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Tuesday, November 22, 2016
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PCY closed +7.49% Monday to C$3.30
Vancouver, British Columbia, November 21 (FSCwire) - Prophecy Development Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY, OTC:PRPCD, Frankfurt:1P2N) announces that John Lee, of Suite 1301, 12 Harcourt Road, Central, Hong Kong, Executive Chairman of the Company, acquired 13,200 shares of Prophecy (the "Acquisition") through trading in the secondary market (i.e. the Toronto Stock Exchange) on November 18, 2016.
Prior to the Acquisition, Mr. Lee beneficially owned 1,099,053 shares, representing approximately 23.09% 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 1,112,253 shares representing an interest of approximately 23.36% of the Company's currently issued and outstanding shares, and 35.02% 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.
VKA closed -11.11% Monday to A$0.024
Viking Mines in Trading Halt Pending Announcement on Capital Raising
November 22 -- Pursuant to ASX Listing Rule 17.1 Viking Mines Limited ("the Company") requests a trading halt on its securities pending an announcement to the market regarding a Capital Raising.
The trading halt is to last until the earliest of the Company releasing the announcement to the market or commencement of trade on Thursday 24th November 2016.
November 21 (MSE) --
Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.
USD (blue), CNY (red) vs MNT in last 1 year:
Hong Kong, November 21, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the foreign currency issuer rating of Development Bank of Mongolia LLC (DBM) to Caa1 from B3. At the same time the backed senior unsecured debt and MTN program rating are downgraded to Caa1/(P)Caa1 from B3/(P)B3. Also, BCA/adjusted BCA are downgraded to ca from caa1. Counterparty Risk Assessment B3(cr) is confirmed, and NP(cr) is affirmed.
The outlook on the rating is stable.
Today's rating action concludes the review for downgrade initiated on 29 August 2016.
The rating actions follow Moody's downgrade of Mongolia's sovereign ratings to Caa1 from B3 with stable outlook on 18 November 2016. Please see the related press release for more information on the sovereign downgrade at this link: http://www.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PR_356806
The downgrade of DBM's rating is driven by its strong linkages with the Mongolian government -- as reflected by the government's direct ownership in the bank and its clear public policy mandate -- and follows the downgrade of Mongolia's sovereign rating to Caa1 stable.
DBM also benefits from certain forms of explicit government support through the DBM Law. Consequently, its ratings are closely linked to that of the sovereign, and Moody's expects the government to provide support to the bank, if needed.
The downgrade of the sovereign rating was driven by (1) the increased uncertainty over its ability to meet its direct and indirect debt service obligations over the next 18 months and to shore up Mongolia's external liquidity and (2) Moody's expectation that the budget deficit will remain wider for longer than previously expected, which, combined with a weaker growth outlook in the coming 2 years, will raise the government's debt burden.
The downgrade of DBM's BCA to ca from caa1 reflects the rising short-term liquidity pressure stemming from a $580 million payment due March 2017, and consequently the high likelihood that DBM will require extraordinary support from the government to meet this debt service obligation.
What Could Change the Rating - Up:
The bank's long-term rating incorporates a three-notch uplift from its BCA and is at the same level as the sovereign rating. As such, positive rating action is unlikely in the absence of upward pressure on Mongolia's sovereign rating.
Moody's would considering upgrading the BCA of ca if DBM improves its capitalization and liquidity position after it repays the $580 million debt due in March 2017, while demonstrating stable asset quality over the next 4-6 quarters.
What Could Change the Rating - Down:
Factors that could result in a downgrade include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) A downgrade of Mongolia's sovereign rating; or
(2) A large increase in the losses incurred from its policy function, without a corresponding increase in its capital.
November 21 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 151 billion at a weighted interest rate of 15.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Ulaanbaatar, November 21 (MONTSAME) The Socio-Economic Survey on Households for the third quarter of 2016 showed average monthly household monetary income was MNT 853.3 thousand, which represent a decrease by MNT 84.4 thousand (9.0%) compared to the same period of the previous year.
It was mainly driven by falls in wages and salaries by MNT 28.0 thousand (5.5%), and income from agricultural production and services MNT 37.7 thousand (37.6%)
For the third quarter of 2016, average monthly household expenditure was indicated at MNT 926.2 thousand, which decreased by MNT 10.4 thousand (1.1%) compared to the same period of the previous year.
* Dollar eases from 14-year highs
* Copper last week recorded its first weekly fall in three (Adds official prices)
LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Copper led metals higher on Monday on expectations of improving appetite from top consumer China and higher demand from the U.S. market as the dollar pared recent gains.
Benchmark copper on the London Metals Exchange was bid up at $5,550 per tonne after failing to trade in official rings.
The metal used in construction and power last week recorded its first weekly fall in three when it dropped 2.3 percent.
Chinese investors whose rush into copper hauled it to 17-month highs this month say infrastructure spending and government reforms will keep the metal well supported for the rest of this year and into 2017.
Copper prices have lagged the rest of the metals complex this year despite market data showing a deficit and an uptick in demand from China, analysts said, but the price was now beginning to catch up with the fundamentals.
"The usage of copper has been better globally this year. So far as the latest data is available there hasn't been a big supply surplus," said Quantitative Commodity Research consultant Peter Fertig.
"All in all the outlook for copper demand has improved and that is justifying that prices are also coming up."
The dollar index fell 0.3 percent against a basket of major currencies after hitting its highest levels in almost 14 years on Friday. A weaker dollar boosts the buying power of those paying for commodities with other currencies.
A recent rise in metals has been tied to expectations of higher demand from the United States after Donald Trump's surprise win in the presidential election. Trump has vowed to ramp up infrastructure spending.
Marex Spectron said in a note that bullish sentiment from China and the United States permeated the London markets.
Investors raised their net-long position in COMEX copper futures and options in the week to Nov. 15 to a record for the second straight week, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.
Elsewhere on the LME, nickel was bid up 3.2 percent to $11,200 a tonne, while zinc was traded 1.6 percent higher in official rings at $2,577 per tonne. Lead was bid up 2 percent to $2,181.50.
Aluminium rose 1.2 percent to $1,714 and tin added 3.8 percent at $20,975, both trading in official rings.
Is the copper rally for real?: Investors may be 'buying the sizzle rather than the steak' – Financial Post, November 21
China investors up bets on copper as fundamental picture brightens – Reuters, November 21
COLUMN-Is the copper mine supply wave peaking? Andy Home – Reuters, November 21
November 21 (Environmental Leader) Businesses that transport their goods via the highways, railways or the airways are likely to see an expansion of the nation's infrastructure. That's good news not just for companies that want to move their products in the most efficient manner possible. It may also be good news for a sub-set of the coal sector that produces so-called metallurgical coal for steel-making.
In other words, the more the infrastructure gets propped up or expanded, the more steel will be required. And since met coal is used to make steel, those coal producers may see a bump in their businesses. Already, the benchmark price of met coal has risen from a low of $70 in 2016 to about $270 a ton. The reason for the rise in price is not so much because of greater demand. But it is because China curbed the supply for several months, which put upward pressure on prices.
"This is the best news that Appalachia as a whole has had in about 10 years," said Jason Bostic, a vice president at the West Virginia Coal Association, referring to Trump's infrastructure agenda, in a Reuters story. "Suddenly there's a little bit of hope here."
Politically speaking, the Democrats favor increased spending on infrastructure, calling it not just a job created but also an essential step to maintaining American competitiveness. Republicans, by contrast have said such projects increased the national deficit and are generally opposed.
At issue as well is from where the steel would be made and purchased. If it imported from China that has produced it from Australian coal, then it would not bode well for American mining companies. That said, some domestic companies are upbeat for the time in years.
"The thing that has got me the most excited is the potential for infrastructure spending," said George Dethlefsen, Corsa Coal Corp's chief executive, told Reuters. "All those things are very energy- and steel-intensive, and that's good for our business." It is planning to increase production by 70% in 2017.
To be clear, met coal, commonly referred to as coking coal, is different from steam or thermal coal that is used to create electricity. Coking coal has had the impurities burned out, making it cleaner and also hotter — an ideal fuel used to make steel. Thermal coal, by contrast, still has the impurities still in it when it is burned, thus making it a dirtier fuel. The demand for thermal or steam coal has dropped precipitously because of the newfound discoveries of shale gas, which burn cleaner and which is just as cheap.
The hope — if that is the right word — is now in met coal. The outlook for thermal coal remains bleak even though a Trump administration has vowed to withdraw from global climate talks and to throw out the Clean Power Plan. Both of those focus on reducing the use of fuels that are heavy in carbon content and want nations to shift to cleaner burning fuels.
"Absent a return to 2008-vintage gas prices it is hard to see how marginal coal-fired resources have been given much more than a few extra years of life at most," says Mark Repsher, an energy expert at PA Consulting Group.
"Interestingly, the new (Trump) administration's desire to loosen gas and oil drilling regulations could have the unintended consequence of further depressing gas prices absent significant offsetting economic growth – creating a further dagger in the prospects of coal-fired resources long-term," he adds.
American businesses will likely benefit from the infrastructure projects. It is less certain whether domestic coal developers will enjoy the same resurgence. But it does provide them hope.
November 21 (Reuters) Iron ore futures in China dropped nearly 2 percent on Monday as steel prices hit their weakest in almost three weeks, reflecting concern over slow demand as winter approaches.
Supply of the steelmaking raw material at China's ports climbed to the highest in over two years last week, exceeding 110 million tonnes or more than a month's worth of imports.
Chinese iron ore futures have fallen 16 percent from a 33-month peak as a rally earlier this month lost steam last week following a series of measures by China's exchanges to crack down on speculative trading in commodities including increased transaction fees.
Iron ore for January delivery on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed down 1.6 percent at 552.50 yuan ($80) a tonne. The contract hit 533 yuan earlier, its weakest in almost two weeks.
"The price has increased too fast and away from fundamentals so going down should be natural," said a Shanghai-based iron ore trader.
"Overall iron ore supply is still more than enough and the only issue was because of high coking coal prices, it created some short-term tightness in high-grade iron ore."
The surge in prices of coking coal, also used in steelmaking, had prompted Chinese mills to use better quality iron ore so they would use less of the fuel. But the ensuing retreat in coal prices had eased demand for high-grade iron ore, the trader said.
Stockpiles of imported iron ore at 46 Chinese ports reached 110.58 million tonnes on Friday, up 2.83 million tonnes from the previous week, according to data tracked by industry consultancy SteelHome.
That was the highest level since September 2014, and the inventory has risen 19 percent this year.
Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port fell 1 percent to $72.79 a tonne on Friday, according to data from Metal Bulletin. The spot benchmark lost 8.8 percent last week, ending a five-week rally.
China's iron ore supply may remain high as steel demand is bound to be weak during winter, that usually lasts between December and February, traders said.
The temperature is starting to drop in China's northern parts, the Shanghai trader said, although it remains warm enough in southern areas for steel-intensive construction projects to continue.
The price of rebar, a construction steel product, closed down 2.5 percent at 2,714 yuan a tonne on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, after touching 2,660 yuan earlier, its lowest since Nov. 3.
November 21 (MarketWatch) Gold prices bounced off the nine-month lows they ended at last week as the highflying dollar cooled a bit on Monday.
Gold futures slid Friday to their lowest finish since February. The yellow metal was undercut by dollar strength and growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will not only announce an interest-rate increase at its meeting in December but could also signal a quicker pace of rate hikes next year. This sentiment pulled prices for the metal down for a second consecutive week.
But early Monday, gold futures for December delivery GCZ6 rose $6.50, or 0.6%, to $1,215.60 an ounce. Gold settled at $1,208.70 Friday, ending about 1.3% lower for the week. The settlement was the lowest since mid-February, according to FactSet data.
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, -0.54% fell 0.4% after rising on Friday for a 10th straight day to hit 101.54, its highest since April 2003.
"Bets on a steeper Fed rate hike path after the U.S. presidential election have undermined demand for anti-fiat and non-interest-bearing assets," including gold, said Ilya Spivak, currency analyst with Daily FX. "A lull in top-tier news flow may allow for a corrective retracement in the week ahead, but prices will probably remain highly sensitive to headline risk as the [President-elect Donald] Trump cabinet takes shape."
Higher rates tend to dull demand for nonyielding gold while a richer dollar leaves gold priced in the U.S. currency less attractive to buyers using other currencies. Gold has largely slumped since Election Day and the surprise presidential election win for Donald Trump, after which investors turned, albeit cautiously, to riskier investments. The Dow industrials has climbed 2.9%, the S&P 500 has gained 2% and the Nasdaq has risen 2.5% since the election.
But expectations that a Trump administration could usher in greater infrastructure spending and demand for industrial metals had underpinned this corner of the market and it looked like that motivation was driving prices again to start this week.
December copper HGZ6 rose 5 cents, or 2.2%, to $2.52 a pound. Copper had shot higher in the immediate wake of the election but ended last week about 1.6% lower, while December silver SIZ6 gained 5 cents, or 0.3%, to $16.68 an ounce after a weekly loss of about 4.4%.
January platinum PLF7 rose $8.90, or 1%, to $930 an ounce, while December palladium PAZ6 slipped 80 cents, or 0.1%, to $727 an ounce.
"The euphoria over increased demand for metals in the U.S. following Donald Trump's election victory appears to have returned, though we regard this as premature," said Carsten Fritsch and his commodities analysis team at Commerzbank, in a note. "After all, it is not clear how many of his election promises Trump will actually be able to implement."
The Commerzbank analysts said cooler real-estate prices in China in October could weigh on the economy, cutting demand for industrial metals there.
The CFTC's statistics show that the rise in metals prices, and above all in the copper price, after the U.S. elections was driven to a major extent by speculators: net long positions on Comex in New York were expanded by 19% to a new record high of 70,600 contracts in the week to November 15, the Commerzbank analysts added.
Within exchange-traded funds, the SPDR Gold Trust GLD was up 0.7%, while the iShares Silver Trust SLV gained 0.6%. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF GDX traded 1.6% higher.
November 21 (Reuters) Oil prices rose 3 percent on Monday to their highest in three weeks, catching a lift from a weaker dollar, as OPEC appeared to be moving closer to agreeing an output cut when it meets next week.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 gained $1.44 to $48.30 a barrel by 1423 GMT, having touched their loftiest level since Nov. 1, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures CLc1 strengthened by $2.01 to $47.70 a barrel.
Brent has risen 11 percent in a week since OPEC's de facto leader Saudi Arabia started a diplomatic charm offensive to persuade the group's more reluctant members to join its proposed output cut.
The dollar eased off last week's 13-1/2-year highs as Treasury yields nudged lower, bolstering oil and the broader commodities complex including copper CMCU3 and gold XAU=.
"The possibility for such a deal has increased, but there is also the risk of course that the market is overreacting here, especially as the agreement will really have to be a surprise to push oil prices very much higher," ABN Amro chief energy economist Hans van Cleef said.
"The most important part is that (OPEC) will need to stick to the deal, but it's also the most difficult."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he saw no obstacle to non-OPEC member Russia agreeing to freeze oil output, which at more than 11 million barrels per day is at a post-Soviet high.
Meanwhile, OPEC members last week proposed a deal for Iran to cap, rather than cut, output.
Iran has been one of the main hurdles facing any output curtailment by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, as Tehran wants exemptions to try to recapture market share lost under years of Western sanctions.
Libya and Nigeria, whose exports have been hampered by violence, have also asked to be left out of any deal.
Barclays analysts said some form of deal was likely, but warned an agreement could have little impact.
"We expect OPEC to agree to a face-saving statement ... (but) U.S. tight oil producers can grow production at $50-$55 (per barrel) and will capitalize on any opportunity afforded to them by an OPEC cut," the bank said.
Hedge funds raised their net holdings of U.S. crude futures and options for the first time in three weeks in the week to Nov. 15, having delivered one of the largest cuts on record the previous week. The move highlights the nervousness among investors about betting heavily on oil in either direction.
November 21 (news.mn) Mongolian prosecutors transferred the case of S.Zorig's murder to the Primary Court of Ulaanbaatar's Sukhbaatar District earlier this month. S.Zorig, one of the heroes of the country's peaceful transition to democracy was brutally murdered on October 2nd 1998.
According to an official source, M.Aldar judge of the Primary Court of Ulaanbaatar's Sukhbaatar District appointed to the case. Three possible suspects, namely T.Chimgee, B.Sodnomdarjaa and Ts.Amgalanbaatar, all from Orkhon province, have been in detention since 2015.
Zorig's wife B.Bulgan was released from prison on 9th September after having been held incommunicado since November 2015. The basis for her detention was allegedly connected with her presentation of false evidence in the initial hearings.
November 20 (UB Post) During Parliament's Friday session, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat held a briefing about harvest completion and preparation for the winter challenges facing herders.
Premier J.Erdenebat pointed out that, as of October, economic growth in the agricultural sector was 2.8 percent higher than it was in 2015, despite international and domestic trade and manufacturing having faced economic decline. The Prime Minister told MPs that the government is executing a policy to support cost-effective manufacturing of animal and agricultural products. He stressed that 475,800 tons of crops were harvested this year.
Prime Minister J.Erdenebat said, "The Government of Mongolia implemented projects, programs, and campaigns to promote crops, and as a result, Mongolia's farmers harvested the highest recorded amount of ripe crops from their fields in the past 25 years in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
He added that flour mills received 258,300 tons of wheat, the Crop Production Promotion Fund collected 64,900 tons of wheat to make flour, and the government will work to promote farmers in spring. There are 153,100 herders with 60.8 million livestock, and 16,500 of them have moved to different camps with 6.9 million livestock to look for better pasture conditions.
MP D.Erdenebat addressed Parliament about the Democratic Party's position on Prime Minister J.Erdenebat's briefing. MP D.Erdenebat asked the Prime Minister to implement a policy that brings prices for Mongolian livestock and agricultural products to global price standards, and to improve their competitiveness to meet international standards
He noted that this can be achieved by harnessing cohesion between the agriculture and manufacturing industries, a policy that was approved in 2015, and asked the PM to respond about implementation of the policy. D.Erdenebat said that herders and farmers don't understand legislation on meat export and crops, so changes should be made to these laws.
The Prime Minister said that the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry is discussing meat export with Chinese authorities, and the sides have agreed to export meat from Mongolia to China through two checkpoints. PM J.Erdenebat pointed out that the government is pursuing policy to provide herders and farmers with soft loans, and that increasing their revenue has brought about good outcomes. He said that he agreed with D.Erdenebat's proposal to make legislative changes.
November 21 (UB Post) The following interview touches on the economic situation of Mongolia and the impact of the MNT exchange rate depreciation with former Prime Minister D.Byambasuren.
Mongolia is facing an economic meltdown. The value of MNT continues to fall by the day and the Mongol Bank was just able to stabilize the exchange rate for the past few days by injecting large amount of USD into the market. Was this the correct course of action?
It's clear to everyone that the economy is in an extremely difficult shape in general. The state budget has been approved with the most deficit it has ever had in history. The USD reserve has been at its lowest in the last 10 years. From objective assessment of the economic growth, we can conclude that growth has been completely stopped. This is the result of running a nation in the wrong policy for many years. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that rather than a crisis or economic fall, the nation is on the brink of bankruptcy. The exchange rate of USD to MNT is increasing rapidly. Mongol Bank released large amounts of USD following the government order to take immediate action. The situation might have stabilized for now but USD reserves will not last a month at this rate.
On top of that, the national debt has expanded considerably and the state budget deficit amount has reached its peak. Politicians don't seem to understand that Mongolia will not be able to escape from these two traps. The public wasn't informed of the real situation during election campaigns. Instead, empty lies were spread, saying that everything was good. The public can see and feel the real situation but they continue to trust promises made by the ruling party. Now that the economy is in a crisis, it will not be easy to recover. The most important step is to tell the truth about the current situation to the public. The only ones who can resolve Mongolia's economic issues and change the economic outlook is us, Mongolians. Everyone should know that a stranger wouldn't willingly help others. Ways to overcome this situation should be discussed at the national level. Intervening in the market and seeking loans from other countries will only worsen Mongolia's situation and increase its debt. Unfortunately, neither the government nor Parliament are able to objectively handle the situation at the moment.
Since 2008, Mongolians have experienced many stages of economic difficulty. All we've considered were loans and bonds as the only solutions to improving the economy instead of finding a better option. We've yet to develop a more accurate policy. From looking at the process, people handling state affairs seem to be continuing to do things in the old way. It's been long past the time we start talking about accountability of members of Parliament and government. It will not be easy to raise other issues without handling this matter.
There hasn't been improvement in the economy. Will the economy grow?
Generating substantial economic growth is really hard. People say the price of copper, coal and gold is rising. Although this could bring a little bit of hope, it isn't a substantial leverage for economic growth. Unless foreign currency reserves are increased, we will continue to see negative consequences.
With all the economic talk, people are curious about Mongolia's extravagant expenditure. According to research, 60 percent of Mongolia's imports are petroleum. Increase in USD vs MNT exchange rate hiked fuel prices. This sector is huge and affects everybody. Many people are questioning why Mongolia can't build an oil refinery. What's your opinion on this?
We've talked about this for many years. Countless candidates promised to build an oil refinery during election campaigns since 2008. The public believed them and expected their lives to improve when an oil refinery was finally built. However, it wasn't helpful at all. Mongolia used to have an oil refinery.
Zuunbayan oil refinery was commissioned in December 1950 and produced 209.4 tons of petroleum in that year. During its peak year, the refinery produced 150,000 tons of petroleum. Unfortunately, the top part of the evaporator of the cracker facility broke and caused a fire on November 8, 1969. The amount of petroleum produced back then was very efficient but the refinery was closed.
The first President of Mongolia stated that the Mongolian government would build an oil refinery seven years later in 1996 when he soaked his cashmere deel in the oil drilled from Dornod Province. Yet, oil refinery is nonexistent in Mongolia today. The public has the right to know the truth. In 1993, the government ruled by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (now the Mongolian People's Party) signed an agreement with the USA, stating that Mongolia will not refine locally drilled oil.
Why hasn't this been announced to the public?
When I broached the people who were in charge back then, they replied that they were told to do it that way and followed the order. The American side transferred the contract to Chinese people and left. The Mongolian side, on the other hand, was left unable to change that agreement.
It's become impossible to establish an oil refinery in Dornod Province in terms of the legal environment because it's now somebody else's property. The main reason for this is that the government doesn't consider the nation's interests as first priority. They respect foreigners' interests and suck up to them. Another big reason is that people managing state affairs aren't actually interested in building an oil refinery.
How would establishing an oil refinery impact the economy?
It is absolutely beneficial. Mongolia could keep the 400 million USD that is scattered to foreign countries every year if we build an oil refinery. Putting this amount of money into economic circulation could make it possible to maintain the balance of foreign trade. It will influence positively on the lives of three million people living in Mongolia and boost the economy. With a refinery, we will not have to be anxious because of fluctuating exchange rates. Mongolia's territory stretches over 3,000 km from east to west so it will be quite challenging to transport locally produced petroleum to every part of the country. As long as there's a base and area for an oil refinery, it's possible to build a small oil refinery and fully supply that particular region. There needs to be a realistic estimate and calculation that determines which areas could be locally supplied and how many additional suppliers it needs. One person claimed that building an oil refinery is inefficient for Mongolia unless two million tons of oil is drilled locally every year. Yet, there are quite a lot of successful oil refineries around the world that manage 100,000 tons of oil a year.
Is it true that establishing an oil refinery would open up opportunities to build many different kinds of factories?
Even if it seems like an unimaginable and almost dream-like thing, it's possible to build an oil refinery. During my time as the Prime Minister, Mongolia was put in a difficult situation in relation to fuel. Back then, a study was conducted and a group of people were sent to the USA to do a presentation on the oil refinery project. It was believed at the time that it was possible to construct an oil refinery capable of producing 100,000 tons of petroleum a year within two months. Many feasible projects were developed in the late 1990s but they didn't see the light after the government changed.
Both locals and foreigners know that Mongolia is in financial difficulties. Do you see a solution for recovering the economy?
It's very hard to hear this kind of news about my own country. I never imagined Mongolia to come to the brink of bankruptcy. This situation is the result of irresponsible work of the two main political parties. They don't have a specific strategy. The only way to fix this situation is to remove politicians who use their power for their own or group interests. Mongolia will not develop as long as we continue to have corrupt politicians. There's almost no good news nowadays. Authorities lack the heart and will to work for the nation's interest and make wise decisions. Mongolia urgently needs a general policy consistent to Mongolia's geological features, people's mentality, tradition and customs. Only us, Mongolians, can protect our future and interests and develop the nation.
By B. Tuvshin (Economist)
November 21 (Mongolian Economy) Mongolia has been trying to reduce economic centralisation since the transition to democracy and a free market economy. Local self-governing bodies, authorities and territorial units were established by the 1992 Constitution. However, we have not seen big strides toward the goal of decentralisation despite more than two decade having gone by.
In the meantime, rural-to-urban migration is perpetually increasing as people seek more opportunities due to the increasing gap between urban and rural development. Almost half of the population is concentrated in Ulaanbaatar, which takes up 0.3 percent of the total land area of Mongolia. As the population of the capital increases, so does the urgency with which we need to resolve infrastructure and public service issues, but we all know that the development of the capital as well as rural areas has been noticeably slow. How did it reach such a state?
Everything is related to money. Power and responsibility are not exercised simply by adopting laws. These things depend on aspects such as where to allocate money, how to spend it and how to oversee it. In other words, rural areas will be able to develop only with the right to plan and manage their own budgets. This goes not just for rural areas, but also provinces and soums as well the capital city and its districts. Now let's look at the results of the past few years.
Local budget expenditures used to account for 30 percent of the state budget, but it fell to 10 percent from 2003 to 2011. The ability of local administrations to spend has fallen sharply as the authority for budget spending was re-transferred to the relevant ministries. Then in December 2011, Mongolia adopted a new budget law. More financial and budget authority was given to local administrations under this law which went into in 2013 and was a big step towards improved decentralisation. However, the self-sufficiency of local budgets is still weak because a centralised fiscal policy currently adhered to.
It would not be a lie to say that Mongolia is maintaining the tradition of a centrally planned economy, because it still employs a system where the higher-ups try to resolve everything related to the budget. Parliament approves the medium-term budget statement, and the Citizens' Representative Council of provinces, the capital, districts and soums discuss within that scope to approve the budget.
Their only responsibility is to rubber stamp what is given. They do not plan the budget by themselves and focus just on allocation. Specifically, parliament is supposed to approve a draft budget within November 15 of each year in accordance with the Law on Budget. As for the provincial and municipal Citizens' Representative Councils, they must approve the budget within December 5, and districts and soum councils must approve it within December 20 of each year. Although local authorities submit their budget proposals, it is no secret that it gets slashed from the above. Hence, there is no such thing as an independent local budget in Mongolia. Soum and district budgets are dependent on the province and the capital city budgets, respectively, and the provinces and the capital are dependent on the state budget.
Instilling a spoon-fed mentality
Local budget revenues have several sources: self-funding and tax sharing and transferring between budgets. However, the important tax sources are allocated to the state budget while less important ones are allocated to local budgets. Provinces, the capital, soums and districts have no right to levy new taxes, so their ability to generate revenue is limited. A local administration's financial privilege is low due to its own small amount of revenue. Therefore, they are dependent on financial assistance from the state budget. In 2017, MNT 130 billion in financial support is planned to be provided to the budgets of 15 provinces from the state budget in order to offset deficits in local budgets. As for this year, it is expected to provide MNT 150 billion. Does the financial support have positive outcomes?
Personally, I think that the current system that mends deficits in local budgets under the name of "financial support" instils a spoon-fed mind-set in the heads of the local governors. They have no need to brainstorm and come up with ideas to expand income sources and keep expenditures efficient as long as deficits get plugged from the state budget.
At the same time, the Ministry of Finance transfers an excessive amount of revenue to the state budget from the approved local budgets through tax sharing and reduction of transaction incomes. It is easy to understand why the local authorities have a sluggish approach to budget management, as the authorities above will draw from it even if there were additional income. Due to such reasons, local authorities just spend the given amount of money instead of planning the budget or doing management.
Can local administrations be self-sufficient?
Seeing from international experience, local administrations have quite a bit of power when it comes to their budgets. It is clear that only by doing so, more efficient budgets will be developed. For example, who knows best about the lives of residents of Durvuljin soum in Zavkhan Province? What is needed to improve livelihood and public services, and how should the revenue sources be expanded? Is it the Ministry of Finance or the residents of Durvuljin soum?
Local residents know about their situation and needs better than anyone, so it only makes sense that more efficient management can be implemented if they themselves oversee budget matters. Our scholars and researchers know this very well, which is why they have been recommending decentralisation for many years.
It should be noted that progress has been made within the goal to decentralise. It is commendable that more financial and fiscal rights were given to local administrations in 2011 within the framework of the Law on Budget. Before that, the central government was responsible for local investment, and local authorities were responsible only for overhead, maintenance and other operating costs. With the implementation of the above-mentioned law, a certain part of the investment costs was transferred to local administrations. A transfer system based on a formula to strengthen local governance was introduced through the local development fund. Moreover, mandating residents' participation through the planning of the local development fund was a major piece of progress.
Unfortunately, parliament has blurred this success by making amendments to the Law on Budget in September. Specifically, they decreased the integrated regional development fund's sources. For instance, 10 percent of the VAT on domestic goods used to be allocated to the fund, but this has now been reduced to five percent. Likewise, the 30 percent of the income from mineral royalty fees that used to be allocated to the fund is now 10 percent. In addition, the revenue allocated to the fund from provinces with primary balance surpluses is now going to be allocated to the state budget. In a nutshell, the nation is moving backwards on the issue of decentralisation.
The authorities say that in this current economic and fiscal climate, there is no other way given the state budget deficit. Contrarily, increasing local administrations' autonomy should have a positive impact on economic growth. This has been the experience of other countries. Give the money to local administrations. Power and responsibility will transfer along with the money. After that, the local authorities will start to use their brains regarding how to keep expenditures efficient and save costs without asking from higher-ups. Only then will they shed themselves of the spoon-fed mentality and become independent.
November 21 (gogo.mn) Mongolia makes up 11 percent of China's coal import. Coal price has doubled compared to the same period of the previous year to reach USD 103.7 per ton.
As of September this year, Mongolia made up 11 percent of the total coal import of China, Mongolia's main coal consumer.
Mongolia's coal export reached its peak in 2011, having constituted 47 percent of the country's annual export.
The economy grew by record 17.3 percent that year. In 2011, Mongolia supplied 26 percent of China's coal import.
Ulaanbaatar, November 21 /MONTSAME/ Mongolia has come to be the sixth largest gold producer in the continent, preceded by the top producer China, and Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Phillipines. Mongolia produced 31.3 tons in 2015.
China became the top producer of gold in the world in 2012. Its gold production increased from 397 tons in 2013 to 409 tons in 2014.
According to the survey by GFMS of Thomson Reuters, China produced 485.1 metric tons of gold last year, which represented an increase of 14 percent against the previous year.
Indonesia ranked at second place, having produced 134.3 tons of gold. The country is home to one of the biggest gold mines of the world – Grasberg, which makes majority of gold production.
At the third place comes Central Asian country, Uzbekistan. The country in 2015 produced 83.2 metric tons of the gold. Gold production plays an important role in Uzbekistan economy. In Uzbekistan gold is mostly found in the Kyzylkum Desert where Muruntau Gold Deposit, the largest single open-pit gold mine, is located.
Kazakhstan with 47.5 metric tons of production and Philippines with 46.8 metric tons at fourth and fifth places respectively, according to the survey.
Despite India being the world's biggest buyer of gold, its contribution to world gold production is an insignificant 0.5 per cent.
The survey says global mine production increased by just 1 per cent in 2015, reaching 3,158 tones, with gains in countries like Indonesia and the United States overweighing the losses elsewhere, particularly in China.
This represents seventh successive year of increasing mine supply, and is another year of record global output.
November 21 (news.mn) Some districts of Khovd province, the most westerly in Mongolia, are covered by 25-35 cm of snow caused by the 'zud' which hit the region this November. A 'zud' is when the weather is so harsh, that animals either starve to death when the thick, icy snow buries the grass or simply freeze because of the cold. November, isn't normally the coldest winter month in Mongolia; many herders fear what is to follow!
Because of 3-4 day's heavy snowfall, coal transport by road through the 'Barlag' mountain pass to China had been interrupted. Eleven workers from the 'Altain zam' company have brought in special equipment and cleared the road.
A 'zud' alert has been made for 18 soums (districs) in eight provinces. The Research Institute for Hydrology and Meteorology of Mongolia has reported that temperatures have fallen as low as -47C recent days.
November 21 (news.mn) Italy is biggest export market of Mongolian combed cashmere followed by the UK and China. During the first nine months of 2016, no less than 74% of the total volume of 389.4 tonnes of Mongolian combed cashmere was exported to Italy. The value of combed cashmere production for 2016 was USD 26 million, which is down on last year.
Since the Economic Partnership Agreement concluded with Tokyo in July, Mongolian combed cashmere exports to Japan have increased by 3.8%. Japan took 1.1% of total Mongolian combed cashmere exports in the first three quarters of 2016. Under the agreement, the taxes and tariffs on Mongolian combed cashmere tax have been cut by 100%.
Mongolia also exports washed cashmere to Italy, the UK and China, but only the fully processed product to Japan.
Mongolia is one of the world's largest producers of cashmere. The quality of Mongolian cashmere is excellent, and its price is very competitive compared to that of other producing countries. Mongolia may be far away from the luxury fabric's main consumers, such as the wealthy of Milan and Paris, but the world's fashion industry is becoming increasingly interested in the wool of our goats.
Mogi: who issues Mongolian visas?
Ulaanbaatar, November 21 (MONTSAME) In connection with the ongoing visit of the spiritual leader 14th Dalai Lama, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil has given a statement. "The Government of Mongolia has nothing to do with the visit", he stated.
Also, he emphasized that the ninth visit of the Dalai Lama to Mongolia is taking place at the invitation of the Center of Mongolian Buddhists – The Gandantegchinlen Monastery, and is a absolutely religious courtesy.
November 21 (The Dialogue) Of late, the importance of studying Buddhism in the foreign policy context has opened up new perspectives on Inner Asia. This is especially prevalent in Mongolia, a landlocked country of geo-strategic importance due to its location between China and Russia. The issue is all the more important because the quests of the Mongolian government, officialdom and the national ideologues for the "purity of tradition" seem to have been found in "national religion", i.e., Buddhism. Moreover, despite the fact that there is no state religion in Mongolia, the Law on Religion and State asserts that "The government shall grant proper respect to Buddhism as the predominant religion of the country for the sake of national unity and the maintenance of cultural and historic traditions." No wonder then that the political role of Buddhism is often linked to foreign policy.
The foreign policy of a State cannot afford to ignore the civilisational ethos which informs society and binds it with the decision-making process and structure of that state. Evidently, in some states, civilisational ethos in the form of religion occupies a less pivotal role in the arena of foreign policy implementation. The post-Cold War period has been witnessing a revival of interest in the Buddhist tradition in not only the whole of Asia but also countries beyond its boundaries. In Asia or more precisely in Inner Asia, Buddhism is increasingly being projected as a dominant cultural discourse with an enormous aesthetic appeal that transcends borders and politics.
As a faith, Buddhism certainly has been successful in its propagation not only in the religion and cultural domain but also the political space of a "particular" country like Mongolia in very many ways, directly or indirectly, that indeed points to understanding how Buddhism has involved diplomacy in matters of contemporary international relations. At this juncture, what is important to be noted is that although in most countries church and state are separated, the latter seems to always have an urge to employ the faith for its political purpose and Mongolia again is not an exception. The world to remain in peace entails coordinated efforts to resolve disputes or tension which further need to have bilateral and multilateral cooperation among both the nations as well as individuals. In this context, the soft power of Buddhism is purposeful to lessening disputes or tension related to a territorial sensibility that could restore a peaceful relationship among nations through an atmosphere of humanity and reverence.
In the case of India, it has a long tradition of having historical and cultural ties based on Buddhism with numerous countries. One such example is Mongolia, with which India has a rich legacy of Buddhist linkages that helped the two countries to develop very close and friendly relations in modern times so much so that they are now known as "spiritual" neighbours. Last year's visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Mongolia has been part of this shared religious heritage with neighbours at the centre of his regional engagement. Mongolia, indeed, offers many possibilities for Prime Minister Modi's cultural (Buddhist) diplomacy. Hence, Buddhism, today, remains at the very forefront of India's new Asian outreach, both culturally as well as politically.
The two examples of China and India using Buddhism as a soft power tool in international relations provide much scope for Mongolia as well. Evidently, Buddhism in the past played a significant role in Mongolia's foreign policy by linking Mongolia with the communist and the non-communist states of East and Southeast Asia. In the post-Soviet period, following the breakdown of barriers to religious practices and restoration of Buddhism, Mongolia began strengthening its ties with other Buddhist societies. Today freedom of thought and expression, democratic governance, tolerance, peaceful resolution of disputes, and all round economic development with distributive justice remain the fundamental principles of Mongolia's foreign policy. Hence, given that the last decade has seen a breakthrough in attitudes to the importance of religion in diplomacy, in Mongolia's case Buddhism, it can be considered as a part of the solution to the problem.
Today Buddhism is thriving in Inner Asia and, in particular, Mongolia. The political role of Buddhism takes its precedence in guiding the society both at home and abroad through engagements with foreign partners and institutions. Yet, there is a need to understand that it is not the nations that own Buddhism but it is Buddhism that owns nations. In the case of Mongolia too, there exists a Buddhist version of nomadic lives, and hence the role of Buddhism as a soft power. It, however, remains to be seen how far Mongolia's Buddhist diplomacy has succeeded in giving a definite push to its bilateral and multilateral relations, especially in the Asian context.
Prof. Soni is Director, UGC-Area Studies Programme, Centre for Inner Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Ulaanbaatar, November 21 (MONTSAME) In conjunction with the UN release of a resolution over human rights in North Korea, the Ambassador of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Hong Kyu made a statement on November 18.
The resolution discussed at the Third Committee of the 71st session of UNGA meeting expressed concerns about exploitation of North Korean work forces.
The statement made by the DPRK Ambassador says "Our workers are working in foreign countries only guided by their free will and demands. They have full right to decide whether to return back home or not. Presently, about 2,500 North Korean nationals are employed in the construction, light industry and healthcare sectors of Mongolia in compliance with an agreement on exchange of work forces and specialists concluded between Mongolia and DPRK. Providing them with favorable conditions to work and live is a priority provision of contract made between corresponding companies in strict compliance with the pertinent legislation and regulations of the given country. The North Korean workers working in Mongolia all have official visas and permissions and officially pay social insurance fees and income taxes in accordance with the Mongolian legislation".
Ulaanbaatar, November 21 (MONTSAME) The Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme on Development of Communication (IPDC) by the UNESCO selected Mongolia to be its Vice Chair for 2013-2017. The council consist of representatives from 39 countries.
Mongolia is being represented by Mongolia's committee chairman Kh.Naranjargal.
The IPDC aims at promoting the development of mass media in developing countries, and have carried out some 1,500 projects totaling USD 100 million in more than 140 countries.
November 21 (Mongolian Economy) On November 17, a team involved in the UK government's GREAT Britain campaign held a conference introducing its operations in Mongolia. The conference also featured a special lecture on international promotion.
Advertising and marketing play an important role for organisations in expanding their operations. Likewise, countries also need to advertise in order to promote themselves and increase their international reputation. The economy as well as the culture and education sector can gain an advantage if a country can manage to create the right image and advertise it globally. In the case of the UK, they launched the GREAT Britain campaign in 2011 in order to advertise itself globally and share experience with other countries. Currently, the campaign is carrying out activities in more than 160 countries around the world. During the conference, the campaign team informed that they will focus on attracting more foreign investors, tourists and foreign students.
"This programme was launched in 2011. The purpose of the programme is aimed at developing economies and creating jobs. Currently, the implementation of the programme brought a profit of GBP 4.4 billion into UK. Mongolia's reputation has fallen within the international business community. In order to remedy this situation, it is important for the government to have a united organisation. In addition, it is necessary to create an image of a reliable country and give that message to other countries," said Conrad Bird, Director of GREAT Britain campaign.
Country promotion was the main theme of the conference. In recent years, more young people are graduating overseas, and this trend is expected to continue. Conrad Bird said that the cheapest way to advertise the country internationally is to utilise those young people studying abroad.
"Mongolia has been cooperating with the University of Cambridge for many years. The university has a Mongolian studies department. It would be effective to establish Mongolian studies departments at foreign universities in the future. In addition, attracting foreign students studying Mongolian studies into Mongolia and involving them in study programmes should bring good results. As for Mongolian students studying abroad, we need to instil a patriotic mind-set in them and provide them with more information," said B.Batsaikhan, a specialist in the Department of Professional Education at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, about the measures being implemented in the education sector in this regard.
What can we expect from GREAT Britain campaign in Mongolia? "It is possible to increase the number of tourists coming to Mongolia by 2-3 times with the successful implementation of the programme. Of course, foreign investment will increase. In addition, it will give a significant boost to Mongolian exporters in taking their brands onto international markets," said Conrad Baird.
The UK implemented this successful programme six years ago when the country was facing an economic crisis. Mongolia can learn from this experience and focus on effective promotional activities in order to attract financing and investment in its economy. Hence, organisations such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Education, Culture and Science; the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and the Mongolian National Marketing Association cooperated in organising this event and invited experienced representatives from various sectors.
November 21 (gogo.mn) On Thursday 17 November 2016, Ambassador John Langtry awarded grants to ten organisations selected under the Direct Aid Program (DAP). Each project (see attached list) will contribute towards the development of Mongolia and be implemented in areas including youth development, women empowerment, environment, public health, poverty reduction, agriculture, and improving governance. The organizations will mainstream disability inclusiveness and gender across the grants to ensure the benefits of grants outreach equally to people with disability and men and women.
Since 2003, over 100 Mongolian NGOs and organisations have implemented a total of 114 projects. A total of 120 applications were received for the 2016-2017 DAP grants.
"DAP is a good opportunity for Mongolian organisations particularly civic and non- profits to address social and environmental issues. Demand for this competitive grant is getting higher as the number of organisations applying for has been increasing. I congratulate the organisations who won the grant for 2016-2017 and I am sure that they would do a great job. In the meantime, I thank all the organisations which participated and urge them to apply for the next round of DAP in June 2017," said Ambassador John Langtry.
Tsenguun Tumurkhuyag, Program Manager for Mongol Ecology Centre said "We are happy to receive the Australian Government funding to implement our Junior Ranger Program. 200 students in 4-7th grades from Hatgal and Khankh secondary school will learn to protect Mongolia's environment and learn natural history of Hovsgol area, its geological features, biological diversity, hydrologic cycle, forestry, soil composition and climate change impacts."
DAP is a flexible small grants program funded from Australia's aid budget. DAP funding is designed to advance developmental outcomes with projects primarily focused on practical and tangible results. This may include projects which support good governance, human rights and those with a strong advocacy component.
1. Establishing a Classroom for Orientation in Surroundings at School #116 for Visually Impaired and Blind Children
Around 8,000 Mongolians are either blind or visually impaired. They are unemployed and poor. School #116 is the only school in Mongolia for the visually impaired and the blind. With DAP funding, School # 116 will establish a special classroom on Orientation and Surroundings with the aim to develop the skills of the students. Direct beneficiaries of the project will be 120 current students as well as their parents and future students.
2. Expanding Paper Craft Production Using Waste Newspapers
In 2005, a group of Mongolians with mobility disability got together, to form the Mongolian National Association for Wheelchair Users (MNAWU). Today, the MNAWU serves over 700 members, a half of whom are women. The Women's Department of the Mongolian National Association for Wheelchair Users wants to ensure equal participation in employment for women with a mobility disability and women whose child with disability. The project will establish a business cooperation overseeing a production and sales structure, and train 50 women to produce and sell souvenirs on a regular basis and increase their family income in a more sustainable way.
3. Human Papilloma Virus in Mongolia
One of the most challenging public health issues facing women in Mongolia, irrespective of age, education and wealth, is cervical cancer. At least 300 new cases are diagnosed each year and 85% are at the late stage. Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common malignancy among women in Mongolia. Mongolia implemented a pilot project in 2012 and vaccinated 9,111 girls aged between 11 and 15. However, the program was unsuccessful in the face of anti-vaccination lobby groups.
The Cancer Council of Mongolia will conduct a study among 19 to 20 year old women in Selenge and Umnugobi provinces. Their research will evaluate particular types of HPV (16, 18 and 45) among 500 vaccinated and 500 unvaccinated young women. Moreover, other types of HPVs (31, 33, 35, 39, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66 and 58) will be assessed. The findings will be important evidence to inform and design a nationwide vaccination program.
4. Enhancing the Capacity of Mongolian Scouts to Support Youth
The Scout Association of Mongolia in collaboration with Scouts Australia will establish a national campground on its recently secured land, which is 85km north of UB. As a result, 6-25 years old Mongolians, volunteers and leaders will be able to benefit from this open-air activities shelter. Asian regional Scout Jamborees will be held in Mongolia in 2017.
5. Engage Future Stewards of Conservation by Developing a Junior Ranger Program in Gateway Communities of Lake Hovsgol National Park
In 2014-2015, some 45,000 international and domestic travelers visited Lake Hovsgol, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mongolia. The tourism season is short and lasts for only two months; the majority of locals in Hankh and Hatgal soums try to benefit from the influx of tourists by engaging in a variety of tourism services, ranging from setting up ger camps to working as drivers and tour guides and selling crafts.
The Mongol Ecology Center was established in 2010 with a goal to transfer best practices to preserve environment and natural resources and cultural heritage of Mongolia. They proposed to implement a Junior Ranger Program in Hovsgol province. 200 students in 4-7th grades from Hatgal and Hankh secondary schools will learn to protect Mongolia's environment and learn about the natural history of the Hovsgol area, its geological features, biological diversity, hydrologic cycle, forestry, soil composition and climate change impacts.
6. Partners for Protection Network
According to the National Statistics Office, 764 crimes involving domestic violence were recorded in the first half of 2016, demonstrating an increase of 178 cases or 34% from the previous year. In a sparsely populated country of 3 million, over 90 victims have lost their lives between 2011 and 2015 due to domestic violence. Half of these victims had referrals to justice and public service providers, although protection services were not available. Systematic and technical problems exist in health care, police and judicial sectors. The National Centre against Violence (NCAV) has 22 years of experience and inclusive child protection and social works services have been provided to a total of 19,700 clients, including psychological counselling, legal assistance, advocacy and protection. Under DAP funding, the NCAV aims to enable a timely protection services framework for support of survivors through strengthening capacity building of and fostering supportive partnership and cooperation amongst government, multi-disciplinary officers and specialists who provide services to domestic violence victims.
7. Hope for the Future
Mongolia's rural population of around 1.4 million is closely linked with semi- nomadic livestock herding and limited livelihood opportunities exist outside of this sector (UNDP, 2007). Livestock herding is becoming increasingly tenuous and risky due to a combination of small herd sizes, high overall livestock numbers resulting in overgrazing, loss of seasonal movement patterns, increased numbers of unskilled herders, and increased frequency of severe winters (dzud). Through its activity, Family Agricultural Resources Mongolia (FARM) will work with severely affected dzud area like Arvaikheer soum of Uvurkhangai Province. The activity will be implemented for one year with a goal to provide a sustainable livelihood of vegetable production that improves food security, gardening education and knowledge for 25 vulnerable women headed households in rural Mongolia.
8. Providing Rights of Well-being and Playing Basketball with Local Youths
Herlen and Bayan-Adarga soums in Hentii province have high poverty rate and have no sport clubs or designate facilities for youth development. The Trainer of Basketball B (TOBB), a local NGO proposes to build a basketball open court and provide training clothing for 30 children (15 girls and 15 boys) from poor families in basketball. This will help the youth to become self-confident and lead a healthy life- style. Local governments of both soums, Och Manlai LLC and Durvun-Uliral Hentii LLC will also provide in-kind and financial support for the project.
9. "Green Way" Waste and Recycling Education Centre
Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ulaanbaatar, the Rotary Club of Khangarid will address municipal waste management issues by offering training on waste management and recycling to teachers at the Mongolian National University of Education and students at the Secondary School #9. Keep South Australia Beautiful (KESAB), South Australia's not-for-profit organisation that delivers world-class environmental sustainability education program, will provide an engaging and interactive platform to the project beneficiaries. Selected classrooms will be at both schools will be redesigned as "Waste and Recycling Centre/Hub."
10. Improving Public Services through "Check My Service" Mobile Application
Public services are an integral part of our lives. Governments throughout the world have been increasingly paying attention to improving the services for which they are responsible. The goal of "CheckMyService" is to create a mobile application that facilitates direct communication on service issues between citizens and the administration of Ulaanbaatar city. This application encourages citizens to report issues in their neighbourhood, share and discuss problems, and monitor the authorities' reactions. According to the report of the Information Communications Technology Agency (2014) 45% of UB habitants were online every day and more than half of the UB population used internet at least once a week.
The Democracy Education Centre (DEMO) was established in 2002. In 2012, DEMO launched the Check My Service initiative and assessed the transparency and accountability of 84 public services by service recipients through a Community Score Card tool. Their past work was recognised with an Integrity Award by the Anti- Corruption Agency of Mongolia (2013) as well as selected as one of the best innovations in Asia and Pacific region by the Open Government Partnership in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
Ulaanbaatar, November 21 (MONTSAME) A day after his arrival, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama greeted with the Mongolian faithful at the Gandantegchinlen Monastery, the center for Buddhism in Mongolia, on Saturday. On the next day, His Holiness delivered a unique teaching for his Mongolian followers. The teaching was attended by over 10 thousand people, jammed in the 5000-seat sports complex of Buyant Ukhaa.
"Tibetans and Mongolians have a long history of spiritual bonds. I admire Your (Mongolian Buddhists) strong and invincible faith. I have been to many highly developed countries. Development brings peace in the five senses, but fails in achieving inner peace. Having inner peace is essential to all", said the Dalai Lama.
The purpose of his teaching in Ulaanbaatar was to enhance Mongolia's benefaction, and therefore, to diminish the obstacles and traverses in Mongolia's way to prosperity.
The Dalai Lama is taking part in the discussion called "Science and Teachings of the Buddha" at the Corporate Hotel at the moment.
November 21 (news.mn) His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama recited a special sutra for Mongolians at the Buyant-Ukhaa complex on Sunday (20th of November). Although the complex has 5000 seats, many worshipers still had to queue outside. TV9 and MNB broadcasted the Dalai Lama's teaching live.
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the world's most celebrated exile arrived in Ulaanbaatar on Friday. This is the ninth visit of the Dalai Lama, who made his first visit to Mongolia in 1979. It could also be the last chance for Mongolians to see 81-year-old spiritual leader . Although Mongolia is facing the coldest November temperatures in a decade, with temperatures falling to -40 degrees, devout Buddhists have not been deterred - many have travelled hundreds of miles across the country to see the Tibetan Buddhist; others have come from abroad, such as the Russian Republic of Buryatia, which shares the common Buddhist heritage with Mongolia.
'The four-day visit of the Dalai Lama is purely religious in nature and won't include any meetings with officials,' said D.Choijamts a ranking lama at the Gandantegchilen Monastery.
On Friday, China's Foreign Ministry strongly urged Mongolia to cancel the Dalai Lama's visit for the sake of the "sound and steady" development of bilateral ties. In the past, China has protested against previous visits by the Dalai Lama; in 2002 it by briefly closed its border with Mongolia and in 2006 temporarily cancelled flights from Beijing.
Beijing views the Dalai Lama as a separatist seeking to split Tibet from China and strongly opposes all countries from hosting the monk; in September China also strongly denounced the European Union's parliament for receiving the Dalai Lama, saying the move could damage relations between the Brussels and Beijing.
Along with many thousands of other Tibetans, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet to India following an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. The People's Republic of China has ruled Tibet since 1959.
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 21 November 2016 (Dalai Lama) – The sun was shining this morning as the motorcade carrying His Holiness the Dalai Lama wove its way through the downtown traffic on its way to the hotel that was to be the venue for today's activities.
His Holiness first met with about 150 members of the Jetsun Dhampa Centre. Reading a report of their activities the Director informed His Holiness of the various community services they provide, such as offering spiritual support to prisoners and terminally ill patients and their families in one of the local cancer hospitals.
His Holiness commended their work and remarked approvingly that in Australia, one of the FPMT Centres similarly runs a hospice.
"In our old society," he said, "monks did not provide people with such practical service. If they can do so, it is immensely beneficial. Once when I was visiting Arunachal Pradesh, some local people praised the Christians for their practical help. They complained that the Buddhist monasteries gave no such help, but readily accepted donations."
His Holiness recalled his first visit to Thailand and a meeting he had with the Sangharaja. He raised the question of Buddhist monks engaging in community service as their Christian brothers and sisters did. The Sangharaja responded that a Buddhist monk's role was to dwell in isolation in order to focus on his practice. His Holiness reported that although he accepted the validity of this, he also felt that extending help to others would also be mutually beneficial.
Advising the centre to take a more academic than religious approach to their study of philosophy and logic, His Holiness related what he has told Buddhists in Ladakh:
"Many people tend to think of monasteries only as places of worship. But if you introduce extensive study of Buddhist science and philosophy, and don't limit yourselves to performing rituals, people will come to view these institutions as centres of learning where people of any faith or none can acquire knowledge that will be helpful in their day to day life.
"In the past some Westerners referred to Tibetan Buddhism dismissively as Lamaism because of the prominent role accorded to Lamas in the conduct of rituals and prayers. However, I constantly remind people that Tibetan Buddhism derives directly from the traditions of Nalanda University. These days, more and more people are coming to realize that Tibetan Buddhism is a complete form of Buddhism. Many Chinese Buddhists are coming to appreciate the emphasis the Tibetan tradition places on study and that Tibetan Buddhist scholars are accomplished teachers with more to impart than just prayers and rituals. Therefore, increasing numbers of Chinese Buddhists are showing interest in studying Tibetan Buddhism. Even Western scientists have noted that the logical character of Tibetan Buddhism is comparable to science."
Addressing a conference on Buddhism and Science organized by the Tritiya Dharma Chakra Foundation and the Jetsun Dhampa Centre, His Holiness remarked that having attended such meetings in the West, in India and Japan, he was now happy and honoured to participate in such a conference in Mongolia.
"I sometimes describe myself as half-Buddhist and half-scientist," he disclosed. "For more than 30 years I have held discussions with scientists focussed mainly on neurobiology, cosmology, physics---especially quantum physics---and psychology. Buddhist literature also has a contribution to make to understanding of these four fields, so our discussions have been immensely beneficial. Buddhist scholars and practitioners have benefited from learning about physics while modern scientists have shown a keen interest in learning more about what Buddhism has to say about the workings of the mind and emotions."
Referring to historical relations between the two peoples, His Holiness remarked that even before they developed an interest in Buddhism, Tibetans and Mongolians were like brothers and sisters. In due course both came to uphold the pure Nalanda tradition.
After Kabju D. Nyamsambuu of Gandan Tegchenling Monastery had spoken about ethics and living a moral life, His Holiness responded that his interest in science is twofold. On the one hand science leads to a clearer understanding of reality, on the other scientific findings can help promote human values.
Helen Y. Wang, a neuroscientist and a clinical psychologist at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco spoke about Contemplative Neuroscience and Socially Engaged Buddhism. She presented her findings that training in meditation on compassion not only increases altruistic behaviour but also the neural response to suffering. She also explained how much more accurate measurements of brain activity and different types of mental activity can be achieved using pattern recognition technology. His Holiness commented that although single-pointed meditation may temporarily reduce anger, analytical meditation is also important for helping us understand why we are angry and how compassion can be of benefit in overcoming anger in the long run.
His Holiness was invited by the Indian Ambassador to lunch at the Indian Embassy.
Returning to the conference in the afternoon he explained ways in which Buddhism can relate to modern science.
"I usually divide Buddhism into three parts: science, philosophy—which deals for example with conventional and ultimate truth—and religion which is only of interest to spiritual practitioners. It's on the basis of Buddhist science and philosophy that we have been able to hold conversations with modern scientists over the last 30 years and more."
In the first presentation of the afternoon, B. Boldsaikhan from the System Science Research Institute of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology spoke about medicine and logic under the heading Buddhism & Bridging Science. Next, K. Namsrai, a senior scholar in physics gave a talk about relations between Quantum Physics and Buddhist philosophy. He mentioned a profound connection between abstract physical theory and nature. He concluded with a request for His Holiness's prayers for the welfare of ordinary nomads and herders.
Dr. Fadel Zeidan, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy and Associate Director of Neuroscience at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine and a Mind & Life Fellow, spoke about the Neuroscience of Mindfulness, Meditation and Pain. He stressed the importance of developing non-drug remedies to alleviate pain and suffering, mentioning how mindfulness training can contribute to relief of anxiety, depression, elevated blood pressure and other health issues.
Finally, N. Ariun, a biologist, spoke about the Latest Developments in Biological Sciences and Buddhism.
In his concluding remarks, His Holiness mentioned encouraging findings that basic human nature is compassionate and that this quality can be strengthened through education. He spoke of the need to promote a sense of the oneness of humanity based on human beings' shared compassionate nature. He stressed that promoting this will require vision and determination, but that conferences such as today's could make avaluable contribution to that goal.
Tomorrow, His Holiness will take part in a conference with Mongolian Youths.
September 10 (TsemRinpoche.com) Several months ago, my teacher His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche gave me a book about the 5th Noyon Hutagt, Danzan Ravjaa (1803 – 1856). This book was titled Lama of the Gobi: How Mongolia's Mystic Monk Spread Tibetan Buddhism in the World's Harshest Desert by Michael Kohn. When I read it, I was quite amazed with his personality as he was very unconventional. Although he was known for his love of alcohol and women, he was a prolific writer who composed more than 400 poems and songs. Danzan Ravjaa was not only famous for his literary talent but also for his medical skills, prophecies, and his knowledge of philosophy and astrology.
During his lifetime, Danzan Ravjaa used his charisma and influence to advance public education and women's rights. The monasteries he established became prominent in spreading Buddhism during his lifetime. He was also known for promoting both the Yellow Hat (Gelug) and Red Hat (Nyingma) traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
I believe that a historical character should not be judged by contemporary standards. Instead we should look at the circumstances and situations surrounding the character in question. Looking at his legacy and his life story, Danzan Ravjaa was definitely not an ordinary person. It is a pleasure for me to be able to write about this controversial personality.
Introduction to the Noyon Hutagt Incarnation Lineage
The Noyon Hutagt is regarded as the emanation of Hayagriva, also known as Tamdrin Yansang Yidam in Mongolia. According to Michael Khon, Tamdrin Yansang Yidam is a deity famous for "wizardry, power, genius and healing".
Hayagriva is believed to be the wrathful manifestation of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion, who helps practitioners to overcome their internal and external obstacles. Due to his nature as Chenrezig, he helps practitioners develop altruistic compassion.
The Noyon Hutagt Incarnation Lineage
The 1st Noyon Hutagt, Agvangonchig (1621 – 1703)
The 2nd Noyon Hutagt, Jamyn Dambi Jantsen (1704 – 1739)
November 21 (gogo.mn) On the occasion of World Philosophy Day, Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, the Institute of Philosophy of Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and the Department of Philosophy of Mongolian National University will organize an Academic Conference on "Aristotle and Contemporary Philosophy" dedicated to the celebration of the 2400th anniversary of Aristotle's birth.
The conference will be held in the conference hall, 3rd floor Mongolian Academy of Sciences on November 21, 2016.
The conference aims to bring discussions all aspects of Aristotle's work which spreads over the broadest range of topics, covering all major branches of philosophy and his contributions to the intellectual history and advance scholarship on history of philosophy.
Keynote paper "Aristotle's ethics and political philosophy" will be delivered by Prof. B.Dashyondon. He had translated Aristotle works into Mongolian language and one of the most distinguished scholars in the field of history of world philosophy. He is currently working on the project "philosophy of Mongolian development"
Nine contributed papers will be presented by other scholars such as "Aristotle's view of virtue and contemporary", "Some issues on the notion of Metaphysics", Aristotle's contributions to the logics", On the notion of Analytics", "Some moral issues in the Nichomachean Ethics", On discipline of Aristotle's philosophy", "Political issues of Aristotle philosophy", "Aristotle's aesthesis and today", and "Aristotle's conceptions on education"
In other words, these papers will address particular issues about Aristotle's works on ethics, discipline, education, aesthesis, politics, and logics.
Meet Garav, the Mongolian Wildlife Ranger whose leadership helped shape 'her' National Park into one of her country's finest and most effective conservation areas.
November 11 (Snow Leopard Trust) When Narangarav Bayasgalan – who goes by Garav, for short – started her job as a Research Specialist for Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park in Mongolia, the Park had the reputation of being the least effective of all the National Parks in Mongolia and was equipped with only 2 GPS units and 1 set of binoculars to be shared by all the rangers. Ironically, not even these 2 GPS units were used by the park rangers; they simply did not know how the devices could help their work.
A fast learner and hard worker, this resolute young ecologist had quickly risen through the conservation ranks after her graduation from the Ecology and Conservation Department of Mongolia's Agriculture University in 2007, She'd served as park ranger first, but had soon been promoted to be a policy and mining specialist in the local government. But after a few years, she'd wanted to get back into the field more – and successfully applied to become a Research Specialist at Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park.
In her new role, Garav not only was responsible for designing and implementing all research and monitoring on biodiversity in the park – she also became the team leader and manager of 7 (male) wildlife rangers. With her team-first attitude and her leadership by example, she quickly gained the respect of her colleagues – including her rangers and her supervisors.
Once Garav realized how the park's research efforts were hindered by a lack of training and equipment, she convinced park management to work with the Snow Leopard Trust's Mongolia Program to learn more about snow leopard research methods.
Garav and her team were so excited about their first training that they asked for more – and soon after, they were not only using their two GPS units on a daily basis, but also started borrowing additional units from the Snow Leopard Trust.
Building upon the initial training, the Snow Leopard Trust also provided Garav the opportunity to join a new camera trapping research effort on nearby Nemegt Mountain in 2013. She learned how to set up the cameras and track their location and results using GPS. She showed such a penchant for the work that only one field season later, in 2014, Garav led her own team of rangers to set up 37 camera traps on Nemegt Mountain, ultimately capturing 133 snow leopard encounters.
A wild snow leopard in Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park.
Today, thanks to Garav's strong leadership, Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park ranks as one of the most effective Mongolian National Parks and is equipped with 22 GPS units and 23 binoculars that the rangers regularly use. This success has enabled the Snow Leopard Trust's Mongolia Program to greatly increase the area that it can monitor for snow leopards, and greatly strengthened their relationship with both the National Park and the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism as a whole.
Key Allies for Monitoring and Research
Wildlife rangers like Garav, protected area staff, and community volunteers play a key role in our efforts to better understand and monitor snow leopards and their prey. They set up and recover camera traps that allow us to keep track of changes in the snow leopard population. They conduct prey surveys, where they count ibex and blue sheep to make sure there's enough wild prey for the snow leopards. Thanks to these dedicated individuals, we are now monitoring more than 3 times as much snow leopard habitat as we were just 5 years ago.
November 21 (news.mn) The Mongolian judo team has won seven medals at the Qingdao Grand Prix in China. The event, which is organised by International Judo Federation, started on Friday (18th of November) and finished yesterday. Mongolian judoka D.Amartuvshin took a gold medal in the men's 60-kg division. The following members of the team: Ch.Tsogtgerel (men's -100kg) and G.Altanbagana (men's 90kg), Ts.Munkhzaya (women's 63kg), U.Duurenbayar (men's +100kg), D.Altansukh (men's 66kg) and N.Dagvasuren (men's 81kg) all took silver.
The Mongolian team ranked third at the end of the competition. Athletes from 17 countries participated in the Qingdao Grand Prix.
Ulaanbaatar, November 21 (MONTSAME) The powerlifters won one gold, two silver and one bronze medals at the World Raw Powerlifting Championships, held November 15-20 in Moscow. A team of six athletes of Mongolia took part in the Doping Control category.
Master of Sports, Lieutenant Colonel Z.Munkh-Erdene won the gold medal in men's -100 kg of the first age classification, International Master of Sports, Police Lieutenant Sh.Altanbagana won silver medal and №2 Absolute Champion Cup in men's -100 kg of adult classification, NEMA Sergeant M.Luvsandanzan grabbed the silver medal in men's -82.5 kg of junior classification, and International Master of Sports Sh.Ariunbaatar won the bronze medal in men's -90 kg of adult classification.
Other two powerlifters have secured the 5th place in -110 kg and 4th place in -90 kg.
November 21 (news.mn) The General Assembly of the Asian University Sports Federation (AUSF) has met in Xiamen, China. At the meeting, which took place yesterday and today (20th-21st of November), D.Jargalsaikhan was appointed as vice-president of the AUSF. D.Jargalsaikhan also holds the post of general secretary of the Mongolian Students' Sports Federation.
Director D.Bayasgalan and general secretary D.Jargalsaikhan from the Mongolian Students' Sports Federation as well as M.Usukhbayar director of the 'Mon-Altius' institute participated in the meeting.
November 21 (WYDaily.com) Mountainous terrain on the other side of the world is a challenge just to hike for 62 miles. Toano resident Julia Moffitt went a step further by running it.
Moffit, a 38-year-old fitness trainer and yoga instructor, ran the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset Ultramarathon in August in Lake Hovsgol National Park, located in northern Mongolia near the Siberian border.
With mountains that offer spectacular views, the park has a pristine alpine lake that is one of the largest single bodies of drinkable fresh water in the world. The lake supports a flourishing population of grayling, a salmon-type fish, according to information provided by race organizers.
"There is extreme beauty," Moffit said. "The sky is so big and the culture is so different (from Western culture)."
This was Moffit's third time running the ultramarathon. She finished in eighth place in a field of 80 runners from approximately 20 countries, including Mongolia, Brazil, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and many European countries, according to Bernhard Hagen, who handles public relations for the race.
For the past 18 years, ecoLeap Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, has sponsored the race as a fundraiser to help preserve the northern Mongolian wilderness, which still has many indigenous people, according to Hagen.
In order for their herds of yaks, goats and horses to graze, the indigenous people are constantly on the move, Hagen noted.
Moffitt noticed the native people have a diet heavy in meat and fat, due to the harsh environment.
"They do not understand a vegetarian diet," she said.
Moffit, a Tufts University graduate and National Academy of Sports Medicine certified instructor, said the ultramarathon is just part of the journey.
With layovers, it takes about three days to get to the race site. A flight to a city about the size of Toano is just the beginning, followed by a flight on a smaller plane. After the second flight, there is a three-hour jeep ride to the camp, Moffitt said.
Most runners arrive about three days before the ultramarathon to adjust to the altitude, she added.
Moffitt said the trek is worth it, but it's not without challenges, including medical treatment. If an injury happens during the race, the injured person must be brought down from the mountains by horse.
In addition to running, Moffitt also served as a yoga instructor for other race participants. Many runners she taught had never tried yoga before.
"It was great doing it for the first time outside on with lake with the snow in the background," she said.
Moffitt hopes to make next year's ultramarathon her fourth.
"It is like no place I've been to before," she said. "The race is tough, but worth it seeing a part of the world that is so unspoiled."
November 21 (gogo.mn) Mongolia is being represented by 25 years old, Bayartsetseg Altangerel at the Miss World 2016, the oldest and most classic major international beauty pageant, initiated in the United Kingdom by Eric Morley in 1951.
Bayartsetseg Altangerel, the TOP 16 semifinalist at the Miss Earth 2015, attracted all the attention last year when the beauty presented her Eco beauty video for Miss Earth 2015. This year, she has done again a wonderful introductory video that has drawn everybody's attention.
Miss World 2016 will kick off on the 26th of November at the United States of America, when the contestants will gather to begin their final journey to the Miss World Crown.
Over 110 contestants from all over the world will join together for this once in a lifetime experience.
Bayartsetseg Altangerel is working in collaboration with a program - Brothers and Sisters mentoring Program for Orphans. The youth who reside in the orphanage to dedicated, responsible, motivated and civically engaged adults who can foster caring relationships and guide them in their professional interest and transition into adulthood.
The official voting for Miss World pageant started on November 20, 2016. Each vote counts and your contribution can make Mongolia into TOP 10 automatically if we can win in Multimedia Awards. Click HERE to vote for Mongolian beauty.
-Describe yourself in one or two sentences?
-I am an adventurous soul and risk taker who allows for the unexpected. I slept on the Great Wall of China with a tent, backpacked in Asia and Europe, travelled 3000km by motorcycle, escaped from six burglars at night in Paris, quit my marketing office job, took the TOEFL test and went to the United States to pursue acting in Hollywood.
-What is the most important thing in your life?
-The most important thing in life is to 'live'. Most people just exist, I think the energy which makes me keep going is loving what I do and believing in who I am.
-I lived the life of a nomad for 2 months in the middle of nowhere – the great Mongolian steppe – to promote the importance of one's own cultural identity and connection to nature. Today I am directing and producing a documentary film titled "Back to the roots" to share my experiences and encourage the youth to protect and cherish our cultural identity and traditions.
November 21 (gogo.mn) State Morin Khuur Ensemble is presenting its "Best of Classics" concert on November 26th in the concert hall of Central Cultural Palace.
The tickets are now available at www.TICKET.mn for 30,000 and 25,000 MNT.
All the proceeds of the concert will go to "Everyone has a right to study" scholarship program by Rotaract Club of Tsetsee Gung.
State Morin Khuur Ensemble to play the world and Mongolian classics at the concert.
A father daughter trip to explore a nomadic culture
November 18 (The Queen's Journal) Before leaving on our trek, my dad and I were constantly asked "Why Mongolia?"
We knew it was an unconventional vacation destination but that's what made it so appealing. My dad had settled into replying "That's why – because you ask."
I was keen to witness a new culture and hoped to gain insight into the life of Mongolian people. My dad, a well-travelled man, has had the experience of being immersed in other cultures and I was looking forward to gaining this experience for myself.
When my dad was in his late twenties, he spent a year travelling Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand on his own. His unending stories growing up made it hard not to have wanderlust as a young adult. He always spoke fondly of his experience in a fishing village in India where he met a young boy who was studying English.
This boy asked to spend the day with my dad to practice the language. That night, the boy's family insisted my dad join them for dinner and they served a dish considered a delicacy in their culture — a soup containing the innards of a fish. I still can't believe he ate it. But then again, throughout our travels in Mongolia he was always the first one to try any new foods offered by the nomads.
His many stories like this taught me the importance of respecting other cultures and being open to trying new things. So, when he offered me the opportunity to travel abroad with him, I jumped at the chance.
As we sifted through a variety of destinations, I found myself most intrigued by a group trekking adventure titled Mongolia in the Footsteps of Nomads with Tim Cope, run by World Expeditions – an Australian-based adventure touring company.
As I read more and more on Mongolia, I discovered a fascinating culture unlike any I had heard of before. This group trekking adventure offered an 18-day trip which included a trek through remote Western Mongolia and presented an opportunity to attend Naadam — a hugely-celebrated competition of the "three manly sports", wrestling, archery and horseback riding.
I'd never been camping before, or even in a tent prior to this trip. So, the idea of sleeping in a tent throughout the trek and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, coupled with getting to spend time learning about such a unique culture of nomadic people was extremely enticing — my decision was made.
During our trek, we would stop in whenever we came across a ger, which happened maybe once or twice a day. Gers are the traditional dwelling of Mongolian nomads and are able to be packed up when the nomads choose to relocate.
Each ger we saw was completely unique — decorated with tapestries and full of bright colours. However, each one had the same arrangement: a circular tent covered in felt and canvas with a stove in the middle which vented through a small hole in the center of the ger's roof. Many nomads burn dried yak dung to warm their stovetops as it can be difficult to obtain other sources of fuel. The nomadic lifestyle involves having no permanent residence, and often packing up and relocating for better weather or to find the greenest pastures for their livestock.
According to the World Bank Group, Mongolia sits at a population of just under three million spread over an area of 1.5 million square kilometers. To put that in perspective, the entire country is about the size of Quebec and holds roughly one third of the province's population. Mongolia is one of the least densely populated countries on earth, which lends well to the nomadic lifestyle.
After a long cold morning of trekking in the rain, we came across a warm ger where we were invited inside to sit and have our lunch. We were all so thankful for a dry place to warm up we didn't mind the smell of yak dung wafting through the air.
This is where we met Davaa, with his long white whisp of a beard and a pipe that barely left his lips. Once we had all settled in we were offered some of Davaa's homemade vodka — a drink crafted by many nomads, made from fermented mare's milk. And, as in many of the gers we visited, we were offered unending portions of the traditional salty tea, dried yak curd and fried dough. Davaa filled a silver bowl with his strong alcohol and passed it with both hands through the circle.
To show our gratitude for the continued hospitality, at each ger our group would present the family with a few gifts. These small gifts — lotion for women, flashlights for men, or a small toy for children, were so heartily appreciated at each home. Tim Cope, our guide, has spent much of his life immersed in the Mongolian culture and included the suggestion to bring small gifts in our pre-departure package.
My dad and I had packed a toy car game and when we were invited into a ger with a young boy aged seven or eight, we thought this might be a good time to part with that gift. With an ear-to-ear grin, the young boy heartily accepted the game and immediately opened the packaging and began to play.
This pattern continued with every family we met. Each child presented with a small toy, a token of gratitude, looked as though they had just come downstairs on Christmas morning. We were told that these families would need to travel for several days on horseback to reach the nearest market to access small goods and toys, so the children aren't spoiled the way we so often see in our culture back home.
As our trek continued, we met several families who lived the nomadic lifestyle. Every family greeted us with such hospitality and an endless openness to answer our questions. These nomads live a life of few possessions, only what they can pack up and take with them as they move.
One nomadic woman, when asked how they get money responded What do I need money for? In that answer lies so much of nomadic culture. Their livelihood is with their livestock, so there's little use for money in their typical daily life. Every nomad we met and spoke with had nothing but great things to say about their hard-working lives. My travels in Mongolia have made me reassess my view of the materialism engrained in our society. It has made me so much more aware and so much more appreciative for all that I have.
Reflecting on this experience I'm so grateful for all the nomads I met, they all seemed so honestly happy with what they had, living off of the land, despite their lack of quick access to a city centre or material goods. They live a life that seems so much simpler than the added complications of big city life.
The nomads we met have given me an understanding of deep gratitude and for this I'm ever thankful.
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