my career and contributing to Gradon's future success stories."

Gradon, which has a proven track record for nurturing young architectural talent, is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) mentoring scheme, which sees students assigned to architectural practices to allow early practical experience in their careers.

The practice, which also creates tailor-made apprenticeships for local students and regularly visits schools to encourage young people into the profession, has also welcomed two more recent graduates to the team.

Kelly Gormley, 29, and Lauren McLaughlin, 26, will join Gradon's Derry-based team as Part 2 Architectural Assistants working with Architectural Director Sean Furey and Technical Director Liam Neils, who are spearheading the practice's move into London as well as heading up operations in Northern Ireland.

Kelly, who is from Derry and studied architecture at Liverpool John Moores University, said: "Joining Gradon is a fantastic opportunity to increase my skill set and advance my career. It's also great to be able to work on projects in Derry and have a hand in shaping the future of my own city.

"I'm looking forward to getting started and building on what I've learned at university and delivering architecture that makes a difference to people's lives."

Lauren, from Carrigans, County Donegal, added: "In particular I'm looking forward to taking on more design work, especially focusing on bespoke private residential projects which allow a lot of opportunity for creativity."

Graham McDarby, founder and Managing Director of Gradon Architecture, said: "We've recently secured a number of new exciting projects in North East England and Northern Ireland, as well as expanding into London for the first time, and this has enabled us to be in the fantastic position of recruiting a number of new staff.

"We have always placed a strong emphasis on offering opportunity and career progression to young architectural talent and we're delighted to welcome Andrew, Lauren and Kelly to the Gradon Architecture team at a pivotal stage in their architecture careers. Their fresh ideas, knowledge and enthusiasm will be a great asset and we're looking forward to seeing their careers flourish with us."

This investment in staff follows Gradon, which focuses on delivering sustainable projects with care and efficiency, securing a number of new projects in London and across Northern Ireland and the North East.

Current projects on the go include a number of bespoke multimillion residential projects across London and work on the Percy Hedley Foundation's specialist residential school in North Tyneside. Meanwhile, large-scale Mongolia projects include Galleria UB, a multi-million pound shopping centre in Mongolia's capital city.

To find out more about the architectural services that Gradon Architecture provides, visit their website of follow them on social media.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Key Things To Know About Mining In Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan And Mongolia

by Umid Aripdjanov, Centil Law Firm

November 9 (Mondaq) This article contains a brief overview of the key aspects of mining industry laws in the jurisdictions of Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia.

Legal framework and regulatory authority

The exploration and development of minerals in these countries is regulated by a number of laws and regulations. In most of these jurisdictions the primary law regulating the mining sector is the Subsoil Use Law, which sets out the basic legal framework governing exploration and development of subsoil resources, provides for state control and granting, using and assigning or terminating rights and obligations of subsoil users, and other general matters. One exception is Mongolia, where the primary law regulating subsoil use for exploration and mining is the Minerals Law. Along with the relevant subsoil use laws, the laws on concessions (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia), the laws on production sharing agreements (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia), and the law on oil and gas (Georgia) regulate investors' operations in the mining sector.

The mining industry in these jurisdictions is also regulated by a number of other more general laws and regulations, including the laws on licensing, investment protection, taxes, and environmental laws.

In general, in all these jurisdictions the state's duties with regard to the management of the subsoil are allocated to the central government, competent body and local executive bodies. The responsibility of the government is lies in organising and managing the state subsoil stock, outlining subsoil allotments, establishing the procedures for the conclusion the subsoil use contracts, and appointing the "competent body" for the execution and implementation of contracts. The competent body prepares and organises tenders, conducts negotiations with subsoil users, signs and registers contracts, monitors compliance with contracts and issues permits for the assignment of subsoil rights. Local executive bodies grant land plots to subsoil users, supervise the protection of the land, and participate in negotiations with subsoil users for environmental and social protection, among other functions.

Ownership of subsoil, subsoil use rights, transfer

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Asia Frontier Capital Interview: Opportunities In Vietnam, Pakistan, Sri Lanka And Mongolia

Summary

·         Vietnam is in a sweet spot at present relative to other frontier markets.

·         The Pakistani stock market has had a good run over the past three years for a number of reasons, namely receiving funding from the IMF for resolving its foreign exchange.

·         Mongolia's economy has experienced four years of increased hardship as a result of poor implementation of protectionist policies married with a downtrend in major resources.

·         With the government appearing committed to improve the country's economic prospects, 2017 should be a better year for Sri Lanka.

By Dylan Waller

November 9 (Seeking Alpha) I had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Hugger of Asia Frontier Capital, a fund management company that focuses on high-growth frontier markets through its AFC Vietnam Fund, AFC Asia Frontier Fund and the AFC Iraq Fund. Asia Frontier Capital has investments in approximately 14 markets in Asia, utilizing a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches to capture both growth and value in its investments. In addition to having a local presence in Vietnam, the fund also travels to a large number of countries it invests in to perform on-the-ground due diligence. This interview mainly focuses on the future potential of the following four frontier markets in Asia: Vietnam, Pakistan, Mongolia and Sri Lanka.

Mongolia has experienced quite an economic turnaround this year with the confirmation of Oyu Tolgoi, the election of a new government that is more pro-foreign investment and the resolution of a mining dispute with Khan Resources. At the same time, the country has its obvious challenges ahead due to its dependency on commodity exports to China, and the country was even termed the "Land of Lost Opportunity" earlier this year. Based on changes that have taken place this year, do you see a continued improved economic outlook for the country and a second mining boom occurring in the 2020s, when Oyu Tolgoi goes into full production?

Mongolia's economy has experienced four years of increased hardship as a result of poor implementation of protectionist policies married with a downtrend in major resources. Mongolian exports are reliant on copper, coal, iron ore and gold. However, since the start of the year, this downtrend has reversed, as commodity prices have rallied and large economies, including the USA and China, are seeing increased signs of inflation. The coal price is now up from a low of USD 50 per ton to USD 120, which will give an enormous boost to Mongolian coal mining companies near the Chinese border, like Erdene Tolgoi or Tavan Tolgoi.

On June 29, Parliamentary elections were held, where the pro-business Mongolian People's Party (MPP) won an 85% majority and subsequently did very well in the October 19th provincial elections. With control of the government, the MPP is focused on advancing several key projects - the Oyu Tolgoi Phase II development operated by Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO), the Gatsuurt gold mine owned by publicly listed Centerra Gold (OTCPK:CAGDF) and the development of the Tavan Tolgoi coking coal deposit (the world's largest untapped coal deposit), a railway connecting Tavan Tolgoi to the Chinese border and a mine-mouth power plant to supply electricity to the region. These mentioned initiatives will help to stabilize the economic slide, likely to be implemented in line with a coming IMF bailout which is expected over the coming months.

The short-term focus for Mongolia needs to be on repairing its balance sheet and improving the business climate, where foreigners do not have the rules amended once they have invested capital. Luckily, this government is actionable and seeking to reinvigorate the business climate, which should, over time, filter through to improvements in the economy.

Long term, the government needs to facilitate the development of key infrastructure corridors, inclusive of railroads, highways and power plants. One of the country's Achilles' heels is its lack of infrastructure, which makes it less competitive versus Australian and Indonesian coal and iron ore. Investing into infrastructure may very well allow Mongolia to see a day when it can permanently undercut its competition on major commodity imports to China.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Ulaanbaatar

"Happy City" programme to expand green areas

November 10 (Mongolian Economy) Cities around the world plant trees around buildings. In contrast, Ulaanbaatar cuts trees down to build construction works. This is one of the reasons why city aesthetic as well as the health of the people has been deteriorating. Accordingly, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold informed that a decree prohibiting conducting construction work in public areas was issued during today's press conference.

"Starting from today, constructions for businesses are not allowed to be built in public areas within residential apartments in order to ensure residents' safety and to increase green areas. There will be no more such decisions approved by my signature. Only public parking lots can be built in these public areas in the middle of residential districts, and for those, a parking lot must have 2-3 underground floors and have some greenery or a children's playground on the top," said Mayor S.Batbold.

The City Citizens' Representative Council has moved forward with adoption of a programme titled "Happy City." This programme will focus on increasing urban health and safety for residents. Building green area in the city is part of the tasks of the Happy City programme.

The Mayor added: "If land permissions are issued within a school or kindergarten yard, such permissions will only allow for expanding the school's or kindergarten's building and capacity."

If this rule is violated, measures up to and including revocation of a company's licence can be taken.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

UB auctioning 138.47 hectares of land on December 6

Ulaanbaatar, November 11 (MONTSAME) The Land Office of the UB City is auctioning 138.47 hectares of land in 25 locations on December 6, 2016. Interested participants are welcomed for registration between December 1st and 9.30 am of December 6th at the Khangarid Palace.

The applications must include supporting documents – a copy of citizen's passport for individual participants, a copy of company certificate for an entity, stamp duty (MNT 12,500), and 10 percent of the first prize offered by each participant.

The lands for auction are located in Khan-Uul, Bayanzurkh, Songinokhairkhan, Baganuur, Bayankhangai and Nalaikh districts.

For more information, go to Ulaanbaatar.mn.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Thermal Power Plant IV prepares for winter

November 8 (UB Post) Executive Director S.Ankhbayar of Thermal Power Plant IV (TPP4) reported on November 4 that winter preparation at the power station was nearing completion.

Minister of Energy P.Gankhuu paid a working visit to TPP3 and TPP4 on November 4 to check on the progress of winter preparation.

TPP4 generates 70 percent of the nation's energy supply. The station recently reported that it had completed repairs on six of its eight boilers, with the repair of the two remaining boilers in its final stages. By November 7, the station's sixth turbine will be operational.

S.Ankhbayar highlighted that the power station employs around 1,492 people, stating that there wouldn't be a shortage in the station's workforce this winter.

The government recently issued a 20 billion MNT loan to the Baganuur and Shive Ovoo mines, two of TPP4's primary coal suppliers. It was reported that the mines were facing financial difficulties and had debt of 11 billion MNT. As of September 1, the Baganuur mine had only fulfilled 45 percent of its winter preparation. TPP4 officials noted that the government loan contributed greatly to the completion of winter preparation. The mines now have 380,000 tons of coal ready to be sent to the power station. The supply is set to reach 450,000 tons in winter, officials highlighted.

As reported during Minister P.Gankhuu's visit, the power station currently has a supply of 185,000 tons of coal, which will last around 21 days. As of now, the station is using only five of its eight boilers and burning 8,500 to 9,000 tons of coal daily. As temperatures drop, seven of the eight boilers will be operation, which will require 13,000 tons of coal daily.

According to officials, even though winter preparation at TPP4 is complete, there are a number of pressing issues, such as the energy value of coal. Head of the Fuel Transport Department P.Bayar- Erdene said, "Currently, the energy value of coal from Baganuur mine is 3160, whereas Shivee-Ovoo's coal is at 3030. The energy value of coal from Shive-Ovoo has been decreasing every year, with the energy value being 2967 in 2015. We have improved the capacity of our boilers to 500 tons an hour. However, in order to fully take advantage of this, we need coal that has an energy value above 3300. As a result, we have proposed buying 60 percent of our coal supply from Baganuur mine and 40 percent from Shivee-Ovoo."

Another pressing issue is water purification, according to Head of the Turbine Department, D.Gankhuyag. He reported that the soil pollution caused by the activities of the nearby Central Wastewater Treatment Plant is affecting the power station's water purification system. D.Gankhuyag emphasized to Minister P.Gankhuu that this problem needs to be addressed quickly.

The functionality of the power station's pipes is another issue that was reported by officials. Fifty percent of the pipes have passed their operational shelf life. The government plans to spend five billion MNT in order to replace and repair the pipe system. The pipes that are critical will be repaired in the near future.

Officials stressed that even though there are pressing issues, the preparation for this winter will be fully complete by November 15.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Pit latrines are major cause of soil pollution

November 9 (gogo.mn) Adverse impacts of pit latrines on environment have became the facing issues of citizens of the Ulaanbaatar city. 

Forum on "Sanitary facilities - Pit latrines" was held today in Ulaanbaatar city. 

Members of Parliament, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Deputy Minister of Health, scientists and researchers have attended the forum and discussed the current situation, implementation and further policy of pit latrines. 

MP D.Garamjav noted at the opening speech: "Soil pollution is one of the facing issues in Ulaanbaatar city. Therefore, we are organizing the forum, attending affiliated ministries, professional organizations. According to the study, 90 percent of soil pollution of the Ulaanbaatar city contains substances that harmful to health. Thus, we need to improve the needs of pit latrines".

According to the 2015 statistics, total of 376 thousands of households live in Ulaanbaatar city, of which 157 thousands of households live in apartments and the remaining 218 thousands of households live in ger districts, which use over 100 thousands of pit latrines. About 80 percent of pit latrines are not meet the standard requirements. 

A person average approximately 200 grams of poop and 1.2 liters of urine per day, according to the World Health Organization. If one household has four people, they eliminate 720 grams of poop and 4.3 liters of urine per day. Thus, around 1 million liters of feces pollute the soil through the pit latrines everyday. 

Intestinal infectious diseases took 9.9 percent of infectious diseases caused by microbial contamination of soil while 84.1 percent of hand-foot-and-mouth disease was registered in Ulaanbaatar city. 

Sulfur and ammonia produced from pit toilet belong to a category of toxic gases and stand 4th in toxicity ranking. Ammonia is harmful to human health, affects fetus and causes birth defects. Also, it causes infertility.

Following is the reasons for why there is no progress on pit toilet:

  • Non-implementation of urban planning 
  • Lack of engineering infrastructure 
  • People`s attitude towards environment hygiene is weak 
  • Lack of information to citizens about health and sanitary facilities
  • Expensive technologies 

Moreover, MP D.Garamjav thanked to the World Vision, The UN Children's Fund, Asian Development Bank and Mobicom corporation for contributing to the improvement on sanitary facilities of local kindergartens and schools.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Driving under pressure

By T. Bayarbat

November 11 (UB Post) Amendments to the Traffic Code were approved by Parliament on July 8, 2015, and they took effect on September 1, 2015. A number of regulations in the new version of the law were designed to decrease traffic accidents and to persuade drivers to own up to their responsibilities behind the wheel.

According to reports from the Traffic Police Department (TPD), there were 541 traffic-related deaths in 2012, 597 in 2013, 654 in 2014, and 556 in 2015. Another sad fact is that a lot of children are victims of traffic accidents. Over 1,000 children are injured and around 100 children die in traffic collisions every year, with 45 children killed in 2016 as of September. New regulations have not helped save lives so far.

The fine for the offense of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol went from 384,000 MNT to 768,000 MNT, and includes the suspension of driving privileges for six months to two years. Unfortunately, cases of drunk driving have not been reduced since the new law took effect.

Drivers now have ten points that are at risk of reduction in the event of a traffic violation being committed. If a driver loses his or her ten points, that person's driver's license will be revoked and the driver will be required to successfully complete a course on traffic regulations and pass an exam to recover their ten points.

People claim that some officials at the TPD engage in corruption to revalidate revoked driver's licenses, and it is commonly known that some Traffic Police officers issue new licenses without requiring a passed exam with the payment of a bribe. People feel that tow trucks and booted tires are a nightmare, because most people have faced this problem.

They say that tow truck drivers are earning a profit by stealing cars. The new Traffic Code has been criticized by the public, with claims that the state is using it as an excuse to steal from poor citizens, and many feel that they shouldn't have to follow the new traffic rules.

Taxi driver B.Baasandorj said that some regulations in the new Traffic Code are almost impossible to apply to Mongolian traffic but that the drunk driving penalties are very good, because drivers are responsible for the safety of their passengers and other people on the road, especially for the safety of children.

Driver B.Dungarmaa said, "I skimmed information about the new law on the internet. There should be tougher traffic regulations for Mongolians, because we don't follow traffic laws while driving. Mongolians drive like they are riding horses on the steppe, and some people are so rude and drive like they are alone in traffic. These impatient drivers cause traffic jams and accidents in Ulaanbaatar. That is why we need the toughest regulations."

T.Enkhbaatar, a driver for the head of a state organization, said that a country like Mongolia with a small population needs to have strong traffic laws and regulations to increase driver accountability, especially on highways.

Driver Ch.Ugaanbayar said, "Traffic Police always overcharge drivers for towing and other regulations, but they have to be clear with the public about where our fines go. They have an obligation to report to the public about fine spending. All reports must be published on a website for transparent budget reporting, with open access to anyone who has been charged, to review public budget spending. I think that penalty payments should be used for traffic development services."

Captain Ya.Soronzonbold of the Traffic Police Department stated that all Traffic Police officers use small handheld devices which are able to read all driver's licenses. He noted that the devices can tell the officers if a driver's license is valid, if a vehicle has passed safety and vehicle emissions inspections, and how many times a driver has committed traffic
offenses.

The Captain said, "The handheld equipment has many advantages that allow Traffic Police officers to carry out their duties quickly and easily. Traffic Police officers don't need too much time to type their notes into the computer system, and they do not need to issue on-the-spot fines and support suspicions that Traffic Police officers are making money."

Captain Ya.Soronzonbold pointed out that paid fines go to the state, to generate revenue for the state budget, and that the Traffic Police Department has no right to spend those funds.

That operations of law enforcement agencies being free of corruption and focused on enforcement, traffic violation fines being clear and provided with the required support, and drivers following traffic regulations are all of significant importance to improving Mongolia's traffic environment.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Hackathon – Mapping the future of conservation in Mongolia

November 8 (GIS User) By all indications, the future sees population increasing and densifying within urban areas, and growth halting elsewhere. Whether we face a future where technologies increasingly reduce cities' dependence on the hinterlands for food, water and energy, or whether we face a future where the ecological stress on the hinterlands continues to grow, we are faced with hard choices about the places and resources that we want to preserve as a global society.

MSU Mapathon for Mongolia (New York)

We're working with the Ger Community Mapping Center from Mongolia to map areas in need in Ulanbaatar. This work will assist local groups in Mongolia and enable communities to work for better resources and to address environmental and social concerns. It's a great opportunity for you to learn about collaborative mapping with OpenStreetMap and help out!

Monday November 14, 2016

5:00 – 7:00pm

At the same time, climate change will impact species distribution, abundance, and ecological interactions across the globe.

Challenges

Map the future geography of conservation, restoration, and sustainability. Each dimension of our world's environment face unique challenges regarding their conservation, preservation and sustainability;

Show us where we are and what the future looks like geospatially (on a map), under conditions you determine. Tell us the story you envision for your dimension.

Dimensions:

Oceans

Forests

Conservation and Indigenous Peoples

Ideas to consider:

Can your data discovery and visualization tell a story?

Will your visualization educate in more than 2 dimensions?

Are trends in current conservation addressed?

Is your hack interactive or possess the ability to be updated live?

Prizes

Grand Prize: $3000 + Round trip Air and hotel 3 day/2nights to DC to meet NGA Executives and Sr Tech leaders + & Present their solution at the Geography 2050 Summit Nov 17&18th Live!

1st Runner Up: $1000

Best use of Mapbox: $500

Schedule

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Ulaanbaatar Clean Air Project : P122320 - Implementation Status Results Report : Sequence 09 (English)

November 3 (World Bank) --

Link to report

Back to Headlines

Diplomacy

Mongolia Expresses Interest to Join Eurasian Economic Union – Ambassador

Mongolia expresses high interest in collaboration with the EEU, develop trade and economic ties with Russia, the country's Ambassador to Russia Banzragch Delgermaa said Saturday.

MOSCOW, November 4 (Sputnik) — The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is of great interest for Mongolia, the country's Ambassador to Russia Banzragch Delgermaa said Saturday.

"As you know, the process of integration and establishment of regional blocs is underway in the world, and that is why Mongolia, located between such powerful states as Russia and China, and without access to the sea, is glad to join some economic blocs and work effectively, In this regard, the Eurasian Economic Union is of great interest for us," Delgermaa said in the interview to Rossiya 24 channel.

Delgermaa noted that joining the EEU was earlier discussed with former Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, who is currently the chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission, the executive body of the EEU.

The Eurasian Economic Union is a Russia-initiated regional political and economic bloc which aims to streamline the flow of goods and services between its members, namely Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

Moreover, concerning relations with Russia, Mongolian Ambassador to Russia Banzragch Delgermaa said on Saturday that Mongolia hopes to boost trade and economic relations with Russia,

"The potential of trade relations between the two countries is very big, earlier we had joint ventures, unfortunately we do not see any investment projects yet. But at the SCO summit in Tashkent this year a program of economic corridor was signed, on which we hope. We also hope that the investment environment would improve," Delgermaa told the Rossiya 24 TV-channel in an interview.

She said that the countries had positive political relations but noted that there were misbalances in bilateral trade with the turnover amounting to $1.2 billion and Russian export to Mongolia – over $1 billion.

Delgermaa pointed out that Russia had always been a good neighbor of Mongolia – especially during last 95 years.

Earlier on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Mongolian counterpart Tsendiyn Munkh-Orgil had exchanged congratulatory messages marking the 95th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between the countries.

Russia and Mongolia have almost a century-long history of friendly relations. Mongolia declared its independence from China in 1911 following the Xinhai revolution in China. In 1921, Russian White warlord Roman von Ungern-Sternberg helped to free the Mongolian capital of Urga from Chinese troops thus protecting the country's independence. The same year, Mongolia witnessed a revolution that resulted in improving relations with Soviet Russia. In late 1930s – early 1940s, the countries joined their efforts resisting expansion of the Japanese Empire.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Is the Eurasian Economic Union right for Mongolia?

November 9 (UB Post) Recently, on the 95th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between Mongolia and Russia, Mongolian Ambassador to Russia B.Delgermaa expressed Mongolia's interest in possibly joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Accession into the EEU could have a large impact on the country's future economic outlook and foreign relations. Is this merely an economic integration union, as advertised, or are there political ambitions behind the union? Would the EEU help propel Mongolia into its next stage of economic development, or would it be a fast track back to Russian influence?

The EEU is an economic union between five member countries, namely Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus. The treaty to establish the union was signed in 2014, and the union officially came into force on January 1, 2015. The EEU boasts a gross domestic product of 1.9 trillion USD and a population of 179 million people. Seen by most analysts as a way for Russia to counter the European Union, all of the member states are former Soviet states. Historically speaking, Eurasian integration began after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As former Soviet countries had become economically weak and were undergoing massive reform, the need for economic integration arose. The prospect of a Eurasian integration union was attractive to leaders who did not align themselves with Western ideologies on development. A predecessor of the EEU was the Eurasian Economic Community. This eventually evolved to become a customs union promoting free trade by erasing the customs taxes levied on goods traveling within the union's borders. All of this led up to the formation of the EEU.

Geographically speaking, Russia has most of its landmass in Asia. Russia has historically never aligned itself exclusively with Europe or Asia, culturally or politically, and it has positioned itself as a unique region between the West and the East, always keen on influencing and establishing a strong position in the region. Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it has been no secret that Russia has been eager to reestablish its influence on neighboring post-Soviet countries. It tried to align itself with Western ideologies in the 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union was still recent and economic hardships forced Russia's ambitious for a strong Eurasia to be put on hold. As President Putin came to power and Russia's commodity exports increased, and Russia began to regain the influence it had lost and further alienated itself from the West.

Today, Russia is one of the world's leading producers of oil and natural gas, and is also a top exporter of metals, such as steel and primary aluminum. This has allowed them to pursue a more active foreign policy abroad, one of which is the establishment of the EEU. Even though it is touted as an economic union, it is hard to deny that the EEU is also a component in the arsenal of Moscow's foreign policy. The EEU is seen as a move to counter the European Union, and moreover, NATO. All the other members of the union neighbor Russia. By aligning with them in a union, Russia is able to consolidate its security. Mongolia's accession would allow Russia to further consolidate its border security and distance itself from NATO member countries.

It is easy to see how the EEU is beneficial to Russia. The question is, how does Mongolia fit into this picture? Ever since the 1990s, Mongolia has made it clear that it was actively pursuing a third neighbor policy. This policy is in place to develop and intensify ties with countries other than its two immediate neighbors. Due to this, Mongolia has been reluctant to align itself with any military or political alliances. This has been a part of an effort to balance relations between the West and its immediate neighbors. While the EEU is described as an economic union, accession to the EEU could still be seen by the West as a shift towards Russia. The union has stated plans to further intensify integration, with the prospect of a unified currency in discussion. There is no denying that accession on the part of Mongolia would have economic benefits, opening up markets in EEU member countries and facilitating an increase in both the volume and variety of exports. The idea of a unified currency could also be beneficial to Mongolia, as the country would not have to shoulder the management of its primary currency. An EEU membership would also help quell Mongolia's dependence on China and create more balanced trade turnover. There are clear advantages that come with accession, however, it is important to look at the other impacts as well.

The EEU might offer the benefits of a unified market, a more integrated and cooperative region, and it could potentially offer more stability for Mongolia's trade. However, we must remember the possible repercussions of becoming a member. Economically speaking, the EEU is not as strong as it seems. A collective gross domestic product of 1.9 trillion USD and a population of 179 million people seems like an ideal union at face value. But delving deeper, it is clear that Russia is the backbone of this union and shoulders the majority of the heavy lifting. Of the collective GDP and population, 1.6 trillion USD and 143 million of its people belong to Russia. The next biggest contributor to the collective GDP is Kazakhstan, which has a GDP of 420.6 billion USD. In fact, Russia and Kazakhstan are the two major economies in the union.

Unlike the European Union, which has four major economies (France, the U.K, Germany, and Italy) the EEU is driven by only one major player. Even then, the Russian economy is fairly volatile. Since the export of commodities is a major component of the Russian economy, it leaves it vulnerable to boom and bust cycles. Recent low oil prices and Western sanctions have put an even larger strain on the economy. According to EurasiaNet, "Intra-EEU trade tumbled 26 percent and members spent an average of 10-15 percent of their sovereign reserves defending national currencies that are wilting under the pressure of falling oil prices and Russia's souring economy." Looking at the current situation, if Mongolia becomes an EEU member, there is no guarantee that trade with other EEU members will increase. If an economic union cannot fulfill its most important role, there is little incentive for membership.

Moscow's vision for the EEU is of an integrated union similar to that of the European Union, with a unified parliament and currency. This has caused the other members, particularly Kazakhstan, to be wary of the initiatives that Moscow has begun to act on. In particular, that anxiety relates to "serious disagreements about widening, both in economic terms, towards a monetary union, and political terms, over the inclusion of institutions such as a parliament, that might signal a political agenda," according to Dr. Rilka Dragneva-Lewers, an expert on regional integration, EU external policy, and legal reform from Birmingham Law School. These types of moves show that Moscow might have more than economic integration in mind. This could be a troublesome sign for Mongolia, which recently announced its permanent neutrality at the UN General Assembly.

Looking at all the information shows us that becoming an EEU member right now could potentially bring more problems for Mongolia than solutions. It would be more beneficial for Mongolia to strengthen cooperation with EEU member countries rather than fully dive in and become a member. Specifically, more comprehensive economic relations with Russia without political strings attached would be better both in the short and long term.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mogi: huh? And we didn't have "political dialogue" before? Well, thank you Russia for "supporting" our sovereignty

Russia open for political dialogue with Mongolia — diplomat

Russia will continue to support Mongolia's national sovereignty

MOSCOW, November 11. /TASS/. Russia is open for political dialogue and comprehensive cooperation with Mongolia, a senior official of the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday.

"The two countries have traditionally friendly relations and cooperation on the basis of close partnership and respect to each other's interests," Andrei Kulik, director of the ministry's first Asia department, said at an exhibition at the Russian foreign ministry dedicated to the 95th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Mongolia.

"Russia was the first state to recognize Mongolia's freedom and independence," he said. "We will continue to support Mongolia's national sovereignty and socio-economic progress, observance of its legal interests on the international arena and in the region."

Mongolia "is Russia's good neighbor and a strategic partner," the Russian diplomat said, adding that relations between the two countries are built on a solid legal basis which creates conditions "for fruitful dialogue at the top and higher levels."

"Russia stays open for active political dialogue and comprehensive cooperation with sovereign and independent Mongolia," Kulik stressed.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Sergey Lavrov sends congratulatory message on 95th jubilee of Mongolia-Russia diplomatic ties

Ulaanbaatar, November 4 (MONTSAME) Mongolia and the Russian Federation are commemorating the 95th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The two neighbors incepted officially bilateral diplomatic ties on November 5, 1921. On this occasion, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov has sent a congratulatory message to his Mongolian counterpart Ts.Munkh-Orgil.

It reads,

Your Excellency Mr Ts.Munkh Orgil,

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia,

It's my pleasure to convey my sincere congratulations on the 95th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries.

Mongolia is an old and trusted partner of Russia. Our partnership as good neighbors, mutual trust and respect, and strong bonds of friendship connect our two nations. Good peoples of our two countries have been showing each other consistent support and assistance in the course of history, and even in the turning points.

In the past several decades, a lot has been accomplished owing to joint efforts in progressing bilateral ties. It is delightful to emphasize the both sides' aspiration for further development of the bilateral cooperation. I strongly believe that the Medium-Term Program on Implementing the Strategic Partnership, officiated this year, will forward our relations in every field.

I highly acknowledge the current state of our cooperation on the international arena. Russia and Mongolia share positions on ways of solutions to numerous pressing global issues.

I am fully convinced that the commemoration of the milestone anniversary will make its contributions to consolidating bilateral relations in all sectors, and to ensuring of well-being of the peoples, peace, security and stability in Asia.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish success and happiness to You and the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia".

Link to article

Back to Headlines

FM Ts.Munkh-Orgil congratulates his Russian counterpart on 95th anniversary of Mongolia-Russia diplomatic relations

Ulaanbaatar, November 4 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia sent a congratulatory message to his Russian counterpart, Mr Sergey Lavrov on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Mongolia and Russia, which befalls on November 5 of 2016.

The message reads,

Your Excellency Mr S.V.Lavrov,

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation,

Dear Mr Sergey Viktorovich,

I am pleased to convey my sincere congratulations to You and the staff of your ministry on the 95th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Russia, on behalf of myself and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia.

In the past 95 years, Mongolia and Russia built a solid foundation for long-standing and dynamic cooperation, the peoples consolidated the brotherhood relationship based on mutual trust and constructive developments and on the friendship tested by time. The traditional friendship ties anchored in equality and mutual trusts, have been elevated to the level of strategic partnership.

I would like to emphasize an importance of the Medium-Term Program on Implementation of the Strategic Partnership, signed during Your visit to Mongolia of last April, in forwarding bilateral broad interactions.

I strongly believe that the Mongolia-Russia strategic partnership will ever-deepen and prosper, making a great contribution to not only the well-being of our peoples, but also to the regional cooperation.

I wish to take this opportunity to extend best wishes to You, Sergey Viktorovich, and your staff.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia, Russia to seek new ways of boosting economic ties

Ulaanbaatar, November 4 (MONTSAME) State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D.Davaasuren had a meeting with Andrey Borisovich Kulik, the director of the First Asian Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, on November 3 in Moscow.

They exchanged the congratulatory messages of the foreign ministers of Mongolia and Russia on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of diplomatic relations, and shared views on the issues regarding the bilateral relations.

The sides applauded the accomplishments in the political relations, and agreed on the fact that the sides should seek new rooms for cooperation and mechanism in order to promote the economic ties and trade.

The dignitaries also pointed out an importance of making certain the full delivery of the provisions of the Medium Term Program on the Implementation of Strategic Partnership, Roadmap for Medium Term of Russia-Mongolia-China Cooperation and the Program on Establishing a Russia-Mongolia-China Economic Corridor.

Present were also the first deputy director of the First Asian Department V.A.Kalinin, head of division R.I.Juravlev, chief adviser V.V.Oknyanskii, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Russian Federation B.Delgermaa, deputy director of the Department of Neighboring Countries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D.Khasar, Minister-Counsellor of the Mongolian embassy in Moscow Ch.Battomor and third secretary Ts.Battor.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Ulaanbaatar to host Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Committee meeting in December

Ulaanbaatar, November 7 (MONTSAME) State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Davaasuren had a meeting with Director of the Department of Asia, Africa and Latin America of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation E.N.Popov on November 3 to discuss key issues of the bilateral trade and economic ties.

The sides emphasized an importance of the Program on Establishing a Russia-Mongolia-China Economic Corridor for stimulating commercial ties. They have also agreed on the need to establish an investment projecting center for conducting feasibility studies for and implementing the tri-partite projects, reflected in the above mentioned program, and to launch talks on its venue Ulaanbaatar is proposed for as well as to holding a meeting of experts from Mongolia, Russia and China in December in Ulaanbaatar.

The dignitaries also set the date for the 20th meeting of the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade, Economy, Sciences and Technical Cooperation in December in Ulaanbaatar.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia to receive 40 million-euro loan from Austrian Government

November 4 (gogo.mn) Friday session of State Great Khural has commenced with the attendance of 52.6 percent. 

The Government is set to discuss the approval of financing agreement of export development project, established between the World Bank's International Development Association and the Government of Mongolia as well as Financial Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Mongolia and Republic of Austria. 

Mongolia signed Financial Cooperation Agreement with Austrian Government in June, 2016. 

In regards, Mongolia will receive 40 million-euro soft loans from Austrian Government with 18 years repayment period. The soft loan will be funded to local water supply, health and social security sectors.

Link to article

Related:

Mongolia to receive EUR 40 million aid from Austrianews.mn, November 4

Back to Headlines

Mongolia, China foreign ministries hold 18th consular meeting

Ulaanbaatar, November 8 (MONTSAME) The Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and China held the 18th consular meeting in Ulaanbaatar on November 7. The annual consular consultations addresses consular affairs including protection of nationals' interests and rights as well as institutional cooperation.

The meeting was chaired by the Director of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ch.Ariunbold and the Minister Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mr Yang Qingdong. The sides focused on a broad range of issues concerning bilateral consular relations, protection of nationals' interests and rights, employment and cooperation between affiliated organizations, and determined the further joint actions.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

New Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia appointed

November 11 (Mongolian Economy) With the current Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia Takenori Shimizu's term nearing its end, the Japanese government has appointed the next Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia. According to Kyodo agency, Mr. Masato Takaoka previously served as the Consul-General of Japan in Sydney and Ambassador of Japan to Iraq.

A career diplomat at 58 years old this year, Mr. Takaoka entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 1981.

As for the current Ambassador Takenori Shimizu, he speaks Mongolian language and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the Mongolian University of Science and Technology in 2015 for his contributions to strengthening bilateral cooperation in the sectors of education, science and technology.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Review: New PM's visit to Japan

By O. Kanako, Freelance Journalist, Tokyo, Japan, From issue no18, (120) in November 2016 

November 10 (Mongolian Economy) On October 12-15, about 100 days after the cabinet was formed, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat visited Japan on his first trip abroad since taking office. On the 13th, the Mongolia Trade and Investment Forum organised by JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) was held in Tokyo. Over 70 participants including economic ministers and business executives from Mongolia and over 200 from Japan attended the event.

"Mongolia has been building good relationships with Russia and China, and as a third neighbour, Japan is economically a very important country we would like to cooperate with in various aspects," said Mongolia's newly-elected PM in his speech during the opening ceremony of the forum.

His message contained three main points. First off, "invest in Mongolia as we try to prepare the environment for investors." From 1990 to 2016, as Mongolia gradually moved from socialism to democracy, Japan invested USD 262 million in Mongolia and is the biggest investor country. Pointing to this fact, he emphasised that Japanese investment would be necessary in order to stabilise the macro-economy of Mongolia.

Secondly, he hopes to expand trade volume between the two countries through the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement). Mongolia wants to export more agricultural and pastoral products and mineral resources to Japan, and also wants to adopt advanced technology from Japan for the development of the manufacturing industry and to produce more value-added products.

Thirdly, Erdenebat wants to foster a more beneficial, stable and long-term alliance between the two countries. That means not only politically, but also in terms of private companies and organisations. In 2015, more than 550 Japanese companies operated in Mongolia, including Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan and Bridgestone. "I hope the relationship of the two countries comes up fast like a horse and shines like a rainbow after rain," he said.

Before the EPA, annual trade volume between the two countries was USD 300-400 million. "After the EPA enters into force, [trade volume] could increase by 50-60 percent," estimated Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs B.Battsetseg. 

O.Erdembileg, Deputy Governor at the Bank of Mongolia, showed FDI data, which was USD 4.6 billion and 45 percent of GDP in 2011 but fell USD 110 million and one percent of GDP in 2015, and described the Economic Stabilisation Plan (ESP) for the coming four years as a breakthrough for a difficult situation.

The topic of renewable energy presented by the CEO of Clean Energy Asia, D.Gankhuyag, seemed to particularly interest the audience. The company will ensure over 2,500 sq.km. in the Gobi Desert area, an area larger than Tokyo, for use for wind and solar power. 

The "Asia Super Grid concept" project aims to send electric power generated by wind and solar power in the Gobi to Asia via integrated grids. Japan, Mongolia, China, South Korea and Russia are involved in the project. The proposer, Son Masayoshiwho, CEO of Soft Bank Group Corp., thought of the idea after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in 2011. This huge project may not seem like a giant leap taken quickly, but in 2017, a 50MW wind power plant is set to begin operations in Tsetsii. It is a dollar-denominated project co-financed by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development).

In March of this year, Soft Bank Group, the State Grid Corporation of China, KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Corporation) and ROSSETI (the Russian power grid company) signed a memorandum of understanding for carrying out the feasibility study of infrastructure for Northeast Asia. The Mongolian government fully supports the power export project, and practical steps have been taken by Mongolian private companies such as Newcom.

On 14th, Mr. Erdenebat met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They agreed that both countries will strengthen economic partnership through the EPA, and that they will cooperate in the United Nations Security Council against North Korea's nuclear tests and ballistic missile launch and to resolve abduction issues.

Furthermore Mr. Erdenebat was interviewed by the Nikkei newspaper and stated: "I want to reduce the budget deficit from the current GDP ratio of 18 percent to nine percent in 2017. In October, we want to discuss concrete support to accept the IMF investigation team. We also hope for a yen loan from Japan, as we sought the last time we accepted IMF support in 2009. To recover the trust of foreign investors quickly, we will open a 'complaints window' under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister."

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Bulgarian President bestows highest award to Mongolian Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, November 7 (MONTSAME) The President of Bulgaria, Mr Rosen Plevneliev handed the "Madarski Konnik", the high state order of Bulgaria, to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia, Mr L.Dugerjav on November 2.

The decree of the Bulgarian President says the Mongolian Ambassador to Bulgaria was awarded nthe order in recognition of his contributions to the strengthening of Bulgaria-Mongolia relations.

Mentioning that Mongolia and Bulgaria ties have a history of 65 years, President Rosen Plevneliev noted many important decisions have been made regarding the bilateral relations during the L.Dugerjav's term of office of the head of Mongolian diplomatic mission in Bulgaria. The Sixth Intergovernmental Committee has met and shaped new cooperation in political and economic spheres, and the cooperation in education has been broadened as more Mongolian students have been coming to Bulgaria to study, highlighted the President out of the achievements by L.Dugerjav.

"Mongolia is opening a research base next to that of the Bulgaria in Antarctica thanks to His efforts", remarked Mr Plevneliev and wished Mr L.Dugerjav health and happiness, and success in his further endeavors in sciences and other spheres.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

N.Korea Trying to Send Slave Labor to Mongolia

November 3 (The Chosunilbo) North Korea is seeking to send slave laborers to mines in Mongolia, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.

It remains to be seen whether the attempt will be successful as the UN Security Council deliberates further sanctions against the renegade country that could brand its labor exports as exploitative.

"The North Korean authorities recently set up ways to make use of its workforce, and keeps trying to make contacts with the Mongolian side," RFA quoted a Mongolian source as saying.

The source said Mongolia is recruiting foreign miners and the North will most likely jump at the opportunity.

Mongolia has employed North Korean workers since 2008. Their number peaked at 5,000 in 2013, but due to a recession there are now only about 1,000 left.

Link to article

 

UAE Ambassador received by the Mongolia FM to discuss economic cooperation

November 8 (UB Post) Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs B.Battsetseg met with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Mongolia Abdullah Al Tinij to exchange views on relations and cooperation between the two countries.

The Deputy Minister expressed her satisfaction with Mongolia's increased cooperation with the UAE and the opening of the new embassy of the UAE in Ulaanbaatar.

B.Battsetseg stressed that boosting economic cooperation, pursuing investment from the UAE, the issuance of a soft loan from the UAE, and encouraging collaboration between the nations' entrepreneurs are important.

The Ambassador stated that he has given entrepreneurs from the UAE information about possible areas for developing trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. He said that UAE companies are expected to participate in an international trade exhibition which will take place in Ulaanbaatar next April.

Ambassador Abdullah Al Tinij noted that Mongolia has the opportunity to have a booth at the Global Village Exhibition in Dubai. He also confirmed Mongolia's invitation to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister meets the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh 

November 4 (Government of India) A Mongolian delegation led by the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Khurelsukh Ukhna met the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh here today. 

Shri Rajnath Singh said India and Mongolia shared concerns on terrorism and strategic ties between the two countries have strengthened during the last year with the landmark visit of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Shri Rajnath Singh hoped the Secretary level talks will be soon held and the visit of the Indian team of Ministry of Home Affairs Senior Officers to Mongolia next month will be successful. 

Mongolian Deputy PM said there is no disagreement between the two sides and the two countries have deep economic and cultural ties. He said a large number of Mongolian students are pursuing higher studies in Indian Universities while about 40 Indian companies have invested in Mongolia. He said there was a big scope to further Indian investment in Mongolia's agriculture sector and exploiting the Central Asian nation's huge natural resources in the mining sector. 

Mr. Khurelsukh Ukhna also sought India's support for Mongolia's plans to host the next Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction at Ulaanbaatar in 2018. 

Link to release

Back to Headlines

FM welcomes Austrian Foreign Secretary General

Ulaanbaatar, November 11 (MONTSAME) On Friday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ts.Munkh-Orgil received the visiting Secretary General for Foreign Affairs of Austria, Mr Michael Linhart. FM Ts.Munkh-Orgil welcomed the current level of relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Austria, and highlighted the significance of increasing the frequency of high-rank visits and enriching bilateral ties with economic contents.

He also thanked the Government of Austria for providing EUR 40 million soft loan, in frameworks of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Financial Cooperation, and put forward a request to assist Mongolian students in obtaining visas in easier way and training Mongolian specialists of foreign relations and diplomacy in Austria.

Mongolia and Austria established diplomatic ties on July 1, 1963. Austria was the second western country who recognized Mongolia's independence.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Chinggis Khaan and his warriors to parade in D.C.

November 8 (news.mn) Chinggis Khaan, founder of the Mongol Empire, the largest land empire in the world, with his warriors are to parade in the United States on 24-26th of November. The parade organised by the Mongolian Embassy in Washington D.C. and Mongolians living in the U.S, aims to publicise the achievement of Chinggis Khaan and to promote Mongolia,.

Modern Mongolians will be transformed into Chinggis Khaan, his warriors, his mum and his wives! The parade will run from the Discovery Place Museum through Charlotte City. In addition, a Chinggis Khaan exhibition and cultural event will be held on 25-26th of November.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Chinese NPC Tibetan delegation visited Mongolia, SriLanka, and Myanmar

November 12 (People's Daily Online) The Tibetan delegation of the Chinese National People's Congress (NPC) concluded itsvisit to Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar on November 8, 2016.

The delegation is headed by Penba Tashi, Deputy to the People's Congress of TibetAutonomous Region and Vice Chairman of the Government of the Tibet AutonomousRegion.

The delegation arrived in Mongolia on October 30, 2016, and was welcomed byMiyegombo Enkhbold, chairman of the State Great Hural, Mongolia's parliament.

Enkhbold, also chairman of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), said that Mongoliaalways adheres to the consistent stand of supporting China in issues concerning Tibet.

During the meeting, Penba Tashi introduced to the Mongolian side major achievementsmade in the socioeconomic development of Tibet.

The delegation has also met with Mongolian parliament members from the Mongolia-China friendship group in the State Great Hural and representatives from the localacademic and religious communities. 

Link to article

Back to Headlines

PM meets with ambassadors of Laos, Australia, and Czech Republic

November 11 (UB Post) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat met with the heads of the foreign diplomatic missions of Laos, Australia, and the Czech Republic on November 9 to discuss bilateral relations and upcoming activities.

In his meeting with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Australia to Mongolia John Langtry, J.Erdenebat pointed out that relations and cooperation between the two countries has been expanding in the areas of education, investment, mining, and agriculture. Ambassador Langtry noted that since 1994, Australia has granted government scholarships to nearly 440 Mongolian students.

The Prime Minister highlighted that the 2016-2020 government action plan was designed to enhance the legal and regulatory environment for foreign investors and entrepreneurs in the Mongolian mining sector, a primary area of interest for many Australian investors.

He noted that Cabinet is concentrating on implementing mega projects and that he toured operations and underground construction at Oyu Tolgoi during his tour of the South Gobi.

The PM received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Lao People's Democratic Republic to Mongolia Sialounkone Seng-Outhone and expressed his satisfaction in working with an experienced diplomat contributing to developing relations and cooperation between the two countries.

He asked the ambassador to study Mongolian livestock meat exports, which was discussed with Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith during the ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar.

The ambassador stated that two Laotian companies are interested in importing meat from Mongolia to Laos, and that discussions are taking place. During the meeting, they also discussed preparations for a meeting of the Mongolia-Laos intergovernmental commission, which will be held in Ulaanbaatar next year.

Ambassador Seng-Outhone said that he will collaborate with Mongolia to develop cooperation in all fields. He also noted that the Mongolian president and Cabinet members have visited Laos, but that the Prime Minister had not visited Laos.

The ambassador invited Prime Minister J.Erdenebat to pay an official visit to Laos in 2017, on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to Mongolia Ivana Grollova was received by the PM to discuss the implementation of agreements that have been reached.

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat expressed his satisfaction with Mongolia's successful cooperation with the Czech Republic and noted that he will focus on expanding relations and cooperation between the two countries.

Ambassador Grollova said that trade and economic cooperation between the two countries have actively developed. She asked the PM to continue to support projects that have been implemented by the Czech Republic since 1996, and to sign a cooperation agreement between the governments of the Czech Republic and Mongolia soon.

At the end of their meeting, the ambassador invited Prime Minister J.Erdenebat to pay an official visit to the Czech Republic at his convenience.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolian permanent rep to UN delivers speech on HRC meeting

Ulaanbaatar, November 9 (MONTSAME) On 4 November 2016, H.E. Mr. Sukhbold Sukhee, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN, made a statement at the 41st Plenary Meeting of the UNGA 71 on Report of the Human Rights Council (HRC).

In the beginning of his speech, Ambassador S.Sukhbold commended resolutions and decisions delivered by HRC this year to address human rights issues. Moreover, the tenth anniversary of HRC celebrated this year served as an opportunity to reflect on the Council's achievements and challenges, assess lessons learned, and prescribe necessary changes toward a stronger and more effective institution.

Permanent Representative also underlined that in 2016, Mongolia served first year of its HRC membership. As a new member of the Council, Mongolia is focusing on a number of priority issues such as ensuring gender equality, protecting the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities, fighting human trafficking in all its forms, fighting racial and gender discrimination, abolishing the death penalty, promoting freedom of opinion and expression, and promoting freedom of assembly and association.

While concluding, Permanent Representative S.Sukhbold expressed his belief that the HRC's working methods and efficiency will be further improved and will stay a solid platform for enhanced and open discussion on global human rights challenges as in the last decade, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolian media delegation impressed by Guangzhou's tradition and modernity

November 7 (newsgd.com) "Guangdong is the largest economy in China. How could the province gain such a rapid economic growth? We are here to find out the reasons beneath the province's development."Mr. Galaarid Badam-Ochir, President of Confederation of Mongolian Journalists, explained the purpose of an 18-media-member delegation visiting Guangzhou on Saturday.

The Mongolian delegation consists of local editor, journalist and director started their tour in China. After 3-day-visit of Guizhou, a southwestern province with vivid minority culture in China, the group arrived at Guangzhou to explore another experience of China.

Zhao Shunguo, Deputy Inspector of the State Council Information Office, said the state council invited Mongolian journalists to visit and report China for a few years. Mongolia is an important neighbor to China. Media plays an important role on bilateral communication, which benefits Sino-Mongolia relation and civil understanding.

The delegation visited Guangzhou NINED Digital Technology Co. Ltd., a local leading manufacturer of virtual reality (VR) product and 3D Printing industrial park on Friday.

Mr. Galaarid Badam-Ochir, also the head of the delegation, said Guangdong is the highland of China's science and technology. The province's transforming and optimizing of the backwardness have accomplished fruitful results.

He said running high-tech is the key measure of Guangdong developing its economy. High-tech cooperation between Mongolia and Guangdong remains virgin land to be explored.

In addition to technology, the delegation also visited 289 Art Park, owned by Nanfang Media Group, which is seen as the frontline of creative culture in South China.

"I'm very exciting to visit Guangzhou. It impressed me so much." Mr. Enkhtuya Badarch, Head of the administration of Mongolian National Public radio and television. He said the 5-day visit in China gave him impression of both tradition and modernity. "As the neighbor country, Mongolia is happy and proud to have China to be its friendly partner."

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Hong Kong National Party reiterates call for independence at meeting with Mongolian exiles

Radicals strike defiant note as President Xi Jinping issues stern warning against separatism in any form

November 12 (South China Morning Post) The radical localist Hong Kong National Party has again demanded independence for the city at a meeting with Mongolian exiles in Japan.

Party convenor Andy Chan Ho-tin said in a statement on Friday that he and party spokesman Jason Chow Ho-fai were invited to the inaugural meeting of the world conference for Southern Mongolia (or Quriltai) in Tokyo on Thursday to discuss national independence and human rights in East Asia.

Chan, who was disqualified from the Legislative Council elections in August, said the party hoped to cooperate with Quriltai, formed by Mongolian political parties and people in exile, and Uygur, Tibetan, Taiwanese and mainland Chinese human rights organisations.

The pair would also meet the chairman of the Inner Mongolian People's Party, Temtsiltu Shobtsood.

"The Inner Mongolian and other political leaders have not shown any signs of giving up their own independence," the statement read. "The Hong Kong nation should thus, when there is still time, seize the day when Hong Kong's advantages yet still exist, and prepare ourselves to face the ever increasing efforts of our Chinese colonisers."

Link to full article

Back to Headlines

Ulaanbaatar to cooperate with Budapest on tourism projects

November 7 (news.mn) A Mongolian delegation led by P.Bayarkhuu, deputy for the Ulaanbaatar City infrastructure development authority, is currently visiting Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Yesterday, the delegation met Dr Gabor Bagdy, who is deputy head of finance in the Budapest city administration. During the meeting, the two sides agreed to further develop cooperation in tourism and investment in other sectors. Budapest has also agreed to support establishing joint ventures in Ulaanbaatar. (source: www.ulaanbaatar.mn.)

Link to article

Related:

Ulaanbaatar and Budapest to boost cooperationMontsame, November 7

Back to Headlines

Mongolia film to be shown in series in Kenosha, WI

KENOSHA, WI, November 7 (The Journal Times) — As part of the 80th annual Travel Adventure series, the film "Mongolia: The Land of Genghis Khan" will be shown from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, in the Reuther High School auditorium, 913 57th St.

Located between China and Russia, the land-locked country of Mongolia is one of the few places on Earth where nomadic life is still a living tradition. The film will focus on the traditional hospitality of the nomads.

Admission is $5.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Health & Education

Soum doctors to hold Telemedicine conferences every Tuesday

November 7 (news.mn) As a part of 'Telemedicine' programme, doctors from local medical centers in 20 soum (districts) across Mongolia will now be able to meet via Skype. Doctors will hold meetings every Tuesday on Skype for training as well as help with maternity care.

Telemedicine is the clinical application for providing care at a distance. It includes a growing variety of applications and services utilizing two-way video, e-mail, and other forms of telecommunications technology.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Government bans advertisement and procurement of organ donation

Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) The cabinet considered and approved the concept of draft new wording of the Law on Donors. when adopted, the revised law will encourage conducting organ transplant operations in Mongolia to reduce outflow of money abroad, promote deceased organ donation and protect live donors.

It sets out prohibition of advertisement of organ donation and procurement between donors and patients, which will prevent human trafficking.

The law was adopted in 2000, and amended in 2012.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

UN backs Mongolia-initiated resolution on eradicating illiteracy

Ulaanbaatar, November 4 (MONTSAME) Mongolia-proposed a draft resolution on education of literacy was approved at the plenary session of the 71st UNGA Third Committee, held November 3. United Nations' 101 member states agreed to be the co-authors of the resolution.

Despite the decades of universal efforts on improving literacy throughout the world, there are over 760 million illiterate adults, and some 250 million of the total of 650 million children of age of primary school are living under a condition without an access to education of literacy, says the introduction to the document.

The issue of literacy education was included as a separate article in the Sustainable Development Goals beyond 2015.

The revised resolution on education of literacy outlines an importance of joint commitment to and investment from all parties in implementation of the Global Alliance for Literacy and the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

The essence of the resolution is that it raises concern about the education of literacy for those children, who are from the vulnerable groups, rural regions and living under conditions of humanitarian crises. 

Mongolia was recorded to have 98.4 percent literacy rate in 2015.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

ADB, UNICEF Sign Cooperation Agreement to Improve Water, Sanitation, Hygiene in Schools in Western Region

ULANBATAAR, MONGOLIA, November 3 (ADB) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF)–Mongolia signed a cooperation agreement to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in schools and dormitories located in rural remote areas of the western region.

This operational cooperation seeks to expand and sustain WASH in schools and dormitories to be supported under the ADB-administered Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) grant for Improving School Dormitory Environment for Primary Students in Western Region Project and a WASH program by UNICEF–Mongolia.

"ADB and UNICEF–Mongolia have, in recent years, initiated a partnership for improving WASH in schools and dormitories," said Yolanda Fernandez Lommen, ADB's Country Director in Mongolia. "Poor condition in schools and dormitories has been one of the critical barriers to ensuring equal access to quality education in rural remote areas. By working together, we can use our comparative strengths and develop innovative solutions in remote rural areas where access to water supply, sewerage, and heating remains a challenge."

"Improving sanitation and hygiene practices for children, their parents and teachers is a priority area for UNICEF's work in Mongolia," said Roberto Benes, UNICEF–Mongolia Representative. "By partnering with ADB we will maximize potential to ensure that children in remote areas have equitable, sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation services in their schools and dormitories, thus, improving their health and learning performance too."

As part of the cooperation, ADB and UNICEF–Mongolia will support the repair, installation, operations and maintenance of WASH facilities that meet the minimum requirements set by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports and the Ministry of Health in 2015. ADB and UNICEF–Mongolia will also develop and disseminate knowledge and build local capacity for better designing, planning and maintaining WASH facilities in schools and dormitories and for promoting hygiene, safe drinking water, and sanitation.

ADB approvals in Mongolia amounted to $297.5 million in 2015, including 4 sovereign loans for $275 million, 2 project grants for $6 million, and 17 technical assistance grants for $16.5 million.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Dentist to give presentation missions to Mongolia

November 10 (The Landmark) The Holden Woman's Club is planning an informative and entertaining Power Point presentation by Dr. Marshall Horwitz titled, "The Art of Tooth Extraction and Goat Cooking in Mongolia," which will focus on his missions to that country.

Dr. Horwitz, a Worcester dentist and Holden resident, will speak on Nov. 16 at the Gale Free Library Program Room at 1:30 p.m. Dr. Horwitz has served on nine medical missions to remote areas of Asia and Eastern Europe.

Both men and women are encouraged to attend this lively presentation, and should feel free to bring a friend. Admission is free, but items for the food pantry are encouraged.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia to train Energy-Saving managers

Ulaanbaatar, November 7 (MONTSAME) The German Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ) is launching the first-ever Energy Saving Managers' training in Mongolia, in the scope of the Efficiency of grid-based energy supply schemes project.

With the implementation of the Law on Energy Saving, new vacancies are emerging for energy saving managers or auditors. The training program was co-authored by a German company and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Civil defense training center opens

Ulaanbaatar, November 8 (MONTSAME) The Emergency Response Training and Methodology Center for Civilians of Ulaanbaatar opened on November 8. The center, based in Khan-Uul district, has training cabinets for every type of disasters.

For instance, the earthquake cabinet will make trainees feel the shake with strength of up to 8 ball earthquake, imitating the Sichuan Earthquake from 2008, in which 69.2 thousand were killed and 18 thousand people went missing.

The wall climbing cabinet offers training for teenagers aged above 15 years. The center also has fire-fighting and first-aid departments, as well as a 3D cinema with 150 seats for screening awareness-raising documentaries about disasters.

The center is capable to train 750 citizens each year.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia attends World Cancer Congress

November 8 (Voice of Mongolia) Mongolia attends World Cancer Congress. Over 3,000 medical experts and physicians from about 130 countries are assembling in Paris to seek ways of preventing cancer and intervening in the growth of cancer cases. Mongolian doctor of medical science B.Tsetsegsaikhan is attending the congress upon an invitation owing her essay, along with those written by seven other young leaders from different countries, on the unconventional approaches for reducing the non-communicable disease cases by 2030. Young leaders from 120 countries have submitted their essays to the congress, out of which eight essays were selected, written by professionals from Mongolia, Australia, Brazil, the U.S., Kenya, Rwanda and Argentina. 

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Doctors improve their communication skills with Luxembourg help

Ulaanbaatar, November 9 (MONTSAME) Medical practitioners of the Third State Clinic are receiving training for better communication skills, in frameworks of the implementation of the Cardiovascular Centre, Health of Mothers and Children and the Expansion of E-Healthcare. The project is being carried out with non-refundable aid from the Government of Luxembourg.

The training aims to help doctors and personnel of the hospital to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their everyday communication with patients and patients' families, and how to correct their shortcomings.

Major part of the training focuses on ways to avoid and reduce stress, which is the cause of discouragement and misunderstanding, and to create pleasant atmosphere, where everyone feels respected and understood.

Trainers from the Pill Primetime International Academy are conducting the training, which will complete on November 19.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

National University of Mongolia formalizes cooperation with Moscow Higher School of Economics

Ulaanbaatar, November 10 (MONTSAME) The leaders of the two institutions signed a cooperation memorandum on November 1. In accordance with this, the National University of Mongolia and the Higher School of Economics of Moscow will cooperate in wide range of spheres, such as exchange of professors and students, holding workshops and training, establishing a research center for Mongolia-Russia relations, history and culture and organizing Russian language courses and official tests.

In celebration of the newly bound cooperation, HSE Professor Aleksei A.Maslov delivered a presentation themed "Russia in Modernized Asia: new challenges and new ideas" on November 1 at the NUM.

The HSE was founded in 1992, with an objective to train specialists competent to work in the new economic environment. The university was developed into an interdisciplinary university in 20 years, and enlarged 10 times, with campuses available in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Perm. The university instituted more than a hundred research centers, and has 2,500 professors and 27,000 students.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

International Jewelry Designer Cherry Chau visits Lotus Children's Centre in Mongolia

Earlier this month Cherry Chau visited Lotus and spent a weekend teaching the children the art of decorative felting

November 10 (Just Volunteers) --

Link to photos

Back to Headlines

Australia Awards scholarship program could be resumed for Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, November 10 (MONTSAME) J.Erdenebat, the Prime Minister of Mongolia, received Wednesday John Langtry, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Australia to Mongolia, in the State House.

In noting that the 45th anniversary of the Mongolia-Australia diplomatic relations will be celebrated next year, the Premier emphasized the bilateral friendly relations have been widening in the fields of education, investment, mining and agriculture.

In turn, the Ambassador said his country started to grant governmental scholarships to Mongolian students from 1994, and about 440 Mongolians have been trained in Australia so far with the Australia Awards scholarships.

"As Australia is one of the leading countries in preparing professionals especially for the mining industry, the country is possible to resume the scholarship program for Mongolian students," Langtry said.

Since the government actions program sets out making environment for mining investors better as one of its main goals, mega projects are high on the list of priorities, Erdenebat underlined. He also talked about his tour last weekend to the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Umnugobi (South Gobi) province to get familiar with the mine's activities and construction works in underground mine.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Korea transfers occupational safety and health knowhow to Mongolia

November 10 (The Korea Times) In the 1980s and 1990s, Korea was a recipient of technology transfers and training about occupational safety and health from Germany.

As part of official development aid (ODA), Germany sent officials to Korea to help establish a law that would provide technological, organizational and legal standards to promote safety at industrial worksites. Korean labor officials also visited Germany for on-site training.

Now, 30 years later, Korea is providing the same service to developing countries.

Korea drew up its first occupational safety and health act in 1981, which underwent total revision, with the help of foreign assistance, in 1990.

Established in 1987, the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) has been hosting safety training workshops for developing countries since 2004.

This week, it hosted a week-long program at its training center in Ulsan for labor supervisors from Mongolia's General Agency for Specialized Inspection (GASI) — an annual event which has taken place for over a decade.

It covered methodologies of investigating and analyzing industrial accidents and how to draw up related statistics as well as risk assessment. The program also included a course on managing chemicals and a visit to a construction site.

"As the participants are supervisors overseeing occupational safety at workplaces, they found lectures on risk assessment helpful," said Erdenesukh Nergui, head of external cooperation and public relations at GASI.

"We will reflect on the content we learned when revising the law, provide lectures on the same content and also draw up safety booklets when we go back."

The industrial health law in Mongolia was established in 2008 and the country is currently working on improving it.

"Managing chemicals is also a crucial sector to be improved in Mongolia," said Jargal Nomindari of the National Reference Laboratory of Food Safety.

"Based on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), we will revise areas which need improvement at the laboratory, concerning the toxicity of chemicals."

Meanwhile, KOSHA is discussing the establishment of a training institute in Mongolia.

In July, with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), it built one in Vietnam, also a country KOSHA has closely assisted in safety training.

"Although Korea still has room for improvement on occupational safety and health, we are providing what we were provided by countries such as Germany when we were in the early stages of developing our system," said Chun Sang-heon, head of public relations at KOSHA.

People also expressed worries that in this uncertain situation, Korea does not have a counterpart to Trump because President Park Geun-hye can barely do anything now following an influence-peddling scandal involving her aides.

A blogger with ID zmtk**** called for President Park's swift resignation. "The economy is only getting worse because of a leader who isn't capable of reading what's happening around the world. She and her confidant (Choi Soon-sil) must go."

Some consider themselves similar to many Democratic voters in America.

"I can understand how they feel," one Facebook user, surnamed Lim, wrote.

"I had the same sense of despair when Lee Myung-bak was elected. Bear in mind, Americans! Korea paid and is paying a lot for having Lee and Park as presidents.

"Americans will also have to pay for electing Trump as president. The tragedy is that it's not just Americans who will have to pay because America is a powerful country. I keep my fingers crossed for America."

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Reforming higher education

November 3 (UB Post) Annual tuition at what is considered by many to be the top K-12 school in the country, International School of Ulaanbaatar (ISU), can be as high as 81 million MNT. In contrast, the annual tuition of what is considered by many to be the top university in the country, National University of Mongolia (NUM), is four million MNT. At first glance, since ISU is privately owned and NUM is state owned, this gap might seem like a matter of private institution versus public institution costs. The gap might even look like the ideal when looking at it without context. However, when delving deeper, signs of a more systemic problem begin to show.

Admittedly, the ISU's tuition is a bit of an outlier, but many other private schools have tuitions that are double or triple that of NUM's, the nation's "top" university. These private schools do not charge exorbitant amounts just for the sake of it, the quality of education and the school facilities that they offer seem to justify their tuition. The primary and secondary education systems seem to have a well-balanced mix between private and public institutions, which allows the market to dictate private school tuition. While the higher education system also has a mix of private and public institutions, the market has been in a choke hold under the standards set by the country's more well-established public universities.

Generally speaking, the tuition of a university being low is a great thing. It allows more equal opportunity for people of all backgrounds to receive higher education. In Mongolia, the aforementioned gap is indicative of the devaluation of higher education. There is no hierarchy of universities; 24,000 students attend the nation's "top" university. The selection process is too lenient for what is supposed to be Mongolia's best higher education institution. While there are hundreds of private schools competing for the brightest young minds, there are only a handful of established (mostly state owned and run) universities. Since the majority of university students study at the same select universities, their degrees have less prestigious value. This results in a seemingly educated yet redundant workforce. According to a 2015 study from the Labor Research Institute, of the 45,000 students graduating annually only 28,000 have found jobs. This leaves 17,000 students unemployed. The limited amount of choices leaves less opportunity for students to stand out, and results in more people looking to receive their higher education abroad.

Nowadays, thousands of students go abroad each year to study, in search of a higher quality higher education. The main reason for this seems to be the shortcomings of domestic universities. This has resulted in a major "brain drain", with the most talented and capable young minds staying and working in the countries where they've received their degrees. This is already putting a strain on the development of the country, and will further negatively affect long term development. Improving higher education will create more incentive for students to stay, thereby slowing down the brain drain.

Granted, there is an underlying reason that many graduates do not come back: a lack of ideal jobs. Currently, the economy is not in a position to employ the qualified workforce that comes back with degrees from foreign universities. This is likely to improve as the economy develops and as local businesses are able to employ more people.

There is also a need to address the career redundancy problem in higher education. In the study done by the Labor Research Institute, there were approximately 2,000 jobs in the field of business administration, yet more than 5,000 to 6,000 students graduate in this field every year. This is a big factor in youth unemployment. There is a need to diversify the majors that universities offer, while also working to increase student interests in various fields through educational initiatives. The shortage of professional and capable Mongolian engineers, specifically mining engineers, has been well documented. As the mining output of the country intensifies and the number of mines increases, the demand for a professional workforce will follow suit.

We also need to realize that the prospect of a university education is not for everyone. Societal norms and pressures seem to push many unwilling students to enroll in universities. Realistically speaking, not everyone can thrive in an office setting. It is important to offer and make accessible the opportunity for higher education to everyone, but in our current situation, the job market is saturated with overqualified people. Therefore, there is a need to further develop technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions as a way to offer alternatives other than university. The TVET system was very well organized under socialism; it was a viable alternative to high school graduates not interested in higher education. The workforce that TVET institutions prepare can be as – if not more – valuable to society than the university educated workforce.

In terms of how to begin to change the higher education system, developing a partially-privatized state regulated higher education system would be the best step in improving universities. This is not to advocate for full-fledged privatization of the system. We have seen what excessive privatization can do, in particular, the case of the United States. However starting with privatizing a few of the state owned universities and further intensifying the diversification of institutions will create a system where universities will begin to compete for students. This healthy competition will incentivize universities to improve the quality of their education and their facilities. This would hopefully translate into university campuses being established outside of the city. Only then will we start to break away from the old Soviet-era system and begin to catch up with the global modern education system. The current top-heavy system does not allow for much competition. Letting the market decide where top honors go will ultimately be the best decision. Meanwhile, the government should operate select public universities and also focus on offering scholarships and loans to students who cannot otherwise afford higher education. Mongolia is a country that puts great emphasis on tertiary education, and as such, we know there is a demand for higher education. That demand will only increase as time goes on, so now is a critical time to reform our tertiary education system. Otherwise, we risk losing out on the global race for an educated workforce.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Culture & Society

Beyond the yurt: Mongolian life caught on camera

November 11 (CNN)When Paul Cox first started taking photos in Mongolia, he had to ensure his camera would stay hidden.

As a foreigner there to document the economic hardships endured by locals in the Chingeltei district of Ulaanbaatar, he was initially met with suspicion and distrust. His camera would alert his status as an outsider.

But after partnering with a local charity group, he was soon able to not only witness, but also capture the locals' most private moments -- documenting what he says is an unforgettable welcoming warmth in the Mongolian community.

The images captured since his first visit produced three full exhibitions. The most recent, Red Hero 3, went to auction in partnership with Christie's in Hong Kong this week.

Speaking to CNN Style, Cox reflected on his experiences documenting life in Mongolia.

CNN: Why did you decide to start photographing life in Mongolia?

Paul Cox: Someone I had previously worked with invited me to photograph there.

When I landed, I had no preconceived ideas about what it would be like. Tourists usually go to the countryside, but I was going to the city.

My initial explorations involved jumping into a taxi, pointing at directions I wanted to go, and yelling "Stop!" when I wanted to take a photo.

I had no real agenda or route in mind.

I was then introduced to the j, which invited me to photograph within the inner city itself.

This opened a whole new world as it granted me access to the private lives of locals.

CNN: What was your experience like in these communities?

Paul Cox: In weather conditions that hit -20 degrees or lower, people in the poorer areas of the city have no access to running water, no access to bathroom facilities, often living in little "yurts" or "gers" on dirt roads.

The community is nice once you get to know them, but I realized it can be very dangerous for foreigners.

As an outsider with a camera, I came across several altercations.

Read more: The secret life of transgender Mongolians

While roaming local market places, I not only felt the distrust from locals, but on several occasions locals attempted to punch me.

This frustration towards me, according to some locals that I spoke to, has as much to do with my camera as it does with me being a foreigner.

In the city areas, there is a very high unemployment rate, and as a foreigner, I represent the wealth that is being taken out of the country.

My camera also caused me problems because locals did not want their poor state of living to be photographed, due to a strong sense of pride.

CNN: Why did you feel it was important to take these portraits?

Paul Cox: What I saw was very different to the beautiful images people see of countryside -- the eagles, the sweeping planes of the desert.

My images are far from the standard representations of Mongolia.

CNN: How do the city and countryside compare?

While the city can be a hostile place for foreign photographers, the countryside and its beautiful people are some of the warmest most friendly people I have ever met.

I put this to the nomadic people, who have a strong identity here, a sense of purpose, and clearly defined gender roles.

Mongolia: Boom to economic nightmare

I believe that many in the city have lost this in some ways.

The roles have become blurred, alcoholism is rife, unemployment is around 60%. This stress creates this distrust, anger and social issues in my opinion.

CNN: Have you faced any specific challenges trying to get the perfect shot?

Paul Cox: One summer I was driving for six days to the border of Siberia to photograph the reindeer people (who use reindeer instead of yaks or cows.)

The land was vast and boundless, most of the bumpy roads don't show on Google maps, our car broke down so often that we needed to bring an extra vehicle on the ride. And at one point -- in June -- it suddenly started to snow.

Everything is unpredictable.

Watch: Why ancient Mongolian tribe sees reindeer as family

CNN: What photograph stands out to you most in this exhibit?

Paul Cox: The defining photo is "Red Hero 3."

The child in this photograph, we saw him by chance because we crossed paths when he was playing, and he was looking at me. He was an adorable child who was completely unafraid of strangers.

We engaged in a conversation with him and his family, and realized that his family has been struggling with the boy's epilepsy.

The photograph I took of him shows a wolf carpet on the wall, which is said to be used for both warmth and decoration. The wolf, very symbolic of Mongolian culture appears to stand guard over our hero. To me it speaks of the responsibility of the viewer and as a society to look after our future.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Old Mongolian manuscripts go on show in Saint Petersburg

November 9 (news.mn) Russia and Mongolia have enjoyed close relations for almost a century. Some of the events marking the official 95th anniversary of diplomatic ties include an academic forum and a concert in Ulaanbaatar. In Russia, old Mongolian manuscripts and books have gone on show at the Oriental Museum in the country's second city, the so-called "Northern Capital", Saint Petersburg. The Oriental Museum has over 147 valuable items from the Far East, the Middle East and Central Asia. There are also exhibits from Russia's Republic of Buryatia, which like Mongolia shares a common Tibetan Buddhist heritage and Chukotka in Russia's far north east. The museum's Mongolian manuscripts has been kept in the museum since it opened in 1998.

A Mongolian delegation led by D.Davaasuren, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently visiting Saint Petersburg.

Link to article

Related:

Manuscripts about Mongolian Nomads exhibited in MoscowMontsame, November 9

Back to Headlines

Preservation of the Archaeological Tomb of Shoroon Bumbagar continues

November 4 (gogo.mn) This project is designed to address the challenges of preserving, maintaining and safely and adequately displaying a funeral place of ancient nomadic nobles and mural paintings dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. in Bulgan Province to the west of Ulaanbaatar.

According to the cooperation between UNESCO and Principality of Monaco the "Capacity-Building and Awareness-Raising for the Preservation, Conservation, Presentation and Sustainable Management of the archeological site of Shoroon Bumbagar of mountain Maikhan in Bulgan Province" project was carried out for 4 years since 2015.

This project aims to provide support and assistance to mitigate the above challenges by laying the foundations for integrated and sustainable preservation of the tomb. Proposed interventions will involve mapping, monitoring and preservation of the tomb and mural paintings through a series of training sessions and workshops; building capacity of various stakeholders in conservation and management; targeted research and surveying of the pressures on the site and fostering awareness of the general public on the significance of preserving the resources within this property for the benefit of Mongolians and the international community.

During the above mentioned project the first step theory and practical workshop was organized under the name of "Preservation of the Archaeological Tomb of Shoroon Bumbagar and Conservation of Ancient Mural Paintings" between 19th October to 07th November, 2015 in Ulaanbaatar city and Bayannuur archeological site. The project second practically workshop of "Preservation of the Archaeological Tomb of Shoroon Bumbagar and Conservation of Ancient Mural Paintings" was successfully organized during the 05-19th September 2016 in Shoroon bumbagar archeological site of Bayannuur, Bulgan province.  

The next step workshop will be organizing under the purpose of raise the awareness of local communities about the importance of Mongolia's cultural heritage and to improve public appreciation of archeological sites in spring and autumn of 2017 and brought together with local stakeholders, specialists, governor officers of Bulgan province, Bayannur town, Lun town, Dashinchilen town.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Symbolism of Mongolian wedding ring

November 7 (MONTSAME) The distinctive feature of Mongolian traditional wedding ring is in its unique design and symbolism. Traditionally, the groom's ring is called "Khaan buguivch" and bride's one - "Khatan suikh".

The groom's wedding ring has two crowns crossed with one another. The shape of the male ring is round resembling the Mongolian ger (yurt) which has a round crown which is called the "toono" (the circular opening at the top of the Mongolian yurt).

This means the husband symbolizes the hearth protecting his wife and family.

The female ring has a shape of a square which is similar to the shape of the Mongolian ger "bagana" or columns. It is supposed to represent the column that holds up the ger's top. This means the wife supports her husband as the columns does the ger top.

The two eyes (circles) inside the ring symbolizes the couple, whereas the outer three circles means the firm bonds to the parents, siblings and relatives. The two crossed crown shapes means the couple will live together forever and happily.

The groom wears his wedding ring on the right hand ring finger which means he honors her respect. The bride wears her wedding ring on the left hand wedding ring finger. This symbolizes that she is in his heart.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Opinion: Why Mongolia and North Dakota aren't economic miracles

November 7 (Zocalo on KCRW) Where does an economist who works in the Pacific Rim go on vacation? This summer, I chose Mongolia, and not only because it is remote and has beautiful glaciated mountains. I also chose it for its reputation for economic potential.

I went with some preconceptions. For one thing, I had read that ayrag, home-fermented horse milk, was widely consumed and not for the faint of heart. For another, I knew investors were high on the Mongolian economy, which has seen a tenfold increase in GDP since the fall of communism.  The analysts are consistent: Mongolia is a great place to invest even though its GDP growth has slowed significantly since hitting double digits in 2014.

I arrived in the capital, Ulaanbaatar (UB), in early August. UB is a city of 1.4 million, half the population of the country, but it feels smaller. There are a few modern structures—like the famous blue taco, a high-rise hotel and office building that resembles its nickname. For the most part, however, this is a city of yurts (one-third of the people live in them) and old socialist-style buildings. In the center is the government palace complete with a giant statue of Chingas Kahn (for Mongolians–no hard g) and a massive square reminiscent of Tiananmen.

So where was the supposed economic dynamism hiding?

My search would continue, but first it was time for some climbing. The trip to the Altai Tavan Bogd Mountains began with a three-hour flight on Hunnu Airlines to Ölgii, which, with 30,000 inhabitants, is the seventh largest city in Mongolia.

From Ölgii we traveled seven hours by Russian four-wheel drive over a maze of dirt tracks to the national park gate and then hiked into the mountains. Over the next nine days, thoughts on the Mongolian economy were drowned out by the mountains of western Mongolia, with its large glaciers, tundra, sweeping views, and snow fields.

In the Altai you feel you are about as far away from California, where I live, as possible.  The region is home to nomadic Kazaks, and while they have some trappings of the Western world, they still work their herds on horseback and cut grass by hand with homemade scythes.

Once back in Ölgii I noticed that the stores had mostly Russian products. The people were poor, but not starving. I did find ayrag, the highly touted horse milk, in a little out-of-the-way shop, and it lived up to its reputation—strong with a sour and long-lasting aftertaste.

I also saw more clearly why this country, despite its dynamic economy reputation, didn't seem so promising on the ground. The problem lies in the engine of Mongolia's growth: extractive industries.

In boom times the few—the very few who work removing riches from the ground— accumulate wealth and share some of it by spending in the domestic economy. But mines and oil fields employ lots of capital and not many people. If a country is largely rural, as Mongolia is, most of it may be untouched.

When commodity prices fall, as they did in 2015 (coal and copper were off by more than 30 percent), that growth turns on a dime (hence the fall in the rate of Mongolia's GDP growth). While starkly clear in Mongolia and less so in Texas and Louisiana, the phenomenon is present in all three.

Much has been written on how countries can be cursed by an abundance of natural resources. What I saw in Mongolia confirmed that if the windfall gains from natural resources are not turned into the building blocks of a diversified economy, like education and infrastructure, the promise of mineral wealth will be squandered.

Mongolians I met didn't complain about this much. I was treated generously, and I appreciated how absent modern stresses were from life there. But the lack of economic opportunity has a deep human cost; many Mongolian youth are working abroad.

As my departing flight to Beijing ascended over the glass buildings and sheepskin yurts of UB, it occurred to me that Mongolia can teach us much about economic miracles. A North Dakota or Texas miracle may be real, but it may also be ephemeral.

Also, now that I know how to ride a Mongolian horse bareback, if Chingas Kahn and the Golden Horde ever ride again, I have a fallback to working as an economist.

This is the first Pacific Economist column from UCLA Anderson School of Management economist Jerry Nickelsburg. He may be reached at Jerry.Nickelsburg@Anderson.UCLA.edu or via Twitter @jnickelsburg.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Hong Kong photo auction to help Mongolia's suffering tent children

November 4 (South China Morning Post) As parents struggle with alcoholism and unemployment, the Tsolmon Ireedui Foundation and photographer Paul Cox aim to make a difference in Ulan Bator, where many families live in 'yurt' tents

When they found Dolgoon, the 18-month-old girl had been left alone, her hand tied to a mattress, in a small home in one of the poorest suburbs of the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator. It was mid-October, minus 6 degrees Celsius outside, and she was cold, thirsty and hungry.

Her mother, a single parent of four who struggles with alcoholism, had left her in the care of her older brother, six, who'd gone to a friend's house to escape the cold.

"We went to search for her brothers and we found them in one of the houses in the neighbourhood watching TV," says Tsolmon Chimgee, founder of the Tsolmon Ireedui Foundation (TIF), who grew up in the area. "We gave warm clothes to Dolgoon and her brothers. We gave them a hot meal, and some coal to warm the house and cook for the next few days, and some money."

WATCH: the story of little Dolgoon

Dolgoon's case is one of the many that inspired Chimgee and her family to start the small Hong Kong-registered charity that provides care for children in impoverished Ulan Bator's Chingeltei district. They bought a small building in 2010 and opened a small kindergarten. By 2013, they'd raised enough funds to build a laryurt house, and can now welcome 50 children.

Mongolia's nomads: masters of their destiny in a changing world

"It's a very poor area and you have a lot of dysfunctional families: drunk parents, divorced parents or the father is dead, so it's very challenging for these kids," says Chimgee's husband of 15 years, Marc-Henry Lebrun, the charity's treasurer.

It's not uncommon for infants to be left in the care of older siblings, he adds. "This is problematic, as it means the older brother drops out of school. Also, they're just kids so they go off to play with their friends and leave the little brother or sister alone."

On November 8, the Tsolmon Ireedui Foundation is holding a "Red Hero" ("Ulan Bator" translated) auction of photographs by Hong Kong-based photographer Paul Cox. The auction is supported by Christie's and The Reserve, and all profits will go to the charity. It's the foundation's third auction: the first two raised more than HK$500,000 from the sale of 19 photos, enough to keep the day care centre running for six months.

This time Cox has 18 pictures, featuring intimate family portraits from inside yurts – Mongolian tent homes – and other impressions of the country from his time on the road. He admits it was a challenging assignment.

"Chingeltei district is quite rough," says Cox, who hails from Zimbabwe. "I was told not to go out on my own. If I took a picture of people they were very distrustful – I've had people pulling me or wanting to punch me three or four times."

Alcoholism is part of daily life in many of the city's vast yurt settlements, where 62 per cent of the population is unemployed, according to the World Bank. Cox says it was normal to see fights at the local markets, drunks swinging at each other in broad daylight or passed out on the floor. "I've been to the district six times and saw a fight every time – except this last time. I didn't see a fight but was standing at the bottom of some stairs, and the doors to a shop opened and a man rolled down the stairs and landed at my feet. Just completely drunk."

It's predominantly the men who binge drink, and according to a 2015 World Health Organisation report, the average life expectancy for men in Mongolia is under 65 – far lower than that of women (73).

It's evident from Cox's intimate photos, shot with a Leica, and his anecdotes how personally involved he became with the cause. Another clue is the "Red Hero" tattoo, written in Mongolian script, on the inside of his forearm. "I really love the people," he says. "Their uniqueness, their pride, their identity and their culture. You still get that warmth, but you have to go digging for it. When you go into somebody's house, suddenly their culture comes out and no matter how poor they are they'll offer you tea."

Before becoming a photographer, Cox worked as a plumber in Spain, and served in the British Army with the Royal Artillery and the Royal Marine Reserves. He believes his military training helped prepare him for working in tough environments. "I had a lot of discipline, and also learned not to give up," he says. "In some ways the yurt areas are like being in a Mad Max movie. But I like the fact that it's not easy to photograph there."

In the countryside, gender roles are clearly defined: the men hunt, herd and slaughter the animals, while the women cook, clean and milk. However, as families move to the suburbs, the roles have blurred.

"Men have had a lot of their identity – and their role of being the breadwinner which they had originally as nomads – taken away," says Cox.

"Some nomads in Mongolia are considered rich," says Lebrun. "Hundreds of horses, sheep and goats; that's big in terms of wealth. You cannot really start from scratch – what are you going to do, buy two sheep and wait for them to reproduce? So the very poor people living in the suburbs of Ulan Bator can't go back and become nomads again."

Photo essay: Mongolia's fearless child jockeys race for glory at Naadam

More than half of Mongolia's population of 2.8 million live in the city, with more migrating there each year. Some go in search of jobs, others are forced to leave the countryside when a dzud (severe winters that wipe out millions of livestock) kills off their livelihood. A widening wealth gap and lack of affordable housing means the yurt districts are growing.

With temperatures dropping to minus 40 degrees, the cold is omnipresent in Mongolia. Cox recalls arriving in Ulan Bator on his first visit, in the winter of 2013. "There were two of us in the foreigners' queue at customs," he says. "And the cold: everything hurts, it's so uncomfortable. Even your snot freezes when you're breathing. It's so dry my nose would bleed. My skin would peel."

The city's water supply is heated to prevent it from freezing, and the giant pipes act as a massive public central heating system. The heating does not extend to Chingeltei district, though, and the foundation's kindergarten is one of only two buildings in the district to have running water.

Government support is minimal, explains Lebrun. "There's no safety net. If you lose your job, and you don't have assets, you end up in the slums very quickly. It's not like other places, where you have unemployment support. It's a very poor country."

Winners and losers in Mongolia's mining gold rush

Mongolia is rich in resources, including gold, coal and copper, and Lebrun says it has the potential to be the next New Zealand in terms of meat and milk exports, but they don't have the industry or infrastructure to back it up.

"The mining boom did not benefit the vast majority of people," he says, "and it's already over. Commodity prices dropped, and the Chinese buy from Mongolia on the cheap; they tell them, if you don't sell to me, who are you going to sell to?"

When the huge Oyu Tolgoi mine in the Gobi Desert reaches full capacity in a few years its output will represent a third of the country's GDP, and a massive boost in foreign investment. But will any of the money it generates trickle down to families like Dolgoon's?

"That's a responsibility of the government," says Lebrun. "But I don't think any Mongolians believe that it's going to change for the better any time soon. So what we want to do is to try to give a chance to these kids, because they didn't ask for this life."

Aside from the auction, the charity's main source of income is derived from a mountain biking event held yearly in Mongolia. The next one will be in June 2017, and the charity is looking for corporate partners. "Our challenge is to raise the funds to keep the centre running for as long as possible," says Lebrun. "And if someone were to give us US$1 million we could build 10 centres, no problem."

Dolgoon attended the foundation's kindergarten and was later adopted by a nomad family. "We see her from time to time and she is growing well," says Chimgee. Her brother returned to school, and another of her brothers dreams of becoming an Olympic wrestler, so the foundation is paying for him to do judo classes.

"Our target is to put the little ones in a safe environment, with hot meals, regular doctor's check-ups," says Lebrun. "And to put the bigyurt kids back in school. The district's public school has heating, lights, teachers, everything. So it's a very good chance for the children's future."

Doors open for the Red Hero 3 auction at 6.30pm on November 8 at the Kee Club in Central. The sale begins at 7.30pm. For details: www.tifcharity.org

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: focus on hope

Link to article

Back to Headlines

'Horse Packing In Mongolia' presented Nov. 11

November 3 (Missoulian) The Shining Mountains Chapter of Montana Wilderness Association and the Back Country Horsemen present "Horse Packing In Mongolia" at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at Opportunity Resources Inc., 2821 S. Russell St.

Join Deborah and Greg Schatz, longtime and experienced packers from the Flathead Valley, as they travel through the wild open land of Darhad Valley. Explore Mongolia through their stories and photos to learn how the local herders are more like folks in Montana than you may think.

Deborah and Greg have enjoyed riding and packing most of their lives. With the knowledge gained from Back Country Horsemen they have packed thousands of miles in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park. After meeting Cliff Montagne of BioRegions International at the MWA Wildfest in 2014, they were invited to join him on a trip to Mongolia to exchange packing techniques with local herders.

For more information, contact daphne.herling@mso.umt.edu.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Charlene Woods: Mission Report from Mongolia

November 3 (Christ Community Church Montreat Podcast) --

Link to audio

Back to Headlines

Traditions of the gaucho, cowboy, and Mongol

November 11 (Buenos Aires Herald) Yesterday was Tradition Day, which in Argentina specifically means a celebration of gaucho culture. To mark it, I'd like to compare that culture, in some regards, with those of two other groups of celebrated hard-riding plainsmen — the cowboys of the United States and the nomads of Mongolia. To jump right into this three-cornered game, take the question of how they catch an animal. The gaucho's traditional method is to hurl the boleadoras — cords with stones at their ends — at its legs. Cowboys favour the lasso or lariat, swung so as to encircle its neck.

Mongols employ a system that requires the exertion of less skill for this particular job. They don't have to practise any aim here. Instead, they reach out with a very long, thin stick with a big rope noose dangling from the end, the rest of the rope running along the side of the pole. Once they have slipped it around the animal's head, they pull on the rope's other end. Of course, they still have to do this at a swerving gallop.

In general terms, all three cultures developed to handle similar tasks. In the details, gaucho and cowboy cultures are closer to each other than either of them is to that of the Mongols, which of course is not surprising — not primarily because of greater geographical proximity but because of common historical links, to Spain. Cowboys derived a considerable part of their craft from Spanish-speaking horsemen in the borderlands that the US was in contact with, and eventually took over.

(As some "Mexican-Americans" say in the US, "we didn't come to the United States. The United States came to us.")

The heyday of the cowboys was the period of the epic cattle drives from Texas to markets to the east — between the end of the Civil War and the time when the railroads covered the whole stretch and moved the cattle not on hooves but on steel wheels. But the great drives weren't an invention of those days. Bernardo de Gálvez, the Spanish colonial official after whom the city of Galveston is named, organized cattle drives from Texas to Louisiana (another territory that in his time was in Spanish hands) a full century before the US cowhand era.

He-men, milk and booze

Of the three groups, the Mongolian herders are those who have maintained their culture the most. Having had a chance to observe it firsthand, I think their biggest difference with gauchos and with cowboys resides in their attitude toward — milk.

The plainsmen of the Americas may work with cows all the time, but despise milk. He-men only drink hard stuff. The taunting of a perceived weakling with a drink of milk is a standard scene in Wild West movies. But Mongols seemingly quaff milk by the pailful. Cows generally don't take kindly to Mongolian weather, but the nomads use the milk of camels, mares, goats, yaks and anything else they can; they'd milk chickens if they could.

Inside their tents or ger (pronounced "gir" as in "girl," and known elsewhere as yurts), women are perpetually stirring cauldrons of it to make a rough yoghurt with lumps the size of fists. Even their strong drink, airag (pronounced "erk," and known elsewhere as kumis) is made with fermented mare's milk.

Where gauchos and cowboys habitually roast meat, Mongols boil it. In milk.

The gauchos' weapon of choice was a long knife. That of the cowboys, a revolver. The Mongols', a bow and arrow; their favourite sports still are archery and wrestling.

Gauchos and cowboys prefer to tie their horses to waist-high hitching posts or rails. Mongols put up posts twice as high, string a wire between the tops, and dangle the reins from there.

Crucially, unlike gauchos and cowboys, Mongols weren't fenced in. Their country remains largely wide open for them to travel through. They let their camels and most of their horses free at night, and ride out in the morning to track them wherever and however far they may have gone.

The gaucho saddle, with its many layers, mostly of thick cloth and sheepskin, is by far the most comfortable. Next comfy is the cowboy's leather saddle, not too different from the English saddle, save for its horn. One of the things that most struck me in Mongolia was some riders' habit of standing upright on their stirrups while galloping. I thought they did it to show off.

Until I examined and tried out their saddles — and found they were made of one cloth stretched over a wooden structure. Yes, their saddles are made of wood.

Gaucho know-how could have helped — when Mongols ride standing up, they aren't showing off. They're protecting their tushies.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

This 15-Year-Old Mongolian Eagle Huntress Deserves to Be the Next Elsa From Frozen

November 4 (The New York Magazine) Nurgaiv Rys, a nomadic eagle hunter from the remote Altai mountains in Mongolia, didn't set out to take on the Kazakh patriarchy. When his 13-year-old daughter, Aisholpan, asked if she could hunt with golden eagles — a practice passed down through the men in their family for 12 generations — he did not envision how their story would resonate with viewers across the world. He simply believed that Aisholpan should be able to do whatever the boys could do.

"People say she should not be doing this, so I worry for her," explains Nurgaiv in a new documentary about his daughter, The Eagle Huntress, out this week. "But I think boys and girls are equal." Directed by English filmmaker Otto Bell and executive-produced by Morgan Spurlock and Daisy Ridley (who also serves as narrator), The Eagle Huntress details Aisholpan's quest to continue her family's legacy, traditional gender roles be damned.

Bell first discovered Aisholpan after seeing a series of viral photographs by Israeli photographer Asher Svidensky in 2014. It's not hard to see why the photo resonated with the likes of Bell and Ridley (as well as Sia, who wrote the movie's theme song): Clad in her traditional hunting garb, a 15-pound eagle leaping from her outstretched hand, Aisholpan looks like like a heroine dreamed up in the laboratories of Disney or Pixar, a ready-made avatar of feel-good Girl PowerFortunately, the story is just as good as the pictures. 

Shot amid the soaring mountain vistas of western Mongolia, the film chronicles then-13-year-old Aisholpan's quest to capture an eagle of her own, hunting on horseback with her father, and her eventual journey to the Golden Eagle Festival in Ölgii, where she is both the youngest contestant and the first woman ever to take part. A mode of hunting dating back thousands of years, eagle hunting is a form of falconry that involves riding on horseback and catching small prey with a trained bird as one's companion. Once used to catch food and fur, eagle hunting now lives on as an important cultural tradition. "It's very much a tradition tied up with men's self-identity. It goes beyond being a sport or pastime or hobby," says Bell. "There's almost a spiritual aspect as well."

Throughout the film, we hear testimony from a gaggle of scowling elders, who scoff at the idea that a girl would be "brave enough" to try her hand at this male-dominated pastime (while there is some record of eagle huntresses in Kazakh history, they are few and far between). But Aisholpan appears unruffled by their criticism.

"From an early age I was always interested to be an eagle huntress," saysAisholpan, now 15, speaking through a translator at New York's Crosby Hotel last week. "I was wondering why I can't do this because I don't see any differences between me and the other boys."

In 2014, Bell flew to Mongolia to meet with the family, and the timing was fortuitous: Aisholpan and her dad were about to go find her a baby eagle of her own, a task only possible during the short window of time eaglets are old enough to be left in the nest unattended. In the film, we see Nurgaiv tie a rope around his daughter's waist, and then watch her wind dexterously down the side of a steep cliff face in order to swaddle her eaglet in a blanket. Aisholpan never expresses doubt or fear, never tires, never complains. "At first I was a little bit excited and worried, but I wasn't afraid," she tells me of the fateful day she met her eagle, a female named White Wings, who lives in the family's yurt with them (female eagles are generally bigger, stronger, and better for hunting — take from that what you will). 

"Since the first time I took the eagle from the nest we've been always together. I've always been feeding her and spoiling her," she explains. In the film, we see her rearing White Wings almost like a child, stroking her and speaking to her in soft baby talk. "Right now I think that she's my friend and also a member of the family."

Bell attributes Aisholpan's success both to her singular determination and to the support of her father, who mentored her and shielded her from the criticisms of the men in the community. "To a man, the interviews I did with the elders, they rejected the idea of a woman stepping into their realm," explains Bell. "I think her dad did a lot to insulate her from the people saying she couldn't do it and wasn't capable enough."

By the sheer force of their example, Nurgaiv and Aisholpan have dealt a blow to the eagle-hunting patriarchy. After months of training, Aisholpan competed at the Golden Eagle Festival against 70 full-grown men and came out victorious. Since then, four other young girls have competed at the festival, following in her footsteps. Aisholpan has become something of a community hero, and her newfound fame earned her a scholarship to a top school in the region, where she is studying to be a doctor and learning to speak English.

Meanwhile, around the world, people have latched on to Aisholpan's story as an example that girls can indeed do anything boys can do — even if the mountains they have to climb aren't quite so literal. Next, her story is slated to get the animated treatment, courtesy of Ice Age's Chris Wedge, so it's not hard to imagine Kmart one day stocking Aisholpan dolls along with its Annas and Elsas.

Aisholpan says she is happy that girls around the world have been inspired by her story, and encourages them simply to keep persevering when times get tough. "They must keep trying and be brave," she says.

Link to article

Related:

'Eagle Huntress' Director on the Incredible 13-Year-Old Mongolian Girl Who Inspired the Sundance HitVariety, November 3

'The Eagle Huntress' Review: Soaring DocumentaryThe Wall Street Journal, November 3

The Eagle Huntress: A tale of tenacity and talent – if you believe itThe Globe and Mail, November 4

'The Eagle Huntress' is a documentary that's a little too simpleMetro.us, November 3

Back to Headlines

Nature & Environment

Climate change threatens nomadic herding lifestyle

By Kristine De Leon

November 4 (UB Post) A landlocked nation widely known for its remoteness, eternal blue sky, and endless plains, Mongolia is also recognized for its extreme climate and nomadic herding lifestyle. Due to its dominant steppe ecosystem that was shaped by high solar radiation, low precipitation, and wide-ranging temperatures, Mongolia's climate and natural resources are most suitable extensive grazing.

Today, Mongolia is one of the few countries that continue to practice nomadic livestock breeding on a large scale.

Mongolia's traditional herders are one of the last nomadic cultures. For centuries, herders relied on the traditional ecological knowledge of the land as they roamed the grasslands with their animals, building, packing, and rebuilding their traditional gers, or tents, to make their living from nature's bounty. They are no strangers to harsh climates, but the effects of climate change on the herding culture have become increasingly devastating over the past five years.

Across Mongolia, average temperatures have increased by about 2.14°C since the 1940s. According to the UN Environmental Programme, this increase is double the rise in average global temperatures.

"We are nervous about this coming winter. It got cold very early around here, and it seems like it will be colder this coming winter," said Kh.Ganzorig, a 69-year-old herder who lives by himself just outside of Terelj National Park. He moved out to the area after his wife died. "I'm hoping it will be okay. The other families and I feel as if the weather is much harder to tell. We are just nervous about the snow," Kh.Ganzorig said through a translator.

For the past twenty years, Kh.Ganzorig has been living by himself and herding nearly 200 heads of livestock including sheep, camels, cows, and horses. Like many herders, he has observed changes in climate and the environment.

"The weather is changing and the plants that used to grow are not growing anymore. The summers and winters are getting harder for herders," Kh.Ganzorig claims, who strategically relocates by paying attention to the vegetation and weather. "Each year, the animals struggle to have nice plants to eat."

According to a government report, Mongolia's grassland biomass is undergoing a major loss—70 percent of pastoral land has been degraded and the variety of vegetation has gone down. Droughts are now the norm and worsening water availability has increased the frequency of forest fires throughout the country.

"Back then, it was much easier for the nomads," Kh.Ganzorig says. "The animals just ate what was naturally grown in the environment. But now, all these plants that used to grow are not growing anymore. Nowadays, many herders have to go to the store to make extra food for the animals. Without that extra food, the animals will not survive long, especially in the winter."

In other parts of Mongolia, winter disasters, called dzuds, in which extensive and extreme cold, combined with repeated snowfalls, have killed millions of livestock due to starvation. To compensate in the event of these hazardous storms, herders have resorted to increasing herd sizes, consequently worsening the effects brought on by overgrazing.

"The number of animals has gotten bigger over the years, and it's harder for the herders," Kh.Ganzorig explains. "Herders aren't supposed to have large numbers of animals."

To maintain a higher number of livestock, many herders are forced to move more frequently. Especially in areas on the brink of desertification, animals have to graze larger areas of land to find grass. As a result, rather than using horses, many herders have increasingly relied on motorbikes for herding their livestock.

"Many herders, especially the steppes, are now using motorbikes that they get from China. They're cheap and they don't need to be fed, so motorbikes are more common now," said Kh.Ganzorig, who disagrees with the use of motorbikes. "It causes mental problems for the animals when herded with motorbikes. It also affects how fat they can get, since they can get stressed out."

"Everything is changing now, and I am not sure of what's going to happen," concluded Kh.Ganzorig.

While a number of potential strategies have already been presented at the national, municipal and community level, it remains to be seen if the government will be able to affect meaningful change in the coming years.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

South Korea to help Mongolia save its water reserves

November 4 (news.mn) "Even if global studies list Mongolia among the 20 countries with the least water reserves, our situation is quite reasonable compared to that of other desert-like countries. Mongolia cannot be counted among those with no water", said Dr J. Dalai, Director of the National Water Centre. "But, we will certainly top any list of countries that manage their water reserves so badly", he noted.

In recent years, air and soil pollution have increased in Mongolia and pose a real threat to people's health. Water, also is proving to be an increasing problem.

An important water seminar, entitled 'Water Policy and Co-operation between Mongolia and South Korea' was held yesterday (3rd November) in Ulaanbaatar. The seminar was organised by the Mongolian Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Ulaanbaatar and 'K-water' Corporation. The seminar aimed to create initiatives in water sector cooperation between Ulaanbaatar and Seoul as well as discuss Mongolia's water reserves. More than 50 delegates from the two countries participated in the seminar.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Coldest winter in 100 years awaits

Ulaanbaatar, November 9 (MONTSAME) The German meteorologist Dominik Jung said the 2016-2017 winter season promises to be "unusually cold" ever recorded in last 100 years. The Mongolian Research Institute for Hydrology and Meteorology agrees with the European scholar and warns Mongolia is also expecting such a winter.

Mongolia have seen the harshest winters in the Year of the Monkey, according to the Lunar Calendar, which also befalls this winter.

The wintering preparations in rural areas has been reported as sufficient. Young herders make up 70 percent of all livestock herding community of Mongolia.

At the national level, herders prepared this fall 284 thousand tons of hay or 24 percent of necessary hay for wintering. Emergency storages of provinces and soums hold 3,722 tons of hay and 504 tons of fodder.

To overcome the harsh winter without or minimum loss, Mongolia needs a reserve of 1.2 million tons of hay and 100 thousand tons of animal fodder, reports olloo.mn.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Khustai Mountain – Home to the largest number of Takhi

November 8 (gogo.mn) Since the Przewalski's horse or Takhi – one time extinct and endangered in the wild was reintroduced to its native habitat in the Khustai Mountain National Park, the population of Takhi in the area was estimated at over 340 as of December 2015. Some names of the places in Mongolia, such as 'Yellow Mountain Ranges of Takhi' and 'Steppe of Takhi' are proof of an abundance of Takhi 'the wild horse' in Mongolia.

However, during the late 19th century, the wild horses drew attention of foreign tourists in the country and a plenty of them were hunted, killed or captured for zoological collections. This led to a decline in their population and in the 1930-1940s; the subspecies of wild horse were designated in the Red Book of Endangered Animals as an extinct animal.

Reintroduction of the Takhi started in June 1992 with three rounds of transport of Takhi from European countries. A total of 87 Takhis was released into several different regions of Mongolia to result in a continuous increase in their population number up until today. As a result of reintroductions to the Khustai Mountain ranges as well as the Steppe of Takhi in Gobi-Altai aimag and the Khom Steppe in Zavkhan aimag, the number of Takhi population reached over 500m able to sustain and survive on their own.

Reintroducing them in three different regions is to prevent from inbreeding said B.Manlai, guide of the Takhi Reintroduction Center. There are 23 biologists and environmental conservationists in Khustai. Reasons of the decrease to the Takhi population include dzud - severe winter season, too much snow or wild horse stallions fight each other over a leader position in the group.  People who attempt to save the animals would have a great risk of being attacked and killed, so that there are sometimes no other way to leave them alone. Even, one stallion of a Mongolian horse which approached to a flock of Takhi was luckily survived their attacks and never again appeared in the areas surrounding their habitat land. 

The Takhi horse never hurt their offspring and descendants of one stallion never form a herd with each other in anyway. It is nurtured in their flock until they reach two years old and then the three year old-Takhis are expelled from the flock and strive to create a their own independent crowd. Sometime the weaker ones have to die on their own without mating with mares. The stallion takhi is the cruelest 'step-father' among all wild horses. If the female horse they brought happens to be already pregnant, they kill the foal immediately after it is born. The Takhi foals are rarely survive under human cares and it dies soon after it drinks milk or tea due to bowel disease. 

Clarifying on some many wild horses with a foreign name, B.Manlai said people, especially foreign tourists, name the newborn Takhis foals after their own name for USD 100. 

Jan Bouman, founder of the Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski horse in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has made a valuable contribution to the works of Takhi reintroduction in the Khustai. Appraising his endeavors and hard labors put into the reintroduction, nature preservation of the Khustai National Park, enhancing management system and facilities of the administrative office of the Park, and a wide range of ecological researches in Mongolia, the President of Mongolia has awarded him a 'Nairamdal' Order in 2012 and an Order of Polar Star as well. Jan Bouman, with her wife Inge Bouman has done lots of works towards decreasing inbreeding in the Takhi preservation zoos and Takhi reintroduction.

Apart from studying the adaptation process and biological and ecological characters of Takhis being reintroduced into the region, the Khustai center performs a broad range of research on the ecosystem jointly with international academic institutes and universities. For instance, a research and academic center that operates using solar energy. Its two-story building with a solar-panel roof has two halls designed for organizing international meetings, offices for research, workshops and tourism departments and an indoor parking for 5-6 vehicles. Every year, young international scholars and students, including from UK, France, Japan, Germany, Belgium and Italy arrive in Mongolia and attend research works at the center. The research and academic center aims to become an international center for field research for ecosystems. 

Abundant wildlife species in the Khustai National Park are increasing year by year and there are 55 mammals are recorded, including red deer, roe deer, antelope, argali (wild Mongolian sheep), wild boar, grey wolf, lynx, fox, wildcat, badger, marmot and many others. As of last year, the population of argali, which has rarely seen before, reached over 40 and some one thousand deer and more than 500 antelopes were counted. Also, there are some 4900 vascular plant species and 223 species of bird in the Khustai Park. 

The Khustai National Park is located in roughly 100 km west from Ulaanbaatar city. In pursuance to the Parliament decision, 50 ha land of the Khustai Mountain range was included in a land with state protected class in 1993 and became a National Park in 998, upgrading its classification. The Park was registered in the UNESCO the Man and the Biosphere program. 

Not only the Khustai National Park is for wildlife, it has been always a well-known of its rich archaeological and cultural sites. Its Ungot grave Complexs applies to Turkic Empire resided in the land of Mongolia during 552-742. There are also over 60 stones with manlike features found in the Central Asia. Stones of sitting tiger and sheep are can be found in the Park. The tiger stone is believed to be created to become a symbol of fearlessness and the sheep stone is for sacrifice. Over 160 rectangular tombs were found from some valleys of Khustai Mountains. These are believed to be originated from the tribes of Bronze Age during the III-II centuries BC. In addition, remaining of over 19 large burial places and statue stone are in the region. 

Our guide Manlai says, Mongolia is home to around 800 deer stones or 90 percent of all deer stones found throughout the world. Shapes of deer, eagles, archery man and wolves chasing after ibex carved and sculpted on those wide and flat boards are worn down due to hundreds' of years of rains, snows, storms and winds. The statues and stones were saved after using special hardening formulas on them, parts of which were used to be crumbled into pieces with a touch of a hand.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Berkeley Geologists Demonstrate How Continental Growth Occurred through Collision in Mongolia

November 7 (University of California, Berkeley) Taylor Kilian and Nicholas Swanson-Hysell are first and second authors, respectively, of "Paleomagnetism of the Teel basalts from the Zavkhan terrane: Implications for Paleozoic paleogeography in Mongolia and the growth of continental crust." The article came out in the October 12, 2016 issue of the journal Lithosphere.

A narrow extensional basin on the Zavkhan terrane of Mongolia exposes a >1.8-km-thick succession of basalt flows within the Teel Formation, along with rhyolites and interflow sediments. The researchers present new U-Pb zircon ages of 446.03 ± 0.21 Ma (chemical abrasion–isotope dilution–thermal ionization mass spectrometry) on a rhyolite in the Teel Formation and 286 ± 5 Ma (laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry) on a nearby granitic intrusion (Tonkhil Complex). New paleomagnetic data yield a magnetite remanence that is likely primary, acquired during cooling of flows. The mean direction is statistically improved after tilt corrections; however, the tilt test significance is limited given the low variation in tilt between flows. They interpret a second remanence, held by hematite, as an overprint that was likely acquired later in the Paleozoic Era. The tilt-corrected magnetite direction implies a paleolatitude of 20°, while the hematite overprint is equatorial in both geographic and tilt-corrected coordinates. The ca. 446 Ma Teel remanence is consistent with an Ordovician paleogeographic position near Siberia; however, the hematite direction requires subsequent drift to the equator, indicating that these Mongolian terranes were not continuously connected to Siberia, which moved away from the tropics during the Paleozoic Era. This result is consistent with biogeographic constraints and a previously proposed model wherein Amuria traveled with North China during the Permian Period and collided with Siberia during the Jurassic to Triassic closure of the Mongol-Okhotsk Ocean. In this model, continental growth occurred through the collision and oroclinal buckling of a ribbon continent rather than long-lived accretion on the margin of a major craton.

Taylor Kilian is postdoctoral scholar at the Berkeley Earth and Planetary Science Department. Nicholas Swanson-Hysell is an Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Science at Berkeley.

For the full-length article please click here (behind paid firewall).

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Sustainability work to protect the endangered species in Mongolia

As part of Sustainability's work with the Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia, biological monitoring is undertaken as part of the project's Core biodiversity monitoring program.

One aspect of the program is the tracking of the endangered Khulan (Mongolian Wild Ass, Equus Hemionus) where the monitoring involves tracking the animals by four-wheel drive in the Gobi Desert, tranquilising them, attaching a monitoring collar and undertaking an inspection.

This project had a number of critical and potentially fatal safety risks, including:

  • the risk of roll over
  • the risk of the tranquiliser being injected into a human
  • the risks associated with working remotely
  • the risks associated with mobilising to a remote site
  • the risks to both humans and animals associated with handling wild animals
  • the risks associated with personnel not being fit for work

Sustainability was able to successfully manage all risks associated with the project through good planning and developing safe work practices.

If you need assistance with any safety or environmental requirements, contact Sustainability.

Link to project

Back to Headlines

Beavers face deportation to Kazakhstan and Mongolia

Tomsk region overrun with beavers and aims for a cull by hunters, or sending them beavers abroad.

November 11 (The Siberian Times) Beaver numbers have reached 6,000-plus, when a population of 4,000 is seen as avoiding harm to nature.

They damage trees and turn agricultural land into swamps by damming rivers.

The head of the Department of Hunting and Fishing in Tomsk Region, Viktor Sirotin, said: 'The population has increased due to the absence of wolves.'

Hunters should be allowed to kill beavers during the spring hunt for water fowl, he said.

But scientists propose deporting the beavers instead, claiming they can be useful to the environment in Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

Researcher of the All-Russian Research Institute of Hunting and Fur Farming, Alexander Saveliev, said: 'Where small rivers dry up, the beavers create dams, and part of the water flow is stopped.

'Dams keep the water. Beavers delay the outflow of water, so their activity increases the level of ground water.'

Link to article

Back to Headlines

On the Trail of Ghosts: Searching for Snow Leopards in Mongolia

November 7 (Cool Green Science) In comparison with other field trips I had made in Mongolia, this one was relatively uneventful. No cars were flipped over, no tents blew away in hurricane winds, and no swollen rivers blocked our way. But on each day of this quest, the clock ticked more loudly at our failure to glimpse our prize.

My colleagues from the Nature Conservancy were my companions and guides. We were travelling to Tost Uul, a mountain in the Altai range in the Gobi Desert. Tost Uul is place of extremes — brutally hot in the summer and equally brutally cold in winter. Carved out of rock that's been polished by the hard wind and sand of the Gobi Desert, its steep terrain is not a place that reveals its beauty to you easily. But when it does, it's spectacular.

Our goal was to assess the success of predictive modelling we had done in the region: assessing the vegetation in the area and interviewing local herders to better understand their vision for their lands, in particular why they were so supportive of making the local protected area a national protected area.

And in our spare time, we would try to spot a snow leopard.

An Obsession is Born

I first "saw" the wild snow leopard before I was in kindergarten. It was on the pages of National Geographic's November 1971 issue. The photo, taken by Dr. George B. Schaller, was one of the first ever shots of snow leopards in the wild, and it featured a female snow leopard (Panthera uncia) perched on a snowy crag in Pakistan's Chitral Valley. I kept that issue well into my college years and when I finally lost track of it, the pages were well-worn.

I can't begin to explain my fascination — with a species that I had never seen before and one that lives on the other side of the world. But I am not alone in my obsession. Animals have long inhabited the depths of the human psyche. There isn't a civilization on Earth, however primitive or high-tech, that doesn't concern itself with images of animals.

So of course I want snow leopards to be the protagonist in my tale of Tost Uul. But in reality, it's the broader issue of how of a country plans for development that takes center stage.

The Oldest Protected Area in the World

Tost Uul was one of approximately 25 sites that the Conservancy identified as part of a conservation planning exercise in the Gobi Desert, a collaborative exercise with the Mongolian government, mining companies, local communities and other partners. The aim is to help support the expansion of the protected areas network and identify potential conflicts between biological, social and cultural values with expanding mining and infrastructure development.

This is a truly progressive approach by the Mongolian government as it prepares for development. As well as this type of proactive planning, they have committed to protect an impressive 30 percent of the country. To date, there has been real progress on that commitment.

In conservation history, protected areas can be problematic for communities. And in a country where approximately 40 percent of the people are nomadic herders who depend on access to pasture lands this could create a problem.

But the idea of protected areas runs deep in Mongolian history. It was here that the world's first national park was established: the Bogd Khan Uul, just south of Ulaanbaatar. It is 100 years older than Yellowstone in the United States. Established by the Mongolian government in 1778, it was originally commissioned by Ming Dynasty officials in the 1500s as an area to be protected for its sacred nature.

Problems With Protection

Many protected areas are effective conservation management tools but while they have positive conservation benefits, they can also have a broad array of negative social, economic, cultural, and political impacts on local communities. Protected areas often follow the exclusionary approach applied at Yellowstone in 1872. As such, many parks have failed to fully integrate other important factors, such as social, cultural, and political issues. In some cases, this has triggered adverse impacts on local communities, disrupting their traditional ways of living and limiting their control of and access to natural resources. Such an outcome can undermine protection policies through conflicts between park managers and local communities.

But something was different at Tost Uul, the locals were embracing the concept of protection. Tost Uul in fact was already a "local protected area" but was being petitioned to become a national protected area. This means additional management restrictions and a level of permanent protection that would require an act of parliament to change its protected status. Yet despite these additional restrictions, one after another, herding families gave their support for national level protection.

The reasons for this were relatively simple — while Tost Uul is home to Argali and Ibex, the top prey items of snow leopards, it is also criss-crossed with mining leases. National-level protection would prevent development of those minerals resources in lieu of conservation. The cost that 'protection' might represent in terms of reduced access and restrictions was out-weighed by the benefits of preventing large-scale development from mining.

Conservation success is often dependent on local support for conservation, and protected areas will survive only if they are seen to be of value, in the widest sense, to the nation as a whole and to local people in particular.

More study is needed to better understand why Mongolian communities seem to embrace protection in the way they do, but the signs are there. In part, they seem to have developed a model that respects the rights of traditional peoples inhabiting protected areas by promoting and allowing full participation in co-management of resources, in a way that does not affect or undermine the objectives for the protected area as set out in its management plan.

Due, in large part, to the support of the local community, Mongolia's Prime Minister announced in December 2015 that Tost Uul — and its surrounding area, covering greater than 1.6 million acres, an area larger than the state of Delaware — was "a nationally significant reserve area." Four months later, its status was elevated to a "National Protected Area," the highest status possible.

Watching Us, Watching Them

Back in the mountains, I'd love to be able to tell you up-close tales of the snow leopard — how I witnessed its mythical leap and captured its mystique on camera. But after two long weeks, I'd collected only blisters on my feet and back pain from hiking the brutal terrain with 50+ pounds of camera gear.

I was reminded of the scene in the recent Walter Mitty movie where fictional photojournalist Sean O'Connell says: "They call the snow leopard the ghost cat. Never lets itself be seen." James Thurber, the author of the Walter Mitty story, writes it perfectly: "Beautiful things don't ask for attention."

It took a local herder, Amar, to help put it into perspective for me. A snow leopard guide and ranger at Tost Uul, he has lived in these mountains his whole life, tending to his sheep and goats. During that time, he has only seen a snow leopard on a handful of occasions. So after a mere 14 days, who was I to complain?

Each day we didn't see a snow leopard we counted: snow leopards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… Humans 0. Perhaps in an attempt to rationalize our failure, I was strangely glad that they didn't reveal themselves to me so easily. An animal as iconic as a snow leopard is something that should be earned and I don't think I earned the privilege yet. But I'll be back someday and I'll see them yet.

For now, I'll just have to keep my obsession alive and take solace in knowing they are out there, and thanks to hard work of my colleagues in Mongolia, they have a better chance to be around for future generations.

And while I didn't see a snow leopard with my own eyes, the camera traps captured what we were unable to. It was clear that they were there — watching us even when we didn't know it.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

'Stone pattern' mineral exhibition opens in Ulaanbaatar

November 8 (news.mn) Entitled 'Stone pattern', an interesting exhibition of precious and semi-precious stones opened today (8th November) at the National Museum of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar. The mineral exhibition was collected by the famous Mongolian chemist and geologist G.Gongorjav, who over the course of 50 years travelled to every corner of the country in search of precious gems.

Many of the rocks have been transformed into unique objects; everything from the Cyrillic alphabet and Roman numerals to figures of Arabian sheikhs. On show are such gems and minerals as ruby, chalcedony, sardonyx, malachite, granite and egg stone. More than 400 minerals are exhibited in the form of modern art. The most expensive item is a 1mm Mongolian diamond. G.Gongorjav's collection has previously been on public display in 1994-1996 and 2000. The exhibition lasts until 13th of October.

Link to article

Related:

"Stone patterns" exhibitionMontsame, November 8

Back to Headlines

Herder discovers giant fossil skull

November 3 (news.mn) The fossilised skull of a Rhinocerotoidae has been found in the Khongor soum of Darkhan-Uul province in the north of Mongolia. Herder G.Batsukh found the paleontological remains of the extinct animal at 'Khushuut Tokhoi' and reported to the administration of the provincial museum. Paleontologists from Ulaanbaatar and staff from the local museum are studying the fossilised skull which measures 80 cm by 35 cm.

Rhinocerotoidea is a superfamily that comprises rhinoceroses and their relatives - living and extrinct - and is grouped into the families Hyracodontidae, Amynodontidae, and Rhinocerotidae.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Dinosaur claws were tough – even the proteins in their sheaths have survived for 75 million years

The proteins show strong similarities to those found in the claw sheaths of birds living today.

November 9 (International Business Times) A famous fossil – an oviraptorid dinosaur that died brooding its unhatched eggs – still has 75 million-year-old proteins present in the sheath of its claw.

The fossil sheath was compared with a claw sheath from ostriches and emus and the researchers found that the microstructure of the sheath had similar features to the birds, even after 75 million years. The findings are published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Structural similarities

The team used antibodies as biological markers that bind to keratin, a protein found in the sheath, as well as in human hair and nails. They found that the chemical as well as the physical features of the claw sheath were very similar to that of present-day birds.

The structure extending from the claw was first spotted in 1995 when the fossil was being prepped for the original publication of the discovery of the dinosaur in the journal Nature. Study author Alison Moyer, a former PhD student at North Carolina State University in the US, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Drexel University in Philadelphia and lead author of a paper, told IBTimes UK that identification of this structure as a claw sheath 20 years later was unexpected.

"It does come as a surprise because it could well have been something else – a mineral lens, for example. But it was pretty remarkable when studying it just how similar [it was] to [a] modern claw," she says.

The fossil was discovered in the Djadokhta Formation of Mongolia in 1995. The dinosaur's forelimbs encompass the eggs, with the hindlimbs tucked underneath it. The dinosaur and its eggs are encased in sandstone, which suggests that a fatal sandslide quickly covered the dinosaur and its brood. The dinosaur was about the size of an emu and lived in what is now Mongolia during the Cretaceous period.

Link to full article

Back to Headlines

Sports

Government presents cash prize to Olympic and Paralympic medalists

November 4 (UB Post) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat and Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports J.Batsuuri handed cash prizes to Mongolian Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic medalists on November 3 at the State Palace.

Olympic silver medalist judoka D.Sumiya received 60 million MNT, and Olympic bronze medalist boxer D.Otgondalai, Paralympic bronze medalists B.Uugankhuu and E.Sodnompiljee received 30 million MNT each.

Their coaches,B.Narantuya, D.Batsuren and Sh.Enkhsaikhan, were awarded half of the cash prizes presented to the athletes.

During the prize granting ceremony, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat said, "I want to thank all of you on behalf of the government for raising the state flag at the Rio 2016. The sports sector is the primary sector promoting Mongolia to the world today. Thank you for your hard work."

Athletes expressed their feelings after awarding ceremony. 

Paralympic bronze medalist judoka B.Uugankhuu: I am very happy that the state values our hard work. I have started my training. I don't have a plan to compete in any tournament before 2017. I will participate in international tournaments in 2017.People of Dornogovi Province gave me a new apartment after the Rio 2016 Paralympics. I have recently moved into the new apartment. It is very nice.

Olympic silver medalist judoka D.Sumiya: I have also started training everyday at the Central Sports Palace. I will compete in the Tokyo Grand Slam 2016, which will be held from December 2 to 4. I am currently focused on the Tokyo Grand Slam 2016.

Olympic bronze medalist boxer D.Otgondalai: I am training as usual. I will fight in the National Boxing Championship to be held on January 9, 2017. After that I will fight in the World Boxing Championship. I am very happy that Mongolians and the state value our hard work. I will make you happy through my successes.

Paralympic bronze medalist power-lifter E.Sodnompiljee: I started training on October 1. I will compete in three international powerlifting tournaments in 2017. After that, I will compete in the World Para Powerlifting Championship. My nearest plan is to succeed at the World Championship.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolian team wins World Memoriad 2016

Ulaanbaatar (MONTSAME) The national team of Mongolia championed the quadrennial mental sports competition – Memoriad 2016, held in Las Vegas, the USA. The competition lasted for three days, challenging 167 mental athletes from 27 countries, including the US, Germany, South Korea, Japan, India, the UK, Australia and others, in 13 categories.

The team members, aged between 7 and 24 years, secured 15 medals and broke two world records.

The Memoriad is hailed as the Mental Olympic Games.

The team members are:

1.    Grand Master S.Tsogbadrakh, 24, 2012 olympic record holder

2.    International Grand Master E.Enkhmunkh, 18, 2014 Teenage World Champion

3.    International Grand Master E.Purevjav, 17, 2015 Teenage World Champion

4.    Grand Master B.Shijir-Erdene, 16, Champion of the American Open

5.    International Grand Master T.Enkhjin, 18, Champion of Taiwanese Open

6.    Master of Asia Z.Tsetsegzul, 16, World record holder

7.    International Master B.Ariunsanaa, 14, world championships bronze medalist

8.    N.Namuundari, 12, junior champion of Taiwanese Open

9.    M.Tamir, 12, junior champion of Taiwanese Open

10.  B.Bat-Erdene, 12, Champion of Turkish Open

11.  B.Khangal, 11, bronze medalist of Turkish Open

12.  B.Binderya, 8

13.  D.Gerelt-Od, 8, fourth place holder of Turkish Open

14.  B.Enkhluun, 7

Please see detailed results at http://www.memoriad.com/index.asp?s=yarismalar&b=yarisma-detay&yarismaid...

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Grand Master S.Tsogbadrakh breaks Word Mental Olympics record

November 10 (gogo.mn) "Memoriad-2016" World Mental Olympics are held every four years in Las Vegas, USA. 

167 athletes from 27 countries are competing for 13 categories including speed cards, spoken number, flash number, binary digits, names and faces, numbers memory, mental additions, and mental calendar dates. 

On the second day of the Olympics, Mongolian athlete S.Tsogbadrakh won gold medal in flash number category by memorizing 486 digits and updated the world record. Previously, he set the record in flash number category by memorizing 300 digits at the "Memoriad-2012" World Mental Olympics. 

Grand Master S.Tsogbadrakh has became the first athlete in history to win two World Mental Olympic gold medals. Moreover, International Grand Master E.Purevjav claimed bronze medal in this category by memorizing 232 digits. 

International Master B.Ariunsanaa (14 years-old) placed 4th, Asian Master Z.Tsetesgzul (16 years-old) placed 7th, International Master T.Enkhjin (18 years-old) placed 8th, N.Namuundari (12 years-old) placed 9th, International Grand Master E.Enkhmunkh (18 years-old) placed 10th and B.Khangal (11 years-old) placed 11th in flash number category. 

In this category, the competitors are expected to memorize the flashing 500 digits at a frequency of 1.0 seconds on the screen. The numbers are not allowed to be written during the memorization stage.

As soon as the competitor makes his/her first mistake the marking stops. For example, if a competitor recalls 198 numbers but makes a mistake at the 76th number, then the score is considered 75. If a contestant recalls 300 numbers but makes a mistake on the first number, the score is "0".

As of second day of the "Memoriad-2016" World Mental Olympics, our athletes won 2 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals. It is the 40th international mental competition attended by Mongolian athletes.

Link to article

Related:

Mongolian Mind Sport team breaks records in Las VegasMontsame, November 10

Back to Headlines

Basketball: National Super League starts today in Mongolia

November 4 (news.mn) The opening match of the Mongolia's Basketball National Super League of the 2016-2017 season is being held today (4th of November). The first match of 'A' section  between the teams from Uvurkhangai and Bayankhongor takes place at the Central Sports Complex at 5:00 p.m. Matches between teams from Uvs and Erdenet as well as Arkhangai and Tuv are also taking place today.

The National Super League tournament is organized by the Mongolian Basketball Association and is one of the leagues with the largest prize fund. This year's tournament of teams from the 21 provinces of Mongolia will last until February.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Dog Sledding Season Opening Tour

November 4 (gogo.mn) It's our great pleasure to announce that the dog sledding season will be open from November 26. Let your adventures for the 2016/17 winter begin. Dog sledding in Mongolia is a magical experience. You will never forget the feeling of speeding through the snowy landscape driving your own team of eager huskies. This winter we are offering exclusive deals just for Expats living in Mongolia and their families, so don't miss out. EXPAT, the longest running tour operator for Expats in Mongolia, has been running dog sledding trips since 2012.

We are hosting a special season opening tour, but trips will be available all through winter until mid-March. Please book early to avoid disappointment.

Escape from the pollution and into the wide open countryside to have an unforgettable adventure. Here is the program for the Season Opening Day Tour.

Date: 26 Nov 2015
Where : Terelj National Park
Package Price: 140,000 MNT per person
Includes: English speaking guide and instructor, transfers to and from the National Park, dog sledding 6km, BBQ Lunch (vegetarian option available), horse riding, and guided hike through Turtle Rock and Meditation Temple.
Activities: Dog sledding, hiking, horse riding, camp fire, morin khuur performance, getting fresh air and sightseeing

Program:

08:50 – Meet at The Blue Sky Hotel where our bus will be ready
09:00 – Leave UB city towards Terelj National Park
11:00 – Short instruction lesson and start dog sledding on the frozen river
12:00 – Horse riding for 1 hour to the campfire
13:00 – Barbecue lunch and campfire in forest
14:00 – Hiking from Turtle Rock to Aryabal Meditation Temple
15:30 – Transfer from the Meditation Temple to The Blue Sky Hotel
17:00 – Arrive at The Blue Sky Hotel

Contact detail: (+976) 88012123 (Bold), info@expatmongolia.comwww.expatmongolia.com
www.facebook.com/events/683350408498908/

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia grabs 19 medals from the 2016 World Youth Draught Championships

November 7 (gogo.mn) The 2016 World Youth Championships Rapid, Blitz and Turkish Draughts was held in Izmir, Turkey during Oct 29 to Nov 5. 

This year, 218 athletes from 30 countries have competed and Team Mongolia showed historical success. 

Mongolia was represented by 24 athletes and won 7 gold, 7 silver and bronze medals while stood 2nd in the team rankings. 

Our athletes received a gold, silver and bronze medal in 10x10 draughts, gold and two bronze medals in blitz and 5 gold, 7 silver and a bronze medals in Turkish draughts.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

All Mongolian freestyle wrestlers secure medals at Russian championships

Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) Five Mongolian wrestlers from the Arslan (Lion) and the Hilchin (Border Guard) sports clubs competed in the Russian National Freestyle Wrestling Chamionships, held in Khabarovsk. They claimed three gold and two silver medals.

In specific, Z.Zanabazar in men's 57 kg, B.Khatantuul in women's 55 kg and B.Tsetsegbayar in women's 75 kg won gold medals, while S.Bilguun in men;s 61 kg and D.Altangeel in men's 74 kg won silver medals.

D Altangerel earned four straight victories until he was defeated in a bout for gold by a Tuvan wrestler, with scores 4:5.

The championships challenged some 200 wrestlers from Mongolia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia.

International judge from Mongolia Ts.Sereeter worked as the coach-judge of the championships.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Strong Mongolian team leaves for World Sambo Championship

November 7 (news.mn) The 41st World Sambo Championship is taking place in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria from 10th to 14th of November. Wrestlers from more than 80 countries will be competing; among them, World champion B.Ariun-Erdene, B.Solongo and Olympic athlete D.Tumurkhuleg from Mongolia. D.Gerel, President of the Mongolian Sambo Association and senior coach J.Bayarsaikhan will be lead the Mongolian team and to fly to Sofia tomorrow (8th of November).

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Large Mongolian team to compete at World Bodybuilding Championship

November 8 (news.mn) The World Bodybuilding and Fitness Championship will start in Pattaya, an important tourist destination on the east coast of Thailand on 29th of November. A large Mongolian team consisting of 19 athletes will compete in the championship. Ambitious young Mongolian athletes such as L.Bayankhuu, N.Tuvshinbayar, G.Ugalztsetseg and G.Gansaruul will be aiming for the title of world bodybuilding champion.

Also, S.Odbaatar, a Mongolian referee has been invited to be one of the official adjudicators in the event.

In recent years, bodybuilding and fitness has been fast developing in Mongolia and the number of fitness centres has increased significantly.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

The life of a female sumo wrestler

November 10 (UB Post) Did you know that there are female sumo wrestlers in Mongolia? Not many know this because it's a relatively new sport for women. Until recently, women were forbidden to enter or even touch the dohyo (wrestling ring) as it was seen as a taboo that would desecrate the purity of the dohyo. Many criticized and challenged the Japanese Sumo Association's men-only policy, and after countless trials and attempts, female sumo became a sport that can only take place under amateur settings.

Kh.Sunjidmaa is the first female sumo wrestler to become the world champion twice. She spoke about what it is like to be a female sumo wrestler and other sumo related issues in the interview below.

You were nominated for Best Female Athlete of the Year award in this year's Burte Chono Annual Awards, organized in January. What was your impression of the award ceremony?

It wasn't as pleasant as I thought it would be. A couple of people were invited and awards were presented to them. I thought the Burte Chono Awards was a huge and grand event while watching it on television before. The Burte Chono Awards of previous years had a lot more guests but this year's felt a little bit boring.

Most people expected you to attend the ceremony with your coach but you didn't. Wasn't he nominated for Best Coach of the Year award?

Yes, that's true. He was busy. My current coach is the one who guided me into sumo and made it possible for me to succeed.

Is it true that you used to do sambo and judo?

Yes. I entered Mongol Ohid Club for sambo judo when it was first opened by State Honored Coach and State Nachin (a traditional wrestling title) S.Erdenebat. I was trained under him and International Sports Master G.Bazarsuren. Back then, I participated in the Sumo National Championships and Asian Sumo Championships and my team won a bronze medal from the Sumo World Championships. I haven't deviated from this path since.

Individually, I won a bronze medal, and in a team, silver medal at the 2005 Sumo World Championships. I won a bronze medal when the 2010 Sumo World Championships was hosted in Poland, silver when it was hosted in Hong Kong in 2012, and another bronze medal at the 2014 Sumo World Championships. In the last two World Championships, I seized gold medals.

Who is in charge of your training now?

I'm being trained by coach G.Naranbat, who used to be a professional sumo wrestler himself. He is a two-time World Amateur Sumo champion, who won the championships in 2008 and 2012. He also won a silver medal in 2009 and took a gold medal in the open class of the 2013 World Games.

What did you think of sumo when you first tried it out?

I sucked at it; probably because I didn't have any experience. The first thing I tried to do was to win with the first move. I tried getting a good grip and push my opponent out of the ring but now it's different. The most important thing is to get up properly and be balanced. If you can do your first move (getting up) well, you can easily push your opponent out of the ring.  I can't execute various types of techniques so I rely more on my power and strength.

How strong are you?

I feel like I have as much power as my weight. Since I weigh a lot, I guess I am pretty strong.

Do you use power training to increase your overall strength?

No, but other female sumo wrestlers from different countries seem to do power training.

In what way are you different from foreign female sumo wrestlers?

European women have bigger body builds but they don't have as much power. There is a sumo wrestler named Anna in another weight class and she dominates her weight class. Japanese female sumo wrestlers, on the other hand, are only good at rushing towards their opponent. Once you get a firm grip while they rush towards you, it's very easy to take them down. Lately, Ukrainian athletes have been becoming stronger. All they do is sumo. The Ukrainian government supports their families with everything they need so sumo wrestlers don't have to worry about a thing and are free to concentrate on their training. They also hired a Japanese coach since it's much more efficient to be trained by a native.

Was your family supportive when you told them that you were going to become a sumo wrestler? Or did they oppose?

I was able to come thus far all thanks to my supportive husband. He is a sports maniac and is especially enthusiastic about wrestling. He wanted a wrestler wife so much that he made me his wife. Several years after our marriage, my husband told me that marrying a wrestler was one of his many dreams. He then told me that his next dream was to have a son. This was two years ago, and back then, we didn't know when that would happen.

At the time, I was also considering quitting sumo but my husband stopped me; saying that I must become a world champion and encouraged me that I could definitely become a champion and even receive the State Honored Athlete title. A year later, my husband's dream came true and our son was born. My parents strongly supported my ambition to become a professional sumo wrestler way before I got married.

Most Mongolians don't know that women are competing in sumo as well. You didn't get much coverage when you became world champion last year. Have you felt disappointed from the lack of attention?

It is quite upsetting. The public hardly pays attention to non-Olympic sports. Last year, I landed in Mongolia together with the national judo team at Chinggis Khaan International Airport. I had just won the World Championship so I assumed all the people running towards me wanted to congratulate me but they passed right by me and my coach who was next to me. Later, the Mongolian National Broadcaster featured my success and my colleagues and friends who saw it congratulated me.

The state awards cash prizes to athletes who win medals at the World Championships? Do you receive cash prizes from the state?

I received a small cash prize when I won a bronze medal at the 2014 Sumo World Championships. I'm not sure how much I got from how much I was supposed to get but in the end, I stopped caring.

Why is that so?

It's so funny how they hand it out. Sometimes, I get 100,000 MNT transferred to my account a month and on some occasions, I get 50,000 MNT. This monetary support was supposed to end two years ago yet it ended just recently because the amount transferred every month was inconsistent. Last year's cash prize is nowhere to be found. The state isn't interested in us because we compete in a non-Olympic sport. Since the state isn't obliged to financially support me, I'm not paying too much attention to this matter.

To where have you traveled to for competitions? Do you cover your own travel costs?

I've gone to Japan, Taiwan and several European countries. My husband runs a private business so he's able to sponsor me. My family tagged along when I went to participate in last year's World Championship. My eldest daughter was weeping when I came out of the ring right after winning the final match.

Have you ever regretted not continuing to train in sambo and judo?

No, but my husband often says that I would've made an uproar had I become a judoka. Even so, judo isn't for everyone. If it doesn't suit someone, it's really hard to continue doing it.

Is it true that you are studying?

Last year, I won an international amateur sumo competition, held in Japan. After that, I trained at the Japanese sumo wrestling school that coach G.Naranbat graduated from. The director of that school invited me to study there so I'm planning to live in Japan with my family and study there for four years. I wanted to improve my language skills before traveling to Japan in March. While studying, I will represent the Japanese school at every local competition I take part in.

I noticed that the school I will enroll in doesn't have skilled female sumo wrestlers. The best two wrestlers were very small. I'm not sure if they will be able to handle training with me so I will probably always train with the men. Male sumo wrestlers will be worthy training partners because they seemed to be strong and heavy.

Have you wrestled with Mongolian male sumo wrestlers?

No. I watched Hakuho M.Davaajargal and Ichinojo A.Ichinnorov's matches during the 2015 World Championship and I'm sure that I'm no match for them.

But I did wrestle with Mongolian State Honored Athlete and Darkhan Avarga A.Sukhbat, State Elephant Ch.Batzorig and Ts.Myagmarsuren while training at Zuunkharaa Resort in Selenge Province in 2002. They were preparing to participate in an international amateur sumo competition back then.

How serious are the injuries inflicted during your training?

You regularly get injured since sumo is a contact sport. The most common injury is thumb strains. You can put it back to normal in no time. Now, I'm so used to finger sprains. Lately, I've started wrapping my fingers together before matches.

Countless women are trying desperately to lose weight. Do you have this kind of thought?

I used to think about it all the time and it stressed me so much that I gained more weight. Nowadays, I stopped caring. People hardly talk about my weight because they know I'm a sumo wrestler and understand that I need to be big. It's advantageous to weigh a lot for sumo wrestlers. That's why, I don't think about slimming down now.

Link to interview

Back to Headlines

Laos reach AFC Solidarity Cup semis at expense of Mongolia

Kuching, November 9 (AFC): Laos advanced to the semi-final of the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 on Wednesday evening as a 3-0 win over Mongolia at Sarawak Stadium moved Valakone Phomphakdy's side into the tournament's last four.

Sitthideth Khanthavong and Khouanta Sivongthong scored in the first half to give their side a comfortable lead before Xaisongkham Champathong netted seven minutes from time as Laos bounced back from their loss to Macau in the previous round of matches.

The win means Laos finish in second place in Group B, three points clear of the Mongolians to join group winners Macau in the next phase of the competition, where they will take on Group A winners Nepal. Macau will play Brunei Darussalam.

Mongolia knew a draw would be enough to move them into the semi-finals following their win over Sri Lanka in the previous round of matches, but the East Asian side rarely threatened in a first half dominated by the Laotians.

Mongolian coach Toshiaki Imai made one change to the side that defeated the Sri Lankans 2-0 on Sunday, with Batbilguun Ganbaatar replacing Gankhuyag Serodyan while Laos made a pair of switches, as Khamphoumy Hanevilay and Khouanta started ahead of Sisawad Dalavong and Phouthone Innalay.

Laos took the lead after just seven minutes when Sitthideth converted from the penalty spot after Sangvone Phimmasen had been brought down in the box by goalkeeper Ariunbold Batsaikhan when he latched on to Sitthideth's perfectly weighted through ball from midfield.

The South East Asian nation continued to control proceedings with Vongdalasene Sayoulasouk shooting straight at Batsaikhan before sending his free kick from outside the area over the bar as the Mongolians struggled to handle Laos' pace and movement.

In the 21st minute, Laos doubled their lead when Khouanta unleashed an unstoppable right foot shot from outside the area that gave Batsaikhan little chance after the Mongolia defence had failed to fully clear a corner.

Khouanta tried his luck again with another free kick 10 minutes before the break, only for the ball to go over the bar, while Sitthideth should have put the result beyond any doubt on the stroke of halftime, but headed high above the target from close range.

Laos continued to dictate the rhythm of the game in the second half and substitute Xaisongkham headed just wide while Sangvone sent his attempt well over the bar before Xaisongkham put the result beyond doubt in the 83 minutes when he headed Keoviengpheth Lithideth's corner home.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

AFC Solidarity Cup: Mongolia 2-0 Sri Lanka

Kuching, November 6 (AFC): Nyamosor Naranbold's second-half penalty spot brace earned Mongolia a 2-0 win over Sri Lanka on Sunday evening that keeps his nation's hopes of a place in the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 semi-finals alive.

Naranbold scored in the 50 and 66 minutes to give the Mongolians their first win of this year's competition and sets up a crucial showdown with Laos on Wednesday as the two countries battle it out for Group B's remaining berth in the last four.

The result confirms Macau's position as Group B winners and also means Sri Lanka are eliminated from the competition with their game against Macau on Wednesday still to play.

Mongolia controlled the tempo throughout much of the first half as they dominated possession, but it was the Sri Lankans who carved out the better opportunities even though neither side was able to find the back of the net in the opening 45 minutes.

Liyana Bandara's attempt from the edge of the area gave 'keeper Batsaikhan Ariunbold a few problems in the seventh minute while Mohamed Rifnas stabbed his effort just wide following Johar Zarwan's 18 minutes corner.

At the other end, Serodyan Gankhuyag looked set to give the Mongolians the lead in the 32 minutes when Oyunbat Bayarjargal headed Batmunkh Erkhembayar's cross from the right into his path, only for the shot to go wide.

PENALTY MAN NARANBOLD AIMS TO SCORE AGAIN IN CRUCIAL LAOS GAME

The Sri Lankans closed out the half in attacking mode, and it was something of a surprise that Duddley Steinwall's team were unable to go into the break without at least a goal to their name. Kavindu Ishan's pace down the right unnerved the Mongolian defence and his low pass into the box was eventually fired across the face of goal by Bandara.

Rifnas bent his side-footed effort just wide of the post two minutes before the break while Zarwan was also just off target with his attempt in the dying seconds of the half.

Five minutes into the second half, Sri Lanka were to rue those missed opportunities as the Mongolians took the lead.

IMAI PLEASED WITH MONGOLIA'S LUCKY FORTUITOUS OVER SRI LANKA

Naranbold's speculative shot at goal through a crowded penalty area smashed into the arm of Edison Figurado and referee Muhammad Nazmi Nasaruddin had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Naranbold stepped up to thump his spot kick into the top corner of Sujan Perera's goal.

Sixteen minutes later, the Mongolians claimed their second also from the penalty spot when Dumidu Wasanthaka was judged to have brought down Battur Davaajav after he latched onto Bayarjargal's perfectly weighted through ball and Naranbold scored again to seal the win.

Mongolia will now play Laos on Wednesday and a draw will be enough to take Toshiaki Imai's team into the knockout phase of the competition.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Aspiring MAs Benefit from Development Focus of AFC Solidarity Cup

Kuching, November 12 (AFC): Football development and education have been the core focus areas at the inaugural Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Solidarity Cup currently taking place in Sarawak, Malaysia. With fans following the action on the field, off the pitch, the participating Member Associations have been taking part in a series of education and training courses to strengthen their capabilities in areas such as event management, sports medicine and technical analysis.

As part of the AFC's efforts to foster the continual improvement of coaching among aspiring Member Associations, technical directors and head coaches from the participating MAs have been given the opportunity to reflect on the key lessons from the competition at the Technical Workshop Programme, currently taking place at the Sarawak Stadium.

The four-day programme will enable participants to examine and analyse the technical aspects of the teams' performance in the competition's group stage, the upcoming semi-final matches and enhance their expertise in team preparation and reality-based trainings.

"The workshop has been great because I got to meet coaching staff from the other countries taking part in the competition. We learned from each other, for example, when to deploy compact play and what to do in different weather conditions as we have extreme winter conditions in Mongolia. We also looked at how other teams rotated their players. It was an exciting tournament and the workshop was an eye-opening experience," said Zorigt Battulga, Mongolia assistant coach.

Earlier in the competition, medical practitioners from the participating teams, Football Association of Malaysia and the Local Organising Committee attended a football medicine seminar for an opportunity to raise their medical competencies and establish a unified understanding of sports medicine in Asia.

In partnership with ZOLL Medical Corporation, the seminar focused on topics such as Pre-Competition Medical Assessment (PCMA), prevention and management of injuries, nutrition, on-pitch emergencies, trauma and concussion, sudden cardiac arrest, exercise induced asthma, diabetic footballers and anti-doping.

"We are grateful for this opportunity. This is a unique approach that allows medical practitioners to not only clarify our assumptions, but also to apply the lessons and practices as we prepare our teams throughout the duration of the competition", said Dr. Seng Aloun Kietsavanh, team doctor from the Lao Football Federation.

After an exciting group stage, the AFC Solidarity Cup will continue today with Nepal taking on Laos in the first semi-final at 4.30pm local time. Meanwhile Group B winners Macau are preparing to face Brunei in the second match at 7.30pm at the Sarawak Stadium.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Marat Gafurov Defends Belt Against Jadambaa With Sixth Straight Rear-Naked Choke

November 11 (Asia One) ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat "Cobra" Gafurov successfully defended his title against challenger and former champion Narantungalag "Tungaa" Jadambaa of Mongolia in the co-main event of ONE: DEFENDING HONOR. The bout took place Friday night, 11 November, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The champion gave the performance of a lifetime, beating Jadambaa with ease to win via rear-naked choke at 4:50 of the first round, delighting the crowd with an exciting finish.

It was the champion's second title defense after taking the belt from Jadambaa a year ago.

Jadambaa, who was well aware of Gafurov's string of rear-naked choke victories, tried his best to keep Gafurov from taking the fight to the ground.

After a brief exchange of strikes however, action quickly went to the mat when Jadambaa missed a kick and fell to the canvas. Gafurov followed the Mongolian down and that's where he worked his Brazilian jiu-jitsu magic.

Jadambaa was able to defend for a few moments, but once Gafurov re-established himself, the choke came easier. The end came swiftly as Jadambaa was caught in a precarious situation with no choice but to fall asleep, having refused to tap out.

It was a huge difference from their first encounter, when Gafurov had to dig deep after getting rocked by Jadambaa's power shots. This time, Gafurov played right into his strengths, wasting no time foolishly trying to test his striking against a tough challenger.

The rematch showcased once again Gafurov's technical grappling brilliance. At this stage in his career, Gafurov is finding it more and more difficult to find a good challenge. The Russian champion then expressed his interest to make a run at the ONE Lightweight World Championship in the post-fight interview.

With the victory, Gafurov improves his overall record to a perfect 15-0, notching his sixth straight rear-naked choke victory for a probable world record, while Jadambaa falls to 12-5.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Art & Entertainment

State Academic Theater of Drama to celebrate its 85th anniversary

November 4 (UB Post) The State Academic Theater of Drama is planning to organize a number of events to celebrate its 85th anniversary, including theatrical performances, art exhibitions, and more.

"Jargaagui Nar" (The Sun That Hasn't Set) will open at the theater on November 4. The State Academic Theater of Drama is staging the play to commemorate the 110th birthday of the late poet, author, playwright, and founder of the Mongolian Writer's Union D.Natsagdorj's. Cultural Merit Worker Sh.Gurbazar wrote "Jargaagui Nar", and it will be directed by Ch.Tuvshin.

Young actor B.Shinebayar will be portraying D.Natsagdorj, and actress N.Bayarmaa is playing Ts.Natsagdorj's wife, Pagmadulam.

Director Ch.Tuvshin said, "This play will be a big break. People are becoming more educated these days. D.Natsagdorj was a great poet and a wonderful person. We hope to teach the public about D.Natsagdorj. We did a lot of research for this play. We are aiming to show the audience the personal life and passion of D.Natsagdorj. The name of the play means D.Natsagdorj is still shining in our hearts, and he is the sun that hasn't set yet."

Anniversary events for the State Academic Theater of Drama will also take place on November 10, 11, and 12.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Nat'l Folk Song and Dance Ensemble becomes a Grand Theatre

Ulaanbaatar, November 3 (MONTSAME) The National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble has a history of more than seven decades. It is time to walk in line with the other global organizations by having a similar legal status, say professional artists.

When the ensemble is developed into a grand theatre, wider opportunities would open up for artists through promoting many genres of ethnic folklores of Mongolia, exploiting fully repertory and advancing its foreign relations and cooperation.

The proposal was backed by the cabinet on the regular meeting of November 2.

The National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble was established in 1945 with a name "Bureau of Entertainment and Concerts", with a total of 62 personnel, including 19 singers, 27 musicians and 13 dancers, along with the managers and directors. The organization has been gradually enlarged into a collective with more than 190 personnel.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

'Asian Queen' G.Oyungerel to host 'Mongolia's Next Top Model'

November 9 (news.mn) 'Mongolia's Next Top Model' show is being filmed by Education TV. The show is the Mongolian version of 'America's Next Top Model', the most successful and longest-running fashion reality TV series in history. Tyra Banks' Next Top Model is currently shown on TV in 170 countries and regions around the world.

On 8th November,  Education TV finished filming the trailer of the show; registration starts next week. A total of 14 Mongolian models, including six men and eight women, will compete in the 16 episodes of the show.

'Asian Queen' and honoured top model, G.Oyungerel, will host Mongolia's 'Next Top Model' show. It is the third international TV show to be aired in Mongolia. The producer of 'America's Next Top Model' will arrive in Mongolia to provide suggestions and advice.

E.Enkhbold, Mongolia's most successful male model, is the executive producer of the show. He said; 'the winner will take a cash prize, a modeling contract with Hong Kong's 'SMI Movie' and a fashion feature with Mongolian sponsors.

'America's Next Top Model' series was first aired in 2013.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

360° exhibition returns for 4th year

By Kristine de Leon

November 10 (UB Post) Blue Moon Art Gallery is currently celebrating the fourth anniversary of the annual juried art exhibition "360°". Located on the first floor of BlueMon Center, the open "no theme" exhibition is a showcase of outstanding works of Mongolian contemporary art.

Beginning in the 1990s, a generation of artists began to embrace the concept of storytelling to articulate the politics of identity and difference, investing both abstract and representational forms with narrative content. The  fourth annual "360°" juried exhibition offers an expansive view of the new paradigms for storytelling forged over the last two decades to communicate ideas about race, gender, sexuality, history, and politics, among other trenchant themes.

Bringing together over 30 works from artists who submitted pieces for consideration, "360°" examines the diverse ways in which artists today engage narrative through installation, painting, photography, sculpture, illustration, and performance. For these artists, storytelling does not necessarily require plots, characters, or settings. Rather, narrative potential lies in everyday objects and materials, and their embedded cultural associations. In projects created through extensive research, acts of appropriation, or performance, the artists in "360°" uncover layers of meaning, turning to individual experience as a means of conveying shared stories, whether real or fictional.

Situated at the center of the exhibition is artist L.Munkhgerel's installation, titled "#…", a multi-component interactive piece that engages the dynamic relationship between current trends and art. The resulting polyphony signals the diverse interpretive potential that lies within the everyday objects attached to worn door of a ger. Facing the installation, two landscape paintings by artists Ch.Bolor and G.Amgalanbaatar, respectively titled "Stone of the Great Steppe" and "The Sun in the Night", capture the visitor's eye with their harmonious juxtaposition and blending of earthy tones of reds, oranges, and yellows into peaceful scenes of the steppe.

At one end of the gallery, a bright, colorful painting by S.Erdene seems to be an exploration of sexuality and femininity, aptly titled "Arousal", and depicts a female figure in a suggestive pose. O.Batzorig's sculpture, at the opposite end of the gallery, is similarly replete with sexual imagery. The sculpture, titled "Woman", depicts a horned abstraction of a sensous female figure. On an adjacent wall, B.Uyanga's media art, titled "The Etheric Body", references the theosophical concept of the "astral body". Centered in the painting of a universe-like world is a photograph of a close-up view of a woman's face in a painting of the universe.

The "360°" juried exhibition presents interesting works in the different styles of the participating artists. There is definitely something for everyone here, whether you like conceptual, performance, or media art.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Poets, writers honor memory of D.Natsagdorj- founding father of contemporary literature

Ulaanbaatar, November 11 (MONTSAME) The 110th anniversary of birth of Natsagdorj Dashdorj, the founder of Mongolia's contemporary literature, is being marked this November 17. In commemoration, the staffers and artists of the State Academic Theatre of Drama, the Union of Mongolian Writers and the Association of Mongolian Arts Workers paid tribute and laid wreaths to the Statue of D.Natsagdorj on November 11.

The Union of Mongolian Writers have premiered "The Sun, Unset" drama about D.Natsagdorj, and dedicated the annual "Utgyn Chimeg" poetry festival to the memory of the prominent writer.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Beauty Talks with Miss World Mongolia Bayartsetseg Altangerel

November 7 (Missology.org) Bayartsetseg Altangerel is not a stranger in the world of international beauty pageants. The Oriental beauty was Miss International Mongolia 2014, Miss Earth Mongolia 2015 (and a Top 16 finisher at Miss Earth 2015) and now Miss World Mongolia 2016. Indeed, her vast experience is a confidence booster plus her foray in the reel world (having appeared in the Netflix hit Marco Polo series) developed further her personality. Recently, Missosology got a chance to talk with her and she gleefully took some time off for an exclusive interview.

Tell us something that most people don't know about you?

When I was a second-grade university student I published a book on opening a business in Mongolia. I also took care of a hurt baby falcon as a child.

Can you give us a small preview of your Beauty with a Purpose project?

This was a tricky one. I wanted it to be meaningful and sustainable. After long brainstorming with friends we decided to focus on a project I was already familiar with. Five years ago, I co-founded a mentoring program for young orphans, to help them with the transition to adulthood. The popularity of the Miss World platform allows me to gather supporters and tap into more financing. To talk numbers, by the end of the year my team and I aim to match additional 100 orphans with responsible mentors. I feel proud to make a small contribution in potentially changing the life to the better of so many of our children.

If the Dances of the World segment was still part of the pageant, which Mongolian dance would you like to showcase at Miss World?

I was planning to present a blend between ancient nomadic and contemporary dance. I was hoping to express that all of us are changing and that is good to embrace such change. It is a symbiosis in many ways, not a contradiction, even though, Dances of the World got cancelled this year.

Among the Miss World titleholders, who do you admire the most and why?

I admire Miss World Aishwarya Rai for being a role model for many women out there. Besides becoming a renowned actor and model around the world, she is also a Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS).

Can you share your beauty secret?

Live in the moment. Being healthy is important, but in the end, it's all about filling your heart with laughs and joy.

What are your expectations with the host city?

I have lived for a year in the greater San Francisco area, but never had the chance to go to the host city. I am excited to go there, as there is a big Mongolian community nearby, so I am looking forward to get in touch with them.

In your opinion is it outdated to still have a swimsuit competition at beauty pageants?

I think every woman should be able to make her own choices. A swimsuit competition can be empowering for women; it can show their strength and beauty. I think the Miss World pageant as the oldest and most respected pageant in the world sets a strong sign by dropping this segment. Miss World is a platform to celebrate women in all their diversity and I am pretty excited to finally be part of this.

How would you describe Mongolia to your fellow contestants?

Mongolia is a far-out destination, one of the last surviving nomadic societies, a remote region of raw beauty, hidden from the world for many years. Our unique history and way of life forms a close bond between all Mongolians. We are a family on an uncertain path, one foot in the world of modernization, one foot inside the yurt with all its traditions and culture.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

An Apology From Mongolia Men's Conquering Nomads

(Satire V) On behalf of all of us at Mongolia Men's Team of Conquering Nomads, we sincerely apologize for the harm our words and actions have caused Eurasians everywhere, and especially our close friends on the Mamluk Team. Our unstoppable armies have been blessed with the opportunity to know all of the great states of Asia and Europe, receive their cities and farmland, and form with them alliances built upon the unbreakable foundation of fear and military force. In return, we hurt them with the things we did, in the form of wanton destruction and the murders of vast swaths of people throughout the land, and with the things we did not do, in the form of not caring about them or their lives in any way, and for that we are very sorry. 

We want to affirm that the ruthless destruction of the tribes and nations of Eurasia does not reflect our view of the members of these states or of people in general. The relationship we have enjoyed with these societies to this day means the world to us, and we are deeply ashamed that it took a public revelation, a loss of trust, and damaged friendships for us to fully grasp the gravity of our conduct, for which each member of our unstoppable army takes full and equal responsibility. No human civilization, complete with bazaars and smithies, deserves to be treated in this manner; not our neighboring states, not the states that neighbor those states, not even the states that neighbor those states that neighbor our neighboring states. We apologize to them, and to all those who trusted us, supported us, and believed in us. 

Please do not miscontrue our silence up to this point as a lack of remorse on our part. Out of respect for the Mamluk team, who was able to ultimately defeat our armies in the field of combat, we postponed the release of our public apology so as not to burden them with further distractions. Now that circumstances have risen that have caused the dissolution of our previously ever-growing empire, we feel it is appropriate and necessary to address the situation publicly. We accept responsibility for the mistakes and serious lapses in judgment that have led us here, and, in addition to watching our great continent-wide be ripped apart by petty squabbles over land, are shifting our focus toward the concrete actions we can take to address the fundamental issue of the unbreakable desire for the destruction of all who oppose us in our community. 

When our current Khan took over rule in 1260, he sparked a massive culture change, one in which it is paramount to hold each other accountable for our actions. These conquerings, an inexcusable manifestation of wanton destruction and bloodlust on our part, persisted in spite of this culture change, and we must now hold ourselves accountable for them. Our khans have also taught us to be open in accepting our mistakes and to always focus on the next most important thing -- and the next most important thing for us now is to do everything we can to start rebuilding the trust and relationships we severed, while doing anything possible to help heal the pain we have caused the nation states of Europe and Asia, their communities, and communities everywhere. 

To do so, we must first confront the issues of insatiable lust for land and influence within our own yurts, so that we can take up the call issued by the people of the Mamluk tribe to join them in combatting this sort of behavior. Starting with ourselves, all players on this team now commit our efforts to spur a cultural change that goes beyond the scope of our own team. 

Over the course of the previous moons, we have been devoting our attention to this problem as our top priority, and our meetings as an army have yielded a few specific proposals to educate ourselves and to help others come to the same realizations that we reached without repeating our mistakes. We hope to guide conversation among the other conquering teams of the world about the murder of millions of civilians, and we ask for input from the community at large, openly welcoming and encouraging any and all constructive discussion of and collaboration with our efforts. 

There are no excuses for our behavior, and all we can do now is take it upon ourselves to be an example of change for the better. Our apology comes from a place of optimism and a willingness to advance an agenda of not fucking murdering everyone that is in line with the relationships that we want to cultivate. We take responsibility for our actions, and we accept the consequences that come from them and now focus on what we can do to move forward. We wholeheartedly promise to do anything in our power to build a more respectful and harmonious set of states in Eurasia, and in the world at large.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Travel

Chinggis Khaan International Airport launches a new system for passenger security checks

November 4 (UB Post) Mongolia has introduced a new passenger security system which identifies passengers by passport and fingerprint scans, and allows them to go through automated arrival and departure examination procedures at Chinggis Khaan International Airport.

Anyone interested in using the new system can register for it prior to their departure at the Departures Gate at Chinggis Khaan International Airport, or fill out an application and provide their passport for processing at Dunjingarav State Service Center, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

There is no charge for registration or the use of the automated system.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Visa fees will be paid in Mongolian Tugrik only

November 10 (gogo.mn) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat obliged affiliated ministries on several issues at the beginning of the cabinet meeting. 

Particularly, Prime Minister gave a concrete task to authorities of Oyu Tolgoi, Erdenes-Tavantolgoi, Energy Resource and local Tavantolgoi company when he was working in Umnugobi aimag during the weekend. In regards, he obliged affiliated ministries to establish a working group in charge of developing proposal on measures to be taken on Gashuunsuhait port, ensuring the implementation and monitoring upon fulfillment of tasks. 

Moreover, he assigned Deputy Minister of Mongolia to provide winter preparation while he assigned Minister of Finance to study the possibility to freeze the increase in exchange rate and to develop affiliated draft law if needed.  

In addition, he engaged all foreign embassies, operating in Mongolia to receive their visa fees in national currency of Mongolia, the Tugrik (MNT).

Link to article

Back to Headlines

How Long Can Russian and Mongolian Bureaucracy Keep You Hostage?

November 10 (Sailing Vessel Guiding Light) Since my dad and I are using the Trans-Siberian train to travel between Moscow to Mongolia and then back to Russia to continue our eastward adventure, we had to clear in and out of Russia and Mongolia twice.

Trust me when I say I understand how bureaucracy creeps in whenever you travel from one country to the next due to my charters, but I do believe stereo typically the Russians are renowned for taking bureaucracy to whole new level. I would love to be able to refute this stereotype, but sadly this blog will simply reinforce it.

The first time our train pulled into the Russian check point around 8pm and we spent almost two hours as a parade of officials came aboard. First there was a guy that asked to see our passport and visas, then handed them back, and left. I was thinking wow that was simple. Haha the joke was on me, apparently his sole job was to make sure we had a passport. Next by went a dog and handler (drug sniffing I assume) and then we had the immigrations lady stop by and the inspection was on. She looked closely at me, my passport photo, and my visa photo (much closer than any other country). Once she was sure I was me, she went to work on my passport, visa, and various stamps I had. To do this she used a magnifying glass to go over what seemed like every inch of the book. Once satisfied she finally stamped an exit stamp in the passport and took my declaration form from when I checked in at the airport.

Whee, done!?! Not quite! Now comes the customs guy that says to exit the cabin as he searches under the bed, in the heater, under the overhead storage, in the radiator across the hall, and who knows where else. His partner followed and asked to see our bags and chose one at random and we had to open it up so he could see the dirty laundry we were smuggling.

Ok, now we are done, I mean it this time, except that was just the Russian side of the boarder. AND that was to leave the country. Once we got to the Mongolian check point we had to go through the same process except they actually took all the passports with them and returned them when they were done.

That was a four hour lesson in bureaucracy, which I thought was quite enough but apparently they did not (or they wanted to test my patience) because on our return to Russia after a week in Mongolia we reversed the process. This time the process took nine hours. Yes, you read that correctly NINE HOURS!!!! Of course not one of the officials smiled and on the way back I tried my hardest to be polite and friendly to see if I could get the Russian immigration lady to smile, by saying "good morning", "I like your nails", "thank you", and "have a nice day". I am pretty sure they will get fired if they even attempt to smile, so my mission was a failure. So sad.

The worst part for my father was that they locked you out of the restrooms on the train thirty minutes before arriving at the station and keep you in your cabin until the check in or out is complete for you (luckily not the entire time). At that time, they will allow you to exit the train and use the station's toilet, for a fee! It was not much but my dad is convinced it is a conspiracy between the station and the train to make him pay.

Now it is time for this blog document my time traveling among the nomadic locals of Mongolia and I hope you are as intrigued as I am and will continue to return each day. You can also LIKE me on Facebook, FOLLOW me on Instagram, or SUBSCRIBE to me on YouTube so you don't miss any of my adventures as we explore this last truly nomadic country.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Mongolia From Above: Khövsgöl & Terelj

November 8 (Grand Circle Travel) A note from independent filmmaker David Conover on why he chose this film:

Mongolia's expansive and jaw-dropping landscape absolutely must be seen from an aerial perspective! Filmmaker Kaz Kang's camera sweeps mindfully over green forests, over fields stretching to distant mountains, and over the still waters of Khövsgöl Nuur, Mongolia's largest freshwater lake. The sky above is equally stunning. Wow!

Mongolia - Khövsgöl and Terelj - Produced by Peter Kang

Link to article (and video)

Back to Headlines

What Places Do Travel Agents Dream of Visiting?

November 2 (Travel Pulse) Travel agents have bucket lists too – places they haven't traveled to yet, but hope to one day. We asked some travel agents to let us in on what's on their bucket list.

Pam Walker, an affiliate of Travel Experts, Walker Adventures, LTD dreams of going to Mongolia. Mongolia is a nation bordered by China and Russia, and centers around Genghis Khan Square. It's one of the world's highest countries and suffers from temperature extremes.

Ever since Jill Petrowsky was a little girl, she has wanted to visit Greece. "Mykonos and Santorini are a must see for me and I cannot wait to spend time there," said Petrowsky. "I have been dreaming of going there ever since I was a little girl.

"Mongolia is just one for me, so mysterious and otherworldly," said Walker who has been to 91 countries. "I still want to go to the 'stans' as well."

Those are the seven countries in Central Asia with the suffix "-stan": Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Getty Images: 20 reasons why Mongolia is one of the top travel destinations ...

Link to album

Back to Headlines

Mongolia: The Destination that Epitomizes Getting Away From It All

On a horseback-riding trip across Mongolia, a former D.C. insider and her young son gallop through the storied land of warriors and nomads

November 10 (WSJ) WHEN YOUR travel agent requires you sign up for emergency medical evacuation insurance before she'll book your trip, you know you're in for a different kind of vacation. Leaving the Obama administration after six intense years, I'd decided to take the phrase "getting away from it all" literally. Mongolia. Even the name "Outer Mongolia" is shorthand for middle of nowhere. And so, unemployed and a little burned out, I planned a two-week horseback riding trek across the Mongolian steppe with my 9-year-old son. We'd be camping for much of that time, hours from the nearest paved road, much less the nearest hospital. I packed sunscreen and Neosporin, half chaps and a cartload of protein bars. I signed my son up for two weeks of riding lessons. And I hoped for the best.

In the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar we met our guides and the other riders in our small group, a lawyer from Northern California traveling with a friend, her teenage daughter and her daughter's friend. Over dinner we taught our new traveling companions the limited Mongolian horse vocabulary we'd learned online: "choo" for go, "hootch" for stop. The next morning we all set out from the city in a bright yellow minibus.

Home to the world's northernmost capital city, populated by warriors and nomads and endowed with a raw natural beauty, Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country on earth. It is bigger than France, Italy, Spain and England combined, yet has a population only slightly larger than that of Brooklyn. Driving here is its own kind of meditation. The steppe extends all around, like a sea of undulating green. Herds of horses, sheep and immense, shaggy yaks gather to graze in the valleys. In the 12th century these same grasslands, stretching from China to Hungary, provided an expressway for the Mongol army to conquer, on horseback, history's largest contiguous land empire. We drove for six hours without seeing a tree or a fence. I thought of the rush-hour commute I was missing in D.C., already a lifetime away.

We'd be conquering the steppe on the backs of pony-size Mongolian horses, which may sound benign enough, and they are indeed shorter and stockier than, say, Seabiscuit. But these "ponies" are also the descendants of Genghis Khan's warhorses, bred to run for days at a time and withstand winters of up to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. We met our own mounts at a stable in the picturesque Arkhangai province where we'd be doing most of our riding. We asked for the names of our horses but discovered they were called simply by their colors. I was riding "Brown," my son was on "Beige." I guess Mongolian horsemen aren't the sentimental type.

Our days fell into a languid routine. We woke early to the sounds of the horses grazing around our tents. After breakfast we mounted up and headed out with a rousing cry of "choo!" (Often followed shortly by "hoooootch!") We rode 10 to 20 miles a day, through varied microclimates—arid hills, lush valleys, the occasional pine forest. One day we traveled through meadows of wildflowers, drifts of lavender that grew thickly right up to the horses' stomachs, suggesting a dream sequence from a perfume commercial. As all the riders picked up confidence, we picked up the pace. Trying to beat nightfall back to camp one afternoon, we took off at a gallop alongside a river. We didn't stop for almost an hour, scattering herds of sheep and galumphing yaks in front of us, mud flying and our faces streaked with wind tears. "That was awesome," said my son as we pulled up into camp in the darkling twilight.

Every day we stopped to visit with herding families we encountered along the way. When our legs got tired or we needed a break, we headed for the nearest ger camp on the horizon—a few sturdy felt-covered yurts and some livestock. Home to generations of Mongolians, gers can be disassembled and moved with the seasons. Aside from the occasional solar panel outside the door, or a Communist-era television propped inside near the family altar, they remain the same "circular houses" described by Marco Polo 800 years ago. With each visit, we were offered dried milk curds and salty milk tea, and occasionally, vodka made from fermented mare's milk—all an acquired taste which I never acquired. (A few of us slipped milk curds in our pockets rather than offend the hosts.)

After a long day of riding, we would pull up into a new camp every night. While the cook made mutton stew or pasta on a gas burner, we set up our tents. After dinner, we'd play soccer or cards with the wranglers and tell ghost stories around a fire. Despite the rocky ground and occasional invading grasshopper, I slept better than I had in years.

We planned our trip to coincide with the two-day festival of Naadam, a nationwide summer celebration of what Mongolians call the "Three Manly Sports"—archery, horse racing and wrestling. We spent Nadaam in the small town of Rashaant, watching kids my son's age and younger race thundering horses along a 10-mile course, bareback and barefoot. We saw men and women, in elegant tunics, shoot ribbon-bedecked arrows at far-off targets. And we held our breaths during the long, tense matches of deadly serious wrestling, before and after which the wrestlers performed an "eagle dance"—a slow-motion ritual of flapping and kicking. It was strangely dignified, considering the wrestlers were all hefty men in satin crop tops, embroidered briefs and velvet hats shaped like Sorry game pieces.

On one of our last days, we rode to a forest hot springs. There we met a few English-speaking locals and shared our running joke of yelling "hootch your horse!" if a rider took off too fast. "Why would you do that?" they asked, clearly puzzled. They explained that "hootch," at least the way we pronounced it, was actually the Mongolian word for "cow." And that may be my most enduring image of the trip: A group of smelly, exhilarated Americans galloping across the steppe with their Mongolian guides too polite to ask why they've been yelling "Cow!" at their horses.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

5 Reasons Mongolia Is a Photographer's Paradise

November 3 (NOMADasaurus) There are few places in the world that are as famous, yet unknown, as Mongolia. It's a country that has intrigued curious travellers for decades, with many wondering what life on the steppe is really like.

But due to whatever reason, it is a nation that few actually take the leap to visit, and this is an absolute shame. Mongolia is one of the most fascinating, picturesque, and constantly challenging places to explore, and this transforms into countless photographic opportunities that are there.

We spent two months backpacking across Mongolia, visiting nomadic tribes, trekking in the mountains, visiting the Gobi Desert and spending as much time as possible with the hospitable people. It was an experience we will never forget, and the entire time we had our cameras by our sides.

Here are 5 reasons why Mongolia is a photographer's paradise!

1# Insane Sunsets

Mongolia is known as the Land of the Blue Sky, and during the day it is easy to see why. With little pollution outside of the capital city, the sky is always a set in a vibrant and lively slate.

These gorgeous days quickly convert into sensational sunsets, with colours emerging that defy imagination.

Throw in a few wild horses and you'll walk away with a shot worth framing.

2# The Tsaatan Reindeer Herders

The Dukha people (also known as the Tsaatan) are a nomadic tribe living in the far north of central Mongolia, right on the border of Siberia.

The 500 people have become famous over the years for their reliance on their herds of reindeer, which live with them in the remote taiga. They use the reindeer for transport and milk, and their fur and antlers for clothing and tools.

Reaching the Tsaatan reindeer herders requires an intense and exhausting two-day horse trek through steppe and forest, and the only accommodation up there is camping or sleeping in an ortz, which is like a tepee. But the reward is well worth the effort.

3# The Gobi Desert

The Gobi is one of the largest deserts on the planet, and it stretches over 800'000 square kilometres. Meaning "waterless", the Gobi is synonymous with travel in Mongolia, and it could be argued that no trip to this nation is complete without a visit to the enormous semi-desert.

But there is a lot more to the Gobi Desert than just never-ending stretches of sand, and a photographer could spend weeks wandering around the region.

Just a few of the highlights are the countless dinosaur fossils scattered around, the Saxaul Forest striking against a bare backdrop, the largest sand dune in the country and, surprisingly, Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park.

Known as the Three Beauties of the Gobi. This national park is a lush, green landscape complete with fast flowing rivers and chunks of ice that survive the entire summer; a truly unique photography experience.

4# Nomadic People

The entire population of Mongolia is only 3 million, and a huge proportion of those people live as nomads.

Experiencing the Mongolian nomadic way of life is a magnificent opportunity that is revered by all travellers. Witnessing them live off the land, tend to their livestock and welcome people at any time of day or night provides a wonderful lesson in humility.

Their openness and willingness to pose for photos makes sure you'll leave with some heartwarming shots.

5# Sprawling Steppe

The vastness of Mongolia is immensely overwhelming. Driving across the country really gives a beautiful understanding of just how open this country is.

The emptiness doesn't just create long-lasting impressions; it makes for some beautiful photographic opportunities.

Almost every direction you look the land just seems to go on forever. Be prepared to chew through your batteries!

NOMADasaurus

Alesha Bradford and Jarryd Salem are the award winning writers and photographers behind the adventure travel blog NOMADasaurus. Travelling the world together since 2008, adventure travel is their passion, and through their stories and images they promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as they go. Follow their journey on Facebook and Instagram.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

6 Reasons to Make Mongolia Your Next Travel Destination

October 24 (Discover Mongolia Travel) If Mongolia isn't at the top of your travel destinations right now, you're not alone...

In a world of over 7 billion people, fewer than 500,000 visited Mongolia last year—and that's actually not a bad thing.

Unlike China, which sees about 25 million tourists a year, or Australia (which gets about 6.5 million), Mongolia remains unblemished and unaffected by the consumerism that accompanies such a huge influx of visitors.

Mongolia is one of the last countries on earth that preserves its traditional customs and way of life. Its vast expanses of barely populated deserts and plains are virtually unchanged over the millennia.

When you visit Mongolia, you are one of the rare souls who gets to experience a simple and authentic way of life that has survived for thousands of years—and that alone is reason enough to come.

Of course, there are many more reasons to make Mongolia your next destination—and if you're searching for reasons to visit this magical place, here are six to tips to you.

1. Mongolia Has a Long and Significant History

The world's first confirmed dinosaur eggs, as well as one of the largest dinosaur footprints, were discovered in the Gobi.

Anthropologically, humans have lived in Mongolia since at least the Bronze Age; the Havtsgait Valley is renowned for for its petroglyphs from that era.

In the 13th century, Chinggis Khan reshaped history, forcing a clash between East and West and commanding the largest contiguous empire the world has ever seen, stretching from the Sea of Japan to the Caspian Sea.

Then followed centuries of Chinese rule, beginning with the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty. This ultimately collapsed in the 20th century, when Mongolia declared its independence. 

A 70-year alliance with the Soviet empire ended in the 1990s, leading to our current democratic state.

When you visit Mongolia, each layer of our distinct cultural history is still present, waiting for you to discover and explore.

2. Mongolia's Cuisine is Like None in The World

You might guess that Mongolian cuisine has much in common with Chinese cuisine, but China's—and Russia's—influence is less than you'd imagine.

Much of Mongolia's food culture is traced to our extreme climate and nomadic way of life.

Meat and fat from animals, including camel, sheep, goat, cattle, and even horse (which we call the "Five Snouts"), form the basis of our diet. These are supplemented by rich dairy cream (urum) and soft kefir yogurt, with the occasional vegetables and starches.

Hearty stews and meat-filled dumplings are customary.

Traditional Mongolian foods such as khorkhog, a meat stew cooked with hot stones. Boodog, goat or marmot prepared by placing heated stones into the animal's cavity and cooking the meat from the inside out.

Airag, is our national drink made of fermented mare's milk are all unique to our country—and made more delicious when shared with a nomadic family around a campfire.

Mongolian barbeque prepared the traditional way offers visitors a unique way to "taste" our amazing country. And all visitors should experience our suutei tsai, the Mongolia salty milk tea.

3. Mongolia Has an Endless Expanse of Unexplored, Pristine Terrain

The Gobi is a mysterious region, lying in the rain shadow of the Himalayas.

It's a cold desert measuring 500,000 square miles; only 5% is covered in sand dunes.

Unlike other desserts, it has abundant plant and animal life. This includes trees, grasses, flowers—and camels, gazelles, wild asses, and snow leopards.

Eastern Mongolia is the land of Chinggis Khan, with endless steppes and glorious mountains, the center of mysterious stories from ancient times.

Western Mongolia is known for its spectacular riverslakes, and glaciers—and the steep Altai Mountains.

It's also the home of a large concentration of nomadic families, ethnic Kazakhs, who are proud to display their eagle hunting expertise.

Central and northern Mongolia offers a vast panorama of spectacular natural scenery.This area includes wetlands and grasslands, some of which are protected by their status as national parks and UNESCO heritage sites.

It's a birdwatcher's paradise; there are over 400 species of birds native to Mongolia.

No matter the type of terrain that appeals to you, you'll find it in abundance in Mongolia.

4.Mongolia is Home to Rare Nomadic Peoples

Mongolia is the home of some of the world's last riaining nomadic cultures, who follow a way of life that extends unbroken over 3,000 years.

There are hundreds of thousands of nomads in Mongolia; estimates suggest that between 25% to 40% of our population is nomadic.

There are three main nomadic cultures here:

>The horse nomads who primarily herd sheep and goats on horseback.
>The camel nomads
>The Tsaatan or Dhuka people, whose lives are structured around reindeer.

Tsaatan people rarely slaughter their reindeer, they are used primarily for milk. Reindeer yogurt and cheese are staples of their diet. They also ride the reindeer and use this as pack animals in the taiga forest area.

They are extraordinarily uncommon; only a small number of Tsaatan families remain in the world.

Nomad families live in gers, or rounded felt tents, which are still assembled in their centuries-old style.

Staying with a nomadic family, learning to milk the animals and make fresh dairy products, eating traditional nomadic food is one of the highlights of a visit to Mongolia.

5. Mongolia's Incredibly Vibrant National Cultural Diversity

The name "Mongol" first appeared in our lexicon in the 10th century, but there was no unified "Mongol" culture until Chinggis Khan united the warring tribes and factions in our country in the 13th century.

In fact, even today, our national identity and culture, from our governance to our societal structures are largely related to our nomadic, pastoral lifestyle and the legacy of Chinggis Khan.

Although a large majority of the population is ethnic Khalka Mongols, there are many different ethnic minority populations. These include Dorvod, Bayad, Buriad, Dariganga, Zahchin, and Torguud.

The largest ethnic minority is Kazakh, which makes up about 4% of the population.

Although Shamanism was the largest religion until the 16th century, today, most Mongols are Lamaist, a sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Prior to the Stalinist period of Mongolian history, there were thousands of Buddhist temples in the country, but some 700 of these were destroyed in the religious purges of that era.

There are still hundreds of monasteriesthe oldest of which, Erdene Zuu, dates back to the 1500s.

About 4% of the population is Sunni Muslim, mostly the Kazakhs in the west. There are a few thousand Christians in Mongolia by most estimates.

A Mongolian Celebration Should Not Be Missed

Mongolia's people love an excuse to celebrate. 

There are many different festivals and events throughout the year.

Naadam is the king of all, however, with a history dating back to the time of the Khans. Naadam celebrates the skills most revered in our country: Horsemanship and horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Naadam is celebrated each year in July.

The Mongol New Year, another major celebration, is called Tsagaan sar. This occurs sometime between January and March, depending on the lunar phase. Tsagaan sar preparations begin a month in advance and culminate in feasting and gift-giving—one gigantic party.Throughout the year, there are also many other regional and seasonal festivals and events.

Including the Eagle Hunting Festival celebrated by the Kazakhs. The Winter Snow and Ice Festival, which features sledding, ice skating, sleigh rides, and even ice sumo. The Camel Festival celebrates our rare Bactrian camels and the mysterious Gobi Desert.

6. Mongolia's Unmatched Biodiversity

It's a common misconception that Mongolia's extrie climate limits its biodiversity; quite the opposite is true.

Mongolia is a country of 1.5 million square kilometers (605,000 square miles), making it the 18th largest country in the world, and the least densely populated.

The Mongolian-Manchurian Steppe is a temperate grassland Biome of savannahs and feather grass.

It is home to an incredible variety of wildlife. Including pheasants, marmots, wolves, gazelles, and Przewalski's horse, the last surviving subspecies of wild horse.

Mongolia is also a very mountainous country, with many peaks reaching over 4,000 meters into the sky. Mountain sheep, ibex, wolf, elk, lynx, argali, and brown bears make their homes in the Mongolian mountains.

The country's bountiful lakes, rivers, and streams are packed with taimen and trout and other freshwater fish.

In fact, Mongolia has a reputation as a fisherman's paradise.

Beautiful Lake Hovsgol, our "Dark Blue Pearl," is one of the clearest lakes in the world, surrounded by lush forest and carpeted with wildflowers and meadows.

The Most Enigmatic Feature Is...

The Great Gobi National Park is one of the world's largest biospheres, larger in size than the country of Switzerland. The last of the world's Bactrian camels live in the Gobi, along with the Gobi bears, the only bears that live in a desert.

The Gobi's extreme climate can range from -40 to +40 with winds of up to 140 kilometers per hour.

The desert is dotted with oases where agriculture flourishes—tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, peas, and beans are cultivated.

As you can see, there is far more to Mongolia than the casual tourist could possibly imagine. Perhaps this explains why it is such an elusive—and exclusive—place to visit.

Although it has been the destination for only the most daring and committed world traveler, Mongolia is far more accessible than ever before.

In fact, there are direct flights from several major international cities now.

If you dream of discovering somewhere virtually unknown and unexplored, Mongolia is the place for you.
If your passion is to experience life as it was hundreds, even thousands, of years ago, Mongolia is for you.
If only the rarest and most unique travel adventures will cure your wanderlust, Mongolia is for you.

Why not contact us today and start planning your tour?

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Karakorum, the Mongolia Countryside, and the broad definition of a Hotel

November 4 (boarding.today) Today I visit Karakorum, more breathtaking views of Mongolia and have a rising concern about the pile of plastic in the countryside. Another day discovering central Asia.

Cold start

Waking up in a Ger (that's what they call a Yurt here) in the late days of September includes the feeling of cold. The "bed" had enough blankets not to feel the cold, but as soon as I try to get a foot out, I can feel the freezing cold. My guide, not being much braver than me at that point, plays to be still asleep. So our driver gets up, and starts the fire. A couple of minutes later, the hardest part of that biting cold is gone.

Garbage

Another day on the road, and we're now about thousand kilometers away from Ulan Bator. The one thing that does not change however, is the amount of plastic & litter that surrounds the roads. No matter what state the roads are in, there are tons (literally) of plastic next to it. Mongolia can have the best views in the world, but it's also a big garbage belt.

Nomads used to trow things away when they moved four times per year, and that worked fine when that was vegetables and animal rests.  These days they bring plastic bottles and bags, and discard of them where they leave the camp.

Karakorum!

Our next stop is the old capital of Mongolia. Karakorum, a walled city, with some of the original structures still in it. When I arrive at the temple, a ceremony is ongoing. I love the energy that goes out from it, but don't dare to walk in. I don't want to be the ignorant tourist. Time to find the space to learn even more about Buddhism. Walking here is strolling in an amazing part of history. This city was capital of Mongolia from 1235 till 1260.

The "Hotel"

After we left Karakorum, it's time to head for a sleeping place. The driver and the guide had arranged for us to stay with a family that has their ger set up in this area. After hours of driving, it turns out that the family is not where they expected it. We end up for the night in a local hotel. Well, that's a nice name for a room upstairs from a small convenience store. The hardness of my sleeping places gets an all time low (high?) when my bed turns out to be a wooden structure without any form of mattress in it. In a country that has so much good energy, I cannot waste any more time in frustration. The promise that we can stand on the volcano tomorrow at sunrise, makes it ok for me. A Snickers bar as dinner, and off to "bed"…

Link to article

Back to Headlines

8 Ethical Travel Destinations to Visit in 2017

Want to champion human rights, animal welfare and eco-friendly practices on your next trip?

November 10 (U.S. News) Make a difference in these forward-thinking destinations.

Leaving a positive impact through responsible tourism practices can feel like a daunting task. While industry-wide initiatives to promote social and animal welfare and reduce carbon emissions have helped trailblaze a path for sustainable travel, determining which destinations allow you to empower the local community isn't always clear-cut. "Each of our travel choices makes a difference when we take a trip or go on holiday. Forward-thinking travelers should reward those destinations working towards a more sustainable future for people and the planet," says Costas Christ, one of the world's leading sustainable travel experts. If you're ready to tread lightly and do good on your next getaway, head to these destinations.

Canada

Norway

Aruba

Mongolia

In Mongolia, the local government has "worked really hard to get electricity and access to remote areas," Marceau says. In fact, 70 percent of the area's herder population is striving to attain 100 percent solar-powered electricity by 2017, Marceau explains. Mongolia has also championed land conservation and protected the region from mining and development, Marceau adds. And that's not all Mongolia has going for it. Mongolia also celebrates International Women's Day and pushes for senior welfare, Marceau explains. For a far-flung getaway like no other, tag along G Adventures' eight-day "Local Living" experience on the Mongolia-Nomadic Life tour ($1,099 per person), which takes visitors through Terejl National Park with nomadic families.

Bhutan, South Asia

Grenada

Costa Rica

Colombia

What's on the horizon?

According to Christ, "we are beginning to hit a tipping point where more and more travel companies – such as Uniworld River Cruises in Europe, who helped to establish the criteria for environmentally friendly river cruising, and Asia-based hospitality groups like Six Senses Resorts and Spas – have also made sustainability practices a cornerstone of their brand." Though he cautions the work is far from finished, "the United Nations declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism [for] Development will be a milestone in bringing more awareness on why the travel industry must make sustainability business as usual," he says.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

 

---

    

Suite 303, Level 3, Elite Complex

14 Chinggis Avenue, Sukhbaatar District 1

Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
Email: info@covermongolia.com
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

No comments:

Post a Comment