Friday, December 16, 2016

[MMC invited back to the table; MATD gets its blocks back; AKM announces placement; $1B India loan to fund oil refinery; and Dec 30 declared a holiday]

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, 2016

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

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original



Int'l Market

·         MMC, Shenhua, Sumitomo consortium invited to continue Tavan Tolgoi negotiations

·         Strategic plan for Mongolia's biggest coal mine

·         Petro Matad's reassignment of Shell's Mongolian oil blocks approved

·         Aspire Mining responds to investor demand with share placement

·         Entree Gold Announces Non-Brokered Private Placement

Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report, Dec 15: Top 20 +3.06%, ALL +2.05%, Turnover ₮50.3 Million Shares


·         MNT sets 14th straight historic low vs USD

·         BoM sells US$47.5m at ₮2488, CNY47.3m at ₮352.52, accepts $10m USD swap ofers

·         NSO reports on November employment data

·         Central bank's Monetary Policy Council to meet four times in 2017

Politics & Legal

·         Dec 30 also declared as a non-working day due to influenza outbreak

·         Four candidates currently running for DP leadership

·         S.Zorig murder trial begins ... and is postponed

·         Cabinet backs reestablishing domestic troops

·         Khalkh Gol agricultural zone discussed in cabinet

·         MP S.Chinzorig delves into pension and social insurance bill

·         Fire units to be set up in some soums


·         $1 billion Indian export loan to finance oil refinery in Sainshand

·         Development Bank of Mongolia and Sberbank of Russia sign MoU

·         8 "Must Do's" to Keep your Mongolia Company Safe


·         Hard Rock Cafe opens in Ulaanbaatar

·         Mayor's Office and Mongolian Bankers Association to launch Green Credit Fund

·         Capital city will collect ₮524.1 billion revenue next year


·         Mongolia to close two embassies, two consulates to save money

·         Chinese state media claims India is bribing Mongolia

·         India's relations with Mongolia

·         Leaders of Mongolian and Russian ruling parties to meet in Moscow

Culture & Society

·         Church Multiplication in Mongolia

Nature & Environment

·         ACMS Speaker Series - Unudelgerekh Batkhuu, Mongol Ecology Center

·         First national forest inventory conducted in 40 years

·         Paleoseismology field trip at the International Conference on Astronomy & Geophysics in Mongolia, 2017


·         Winners of MFF Golden Ball 2016 Announced

Art & Entertainment

·         The Eagle Huntress review – feathery documentary needs sharper claws


·         Great Escape: Mongolia's Altai Kazakh Eagle Hunters Festival

·         Taking holiday snaps to another level: Bayankhongor one of winning images of Travel Photographer of the Year awards

·         Navigate the Snowy Landscapes of Mongolia with This Reindeer Herding Family



Int'l Market

Announcement made after Thursday market close. 975 closed -7% Thursday to HK$0.265

MMC, Shenhua, Sumitomo consortium invited to continue Tavan Tolgoi negotiations

December 15 -- This announcement is made by Mongolian Mining Corporation (In Provisional Liquidation) (the "Company") pursuant to Rule 13.09(2) of the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the "Listing Rules") and the Inside Information Provisions under Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong).

References are made to the announcements dated 31 October 2014, 1 December 2014 and 23 December 2014 issued by the Company in relation to participating in a tender process (the "Tender") of the Government of Mongolia (the "GoM") pursuant to resolution number 268 of the GoM dated 20 August 2014 ("Resolution No. 268"), submission of a bid for the opportunity to engage in coal mining, processing, transportation and exploration activities at Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit in Mongolia (the "Bid") and Bid award to the consortium formed by Energy Resources LLC ("ER"), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, with China Shenhua Energy Company Limited and Sumitomo Corporation (the "Consortium").

The board of directors of the Company (the "Board") wishes to announce that on 15 December 2016, the Consortium received an official letter from the working group established by the GoM, formed after election held in June 2016, for the purpose of continuing negotiations in relation to the Tavan Tolgoi project.

The Consortium has been informed to continue participating in discussions with the working group representing the GoM regarding the terms and conditions of an investment and cooperation agreement and such other ancillary agreements in relation to the Tavan Tolgoi project.

The Company will make further announcement(s) in connection with its conclusion of definitive agreements with the GoM and/or its designated entities as and when required under the Listing Rules or other applicable rules and regulations.

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Strategic plan for Mongolia's biggest coal mine

December 15 ( The Mongolian Government has developed the following plan for its strategically important coal mine at Tavan Tolgoi:

First, Mongolia will own not less than 51% of a joint venture for implementing the Tavan Tolgoi project and will guarantee 'Erdenes-Tavan Tolgoi' (ETT) company's involvement at the appropriate level.

Second, Mongolia will own 51% of joint venture to construct a railway line between the Tavan Tolgoi mine and the Gashuun Sukhait border crossing with China; in the, Mongolian Railway (MTZ) will be involved.

Third, Project implementers can export the coal after extraction in Mongolia. This aims, to increase the capacity of coal processing plants or to construct a concentrate plant.

Fourth, project implementers and operating companies must ensure the involvement of Mongolian enterprises at a potentially high level.

Tavan Tolgoi is one of the world's largest untapped coking and thermal coal deposits and is located in the Umnugovi Province in southern Mongolia.

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MATD jumped 7.21% Thursday to 8.18p

Petro Matad's reassignment of Shell's Mongolian oil blocks approved

December 15 (ShareCast) The Mongolian government has approved the reassignment of interests in two oil blocks worth about $15m from Royal Dutch Shell to Petro Matad.

The reassignment of blocks four and five were approved, which means that through its wholly-owned affiliate, Central Asian Petroleum Corporation, Petro Matad now owns 100% of the two blocks.

Shell will pay $5m to Petro Matad within 10 working days, following on from the $10m paid by the oil giant previously.

The reassignment needed sign-offs at many levels before the Mongolian cabinet could ultimately approve the request, which was delayed due to elections in June and the subsequent reorganisation of government departments.

The company said that it is preparing to drill two wells next year and the drilling tender will be released in January, with the first well expected to spud in mid-2017.

Shares in Petro Matad rose 2.11% to 8.22p at 1150 GMT and shares in Royal Dutch Shell nudged up 0.05% to 2,137p at 1212 GMT.

Link to article

Link to MATD release

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AKM trading flat on the announcement at A$0.031

Aspire Mining responds to investor demand with share placement

December 16 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining (ASX:AKM) has received interest to invest in the company and completed an equity raising of up to $320,000 comprising a placement and option exercise.

Up to $220,000 worth of shares will be placed to a new investor priced at $0.03.

Neil Lithgow, director and substantial shareholder has also exercised $100,000 worth of options, priced at $0.03.

Aspire is the largest coal tenement holder in Mongolia's Northern provinces and is the 100% owner of the Ovoot Coking Coal Project which is the second largest coking coal project by reserves in Mongolia.

The Ovoot project development is dependent on the construction of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway which is being progressed by Aspire's subsidiary Northern Railways.

Production from the Ovoot project can coincide with the commissioning of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway.

Aspire also currently owns a 50% interest in and is the operator of the Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture (ECJV), and has an option to increase its ownership to 100% of the ECJV.

The ECJV owns a 90% interest in the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project which has a 12.85 million tonne JORC resource.

Nuurstei is well placed to be an early user of the proposed Northern Railway Project which will service Aspire's Ovoot Coking Coal Project.

Nuurstei is viewed as a low capital cost starter project which could assist with the development of the much larger Ovoot Coking Coal Project which is 160 kilometres further to the west.

While tonnages at Nuurstei are modest, the project presents as a commercial scale pilot project for logistics and market development.

The stock is up 300% or 45x year to date trading at $0.032.

Aspire's inclusion in the Economic Corridor in late June has been a key price catalyst for the stock.

Link to article

Link to AKM release

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Announcement made after market close. EGI closed -6.68% Thursday to US$0.278

Entree Gold Announces Non-Brokered Private Placement

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 15, 2016) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG)(NYSE MKT:EGI)(FRANKFURT:EKA) ("Entrée" or the "Company") is pleased to announce a non-brokered private placement of up to 17,000,000 units of the Company ("Units") at a price of C$0.41 per Unit for gross proceeds of up to C$6,970,000 (the "Private Placement").

Each Unit will consist of one common share and one-half of one transferable common share purchase warrant (each whole warrant, a "Warrant"). Each Warrant entitles the holder to purchase one additional common share of the Company at a price of C$0.65 per share for a period of 5 years following the date of issuance.

The net proceeds from the Private Placement are expected to be used to support the restructuring of Entrée's business into two well-funded, separate publicly traded companies as announced on October 3, 2016. Proceeds will also be used for an exploration program designed to test several high priority targets at the Company's Ann Mason Project in Nevada, and for general corporate purposes.

Closing of the Private Placement is anticipated to occur in the first half of January 2017, and is subject to receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals including acceptance by the TSX and the NYSE MKT. The securities issued in connection with the Private Placement will be subject to a hold period of four months plus one day from the date of issuance, in accordance with applicable securities laws.

Certain insiders of the Company may acquire Units under the Private Placement. Any participation by insiders in the Private Placement would constitute a "related party transaction" as defined under Multilateral Instrument 61-101 - Protection of Minority Security Holders in Special Transactions ("MI 61-101"). However, such participation would be exempt from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements of MI 61-101 based on the fact that neither the fair market value of the Units subscribed for by the insiders, nor the consideration paid by such insiders for the Units, would exceed 25% of the Company's market capitalization.

The securities being offered pursuant to the Private Placement have not been, and will not be registered under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or state securities laws and may not be offered or sold within the United States or to, or for the account or benefit of, U.S. persons absent U.S. federal and state registration or an applicable exemption from the U.S. registration requirements. This news release does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any of the securities in the United States.

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report, Dec 15: Top 20 +3.06%, ALL +2.05%, Turnover ₮50.3 Million Shares

December 15 (MSE) --

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

BoM MNT Rates: Thursday, December 15 Close










































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,478 Sell ₮2,489), TDB (Buy ₮2,478 Sell ₮2,489), Golomt (Buy ₮2,478 Sell ₮2,489), XacBank (Buy ₮2,481 Sell ₮2,491), State Bank (Buy ₮2,478 Sell ₮2,489)

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

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BoM sells US$47.5m at 2488, CNY47.3m at 352.52, accepts $10m USD swap ofers

December 15 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid weighted average rate of MNT2493.25 for USD47.5 million and weighted average rate of MNT358.55 for CNY47.3 million respectively. The BoM accepted bid offers of USD with a single rate of MNT 2488.00 and bid offers of CNY with a single rate of MNT352.52.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM received selling bid offers of USD10.0 million of USD swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM accepted the bid offers.

Link to release

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NSO reports on November employment data

December 15 (UB Post) The National Statistical Office (NSO) recently released a report on 2016's unemployment rate, average income, and labor statistics.

According to the NSO, as of late November, there were 45,300 citizens registered with the state's employment agency, with 33,400 citizens registered as unemployed, a 6.8 percent increase compared to last year. More than 57.9 percent of unemployed citizens are in the 15 to 34 age group, and most of them reside in rural areas.

As of the third quarter of 2016, the average monthly income was 884,300 MNT, a 5.7 percent increase compared to the same period in 2015. Approximately 581,400 workers paid social insurance taxes. According to the NSO's data, five percent of working people earn a monthly salary of 192,000 MNT or less, 10.4 percent earn 192,000 to 300,000 MNT, 19.3 percent earn 300,000 to 500,000 MNT, and 35.1 percent of working people earn 500,000 to 900,000 MNT a month. The percentage of workers earning 900,000 to 1.3 million MNT per month is 16.4 percent, 3.8 percent of workers earn 1.3 to 1.5 million MNT, and 9.9 percent of workers earn a monthly 1.5 million MNT or more.

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Central bank's Monetary Policy Council to meet four times in 2017

Ulaanbaatar, December 15 (MONTSAME) Under an order of the President of Mongolbank, dates of meetings of the central bank's Monetary Policy Council (MPC) has been fixed on December 14.

According to decision, the council will meet four time and its first meeting is scheduled on 15 to 17 March 2017 in Ulaanbaatar, the 2nd meeting-- from 14 to 16 June, the 3rd meeting-- from 18 to 20 September, the 4th meeting— from 12 to 15 December.

The meetings will aim to strengthen the independence of the Central bank of Mongolia and to deploy foreign experts in the activity for developing monetary policy of Mongolbank.

The Council on monetary policy headed by the President of Mongolbank includes the leaders and independent members of the Central Bank.

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Politics & Legal

Dec 30 also declared as a non-working day due to influenza outbreak

December 15 ( Dec 30th is announced as a non-working day, according to the plenary session of the State Great Khural. Therefore, residents will be on holiday starting Dec 29th, 2016 to Jan 1st, 2017. 

The decision was made due to influenza outbreaks and severe weather condition. 

According to the Law on Celebrating Public Holidays, working day of Dec 30th, 2016 moves to the next Saturday (Jan 7, 2017).

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Four candidates currently running for DP leadership

December 14 ( Earlier this month, the Democratic Party of Mongolia held its 6th convention following a 10-year break. At the convention, the party decided to hold an election for its new leader following the new rules - this means all members will be involved.

Registration of candidates for the post of party leader must be made by the 17th of December. Currently, four candidates namely, J.Batzandan, L.Bold, S.Erdene and L.Gantumur have registered. The campaign for party leader costs MNT2.5 billion and will be financed by the candidates. 

Previously, the leader was elected by the DP's National Consultative Committee then approved by the convention.  Z.Enkhbold resigned as party leader following the crushing defeat of the DP in the June election.

The new party leader will be elected on 29th of January, 2017.

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S.Zorig murder trial begins ... and is postponed

December 14 ( The murder trial of S.Zorig, one of the heroes of Mongolia's peaceful transition to democracy, began at the 461st detention center on Wednesday (14th of December) at 11.28 a.m. However, the judges have decided to postpone the trial until next week, reportedly at request of the attorneys. The trial will continue at 11.00 am of December 21, 2016, at the same location.

As a justification of the postponement, the attorneys said they "need to conduct further research on the case file"; the judges also decided to include more witnesses. The sister of S.Zorig, former member of parliament for the Democratic Party, S.Oyun, and two other siblings expected to be witness in court, were not present.

In total, 55 journalists from over 30 media agencies obtained permission for reporting on the trial. However, the journalists can only report on the opening and closing of the trail due to the fact the some information appertaining to the case is considered as highly sensitive and classified.

On the bench, M.Aldar, B.Munk-Erdene and S.Oyunchimeg will be judging the most famous case in the modern history of Mongolia. Ts.Amgalanbaatar and two other people stand trial for the murder of the politician.

On October 2nd 1998, the then Mongolian Minister of Infrastructure S.Zorig was brutally murdered. Various people have been detained in connection with the case, most notably Zorig's wife B.Bulgan; she was released from prison on 9th September after having been held incommunicado since November 2015.

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Cabinet backs reestablishing domestic troops

Ulaanbaatar, December 15 (MONTSAME) The Law on Internal Troops, adopted in 1995, was repealed on January 16, 2014. With this, the functions of the internal troops were transferred to the police force.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Justice and Domestic Affairs claims that it is indispensable to re-form the internal troops with a compact structure and contingent and to ensure its self-sufficiency.

A draft law on internal troops were worked in consideration of the fact that the special functions of the internal troops are required for protection of state and public properties of particular importance, settle public chaos when necessary, protection of citizens and state properties in times of civil disorders, conducting of special operations against terror attack, and enforcement of quarantines during the natural calamities, disasters, wildfires and outbreaks of epidemic diseases of humans and animals.

The internal forces will be able to utilize kangaroo carriers, all-terrain vehicles, other vehicles equipped with special instruments and weapons, according to the bill.

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Khalkh Gol agricultural zone discussed in cabinet

Ulaanbaatar, December 15 (MONTSAME) At its regular meeting held on Wednesday, the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, P.Sergelen has reported to the cabinet on some measures taken towards establishing the Khalkh Gol agricultural zone.  

Afterwards, related Ministers were tasked to provide preparation works including development of a program on establishing and developing Khalkh Gol as an environmentally friendly, export-oriented agricultural zone with intensive farming and to ensure its implementation, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.

The cabinet also charged Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P.Sergelen to cancel illegal decisions on land allocations in the Khalkh Gol agricultural zone in accordance with relevant laws.

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MP S.Chinzorig delves into pension and social insurance bill

By B. Dulguun

December 15 (UB Post) Member of Parliament S.Chinzorig initiated a draft bill on repayment of pension contributions of herders and the self-employed, and another bill to amend the Law on Pensions and Benefits Provided by the Social Insurance Fund. MP S.Chinzorig gave an interview to clarify details of the two bills.

You submitted a draft bill on repayment of pension contributions by herders and self-employed people. What's the main purpose of this bill?

Studies show that there are 100,000 workers nationwide, 47.5 percent of whom are herders and self-employed laborers. It has been estimated that there are a total of some 300,000 herders and 240,000 self-insured people. However, their social insurance contribution (SIC) is very poor. In herders' case, only nine percent pay SIC while merely 15 percent of the self-employed pay SIC, according to research. This means that 85 to 90 percent of herders and the self-employed will be at a disadvantage when they grow older due to poor social security. I initiated a draft bill to allow one-time SIC repayment for these people so that we can boost their social security. It's up to the person to decide how many years' worth of SIC to repay. In any case, the bill opens opportunities for people who didn't or couldn't pay SIC in the past to repay that amount.

How would herders and self-employed people's outstanding SIC be calculated and paid?

Herders who haven't paid SIC for five or 10 years will repay in relation to the minimum annual wage of that period. For instance, let's say a herder hasn't paid SIC for 10 years. He or she will have to have his 10 years' worth of SIC calculated with the minimum wage amount of the past 10 years. If they didn't pay SIC for five years, they'll have to repay in relation to the minimum wage amount of five years ago.

 If the bill is approved, people of which age range can repay SIC?

The bill states that there are herders and self-employed persons between the ages of 15 and 60. Fifteen-year-olds are able to work under the supervision of parents or guardian according to the Labor Law. Sixty is the maximum age limit for SIC payers because people get their pension determined at the age of 60.

 How can people who are interested in paying outstanding SIC but are unable to pay with a large sum pay their SIC?

At present, over 540,000 people can have their SIC rewritten by repaying the unpaid amount. If these people were to fully repay their SIC, an estimate of more than 300 billion MNT will be centralized to the social insurance fund. However, it's up to each person to decide how many years' worth of SIC to repay. From my calculation, a herder who hasn't paid SIC for five years will have to pay around 400,000 MNT. It's understandable that some of them wouldn't be able to pay this amount at once considering the current economic situation in Mongolia, so I gave the government the authority to manage this matter through regulation. This means that the government can decide whether a pending social insurance payer has to repay the full amount within half a year or a year. Once the bill and relevant regulation have been approved, individuals can establish agreements with their affiliate social insurance department and pay SIC accordingly.

 The draft bill is being discussed by Parliament. If it is passed, when will the bill take effect?

As the law initiator, I proposed putting it into effect on January 1, 2017. It's required for MPs to consult cabinet members before submitting a draft bill. Cabinet members supported this bill. However, they suggested enforcing the bill in 2018 in consideration of a requirement to find an additional income source for the social insurance fund as the 2017 state budget has been approved and the challenges we'll have to face to implement the bill since the economy is in a bad shape. The working group that worked on this bill discussed this at the parliamentary standing committee meeting and decided to respect cabinet members' opinion.

 Besides the draft bill on repayment of pension contributions, you initiated another bill to amend the Law on Pensions and Benefits Provided by the Social Insurance Fund. What changes have you made to this law?

This draft bill is also under discussion at the moment. I'm hoping that it will be approved soon. We're trying to resolve comprehensive challenges faced by two groups of people through amendments.

Firstly, the bill aims to realistically value labor of mothers who gave birth and raised many children with the objective to have mothers insured. This way, mothers with many children will be able to get a decent pension when they retire. We will add 1.5 years' worth of SIC to the social security of mothers for every child they raise.

For example, if a woman worked for 20 years and had four children, six years will be added to the number of years they worked and paid SIC. The more years you have paid SIC, the more pension you will receive when you retire. As I said before, 1.5 years will be added for each child a woman raises so three years will be added if they have two children, 4.5 years if they have three children, six years if they have four children and so on.

Secondly, we're trying to make it so that women's SIC doesn't cut off when they take a three-year break from work to looking after their newborn child. In particular, employers will have to pay SIC for their female staff who take a break from work to look after their children until the child reaches the age of three. As for self-insured mothers, the social insurance fund will cover their contribution until their child turns three. The bill enables unemployed women who don't pay social insurance at all to have the state cover 50 percent of their SIC and the remaining 50 percent on their own.

Thirdly, pregnancy and maternity benefits are provided to women who pay SIC. The current law provides full income benefit to insured pregnant women and those on maternal leave. Self-insured mothers receive 75 percent of their income in welfare.  The newly proposed amendment will allow both insured and self-insured pregnant women and those on maternal leave to receive 100 percent of the income benefit.

The second group is herders. Two issues have been included in the bill to enhance social security of herders. One of them is the fact that herders work day and night outside and in the countryside without breaks or holidays. People working in urban settlements work only eight hours a day. Herders spend most of their time outside whether it's scorching hot, pouring or freezing cold. The average life expectancy of herders is relatively lower than people who live in settlements. In relation to this, an amendment to lower the retirement age of herders by five years has been added to the bill. The current Social Insurance Fund Law allows male herders to retire at the age of 60, and at 55 for female herders. The draft bill reduces it to 55 for men and 50 for women. The second additional regulation for herders is to account a year of herding as 1.5 years of herding to improve herders' social security.

 Lately, there have been many scandals related to social insurance such as pension scams where a state inspector embezzled pension through the accounts of the deceased. Improvements are necessary for the social insurance sector. How can the accessibility of this sector be increased?

Social insurance legislations must be revised. The pension and benefit amount needs to be increased to a level where people can continue to make ends meet. Like so there are many problems we must resolve. Seniors always ask us to help them reduce the pension gap – people who did the same work for the same amount of time are getting different pension depending on the year they retired. In other words, teachers who retired in the 1990s and teachers retiring now are getting different amount of pension. The gap is due to high wage increase in the past few years caused by high inflation rate. It's necessary to ensure that people who did the same work for the same amount of time to receive the same amount of pension when they retire.

Secondly, the notional defined contribution pension scheme was established for everyone born after January 1, 1960. A law specifying that pensions will be provided from notional defined contribution became effective in 2015. Yet, people who follow this pension scheme are getting less pension than those receiving pension from the social insurance fund.  Retirees can have their pension amount determined at 45 percent of their annual income at minimum or 80 percent at maximum through the social insurance fund. On the other hand, people registered under the pension scheme receive pension based on the amount their employers or themselves paid. There's a requirement to develop legislations and renew pension determining methods so that everyone can get a fair amount of pension for the work they did. These issues will be resolved step by step.

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Fire units to be set up in some soums

Ulaanbaatar, December 15 (MONTSAME) At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the cabinet decided to establish fire units in Khalkh Gol soum of Dornod province, and in Gurvan tes and Khanbogd soums of Omnogobi aimag in consideration of high risk of fires. Also, a rescue team will be formed in Tumentsogt soum of Sukhbaatar province.

Preparation works will be provided in 2017 to launch the units in 2018.

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$1 billion Indian export loan to finance oil refinery in Sainshand

By B. Chimeg

December 15 ( Within the framework of general loan agreement between Mongolian government and Export-Import bank of Republic of India for the issuance of US$ 1 billion loan, oil refinery will be built in Sainshand soum of Dornogobi aimag, Mongolia. 

Total investment of the project is US$ 1 billion, of which 

  • US$ 0.7 billion for oil refinary,
  • US$ 264 million for oil pipelins. 

The oil refinery is projected to earn net profit of US$ 43 million annually from its annual sales of US$ 1.2 billion and planned to recover its investment in 8-10 years. 

The oil refinery will process US$ 1.5 million oil annually and produce 560 thousand tons of gasoline, 670 tons of diesel fuel, 107 thousand tons of liquefied petroleum gas and other products that meet the standards of Euro 4, 5. 

After establishment of the oil refinery, oil product import will be decreased by US$ 1 billion and currency outflow decreases by 20 percent, and the dollar by 18-25. GDP is expected to be risen by 10 percent while processing industry to be doubled.

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Development Bank of Mongolia and Sberbank of Russia sign MoU

Ulaanbaatar, December 15 (MONTSAME) On the sidelines of his official visit to the Russian Federation, Speaker M.Enkhbold handed Mongolian State Order – the Polar Star – to the leaders of the Moscow Power Engineering Institute on December 14.

The Russian institute has been awarded with the Polar Star order pursuant to a decree of the Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj, in recognition of its valuable contribution to training professional cadres for the Mongolian energy sector.

More than 300 Mongolians have graduated from the MPEI, some 20 of whom defended academic degrees and 150 received postgraduate training.

For this reason, the Polar Star order is being bestowed for the MPEI on occasion of the 95th jubilee of establishing diplomatic ties with Russia, explained Mr Enkhbold.

On the same day, the Development Bank of Mongolia and the SberBank of Russia inked a Memorandum of Understanding. The document was signed by B.Batbayar, the DB director, and A.Ivanov, Director of SberBank.

The Chairman of the State Great Khural, Mr M.Enkhbold is to meet V.A.Vasiliev, the Deputy Chairman of the State Duma and head of the United Russia faction in the State Duma, V.V.Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma, and V.I.Matviyenko, Chairwoman of the Federal Council.

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8 "Must Do's" to Keep your Mongolia Company Safe

December 15 (LehmanLaw) Every Mongolia company, foreign or domestic, is required to have a Company Seal, which takes the form of a simple stamp. These seals serve as the legal "signature" of the company for various documents and are officially registered with the government. When a seal is affixed to a contract the company will be legally bound to the terms of the contract.

While these seals can be a convenient way for a company to indicate acceptance of a contract, the nature of the system can allow misuse by unapproved parties, or misappropriation of the seal if not kept securely. Even a misused seal will legally bind the company.

Problems encountered due to misuse of seals include employees redrafting employment contracts and granting themselves increased salary or benefits, Employees using company seals to bind the company to expensive contracts with the employee's friends or relatives, or employees using seals to deposit company funds directly into the employee's foreign bank account.

Seals personally kept and under the control of individuals may also be subject to theft or simply refusal to cooperating in executing certain company policies. This can include, holding seals "hostage" and demanding a payout from the company, refusal to approve important business deals, leaving the company unable to take action. Employees holding seals may refuse to cooperate in providing the necessary seal for the employee's own termination from employment; or if terminated, an employee may continue to hold a company's seals and continue to carry out business in the company's name. In an extreme case, a terminated employee holding the companies seals may initiate lawsuits against the company itself, or against its trusted business partners sabotaging the relationship.

It is imperative for each company to establish clear systems for management of the company's seals, particularly where they are kept on premises. The following are recommended best practices.

1.    Company management should appoint persons authorized to approve use of each particular seal (such as a department manager, whether in Mongolia, or abroad), and clearly communicate these authorizations to all employees.

2.    Company management should appoint persons authorized to hold and use each particular seal, and clearly communicate these authorizations to all employees.

3.    An employee seeking to utilize a seal is required to first report the required use, and gain approval from the authorized personnel, and then report to the individual authorized to hold and use the seal to finally affix the seal on the document.

4.    Each individual authorized to hold a seal is to be required to maintain the seal safely and securely, and has the responsibility to prevent unauthorized use of the seal in their possession, or delivery to unauthorized personnel.

5.    When applying for use of a seal, the applicant shall file an application form or send an application email stating clearly the purpose of the required use of the seal and the nature of the documentation to be stamped.

6.    Each time the seal is used, the individual seeking use of the seal is required to sign their name, and mark the date to record the seal use.

7.    Each time a seal is used, the authorized holder is required to maintain the application and approval documentation in their possession, clearly filed along with scanned copies of each stamped document.

8.    Seals are not to be affixed to any blank or incomplete document.

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Hard Rock Cafe opens in Ulaanbaatar

December 15 ( ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA, 10 DECEMBER 2016 – Hard Rock Cafe is bringing the brand's one-of-a-kind blend of music, entertainment, iconic merchandise and authentic, American fare to Ulaanbaatar.

The 1,006 square-meter, will showcase Hard Rock's new design style and latest technology. Hard Rock Cafe Ulaanbaatar opened in the heart of the newly built Naran Place shopping mall and luxury residential complex, making it a must-see for both visitors and locals alike.

"Hard Rock has been looking forward to opening its first cafe in Mongolia, and we could not have asked for a better location than Ulaanbaatar to showcase our immersive dining experience," said Steve Yang, Area Vice President for Development & Franchise Operations Asia Pacific. "Ulaanbaatar is a rich and vibrant city that is perfect for Hard Rock Cafe, and we look forward to working with our new partners as we join this thriving and energetic community."

Hard Rock Cafe Ulaanbaatar is opening in a spacious, two-floor building that will be able accommodate up to 280 people. A charming spiral staircase leads up from the Rock Shop to the fabulous restaurant's main hall and will feature a luxurious lounge area and VIP booths able to seat eight to 16 people. The new cafe will also boast a vibrant bar and a live music stage that will feature the best in live music and entertainment from Mongolia and around the globe.

The cafe offers a unique look at the history and future of music, with an entirely new memorabilia collection from legendary and contemporary musicians from around the world, including clothing items from Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Lady Gaga; drum sticks from Metallica; a guitar from Foo Fighters; and autographs by John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, and more.

Guests of Hard Rock Cafe Ulaanbaatar can enjoy fresh, high-quality items from Hard Rock's menu, including a selection of fan-favorite Legendary Burgers™, each featuring unique toppings, savory sauces and rich, melted cheeses. Hard Rock's Smokehouse offerings utilize the very best Hickory wood chips to slowly cook its ribs, chicken and pork to juicy, tender perfection. In addition to its food, Hard Rock Cafe's extensive, award-winning drinks menu includes Hurricanes, Margaritas, signature favorites and Alternative Rock (alcohol-free) beverages, all available in Hard Rock's souvenir, collectible glassware.

The Ulaanbaatar cafe's Rock Shop will offer music-inspired items, as well as collectible Hard Rock Cafe merchandise. Ulaanbaatar-specific merchandise can only be purchased at this retail location, which offers an exclusive design quality that enhances each item's appeal. Fans may also shop for Hard Rock's much-coveted signature pins to add to their collection.

Since it was established in 1971, Hard Rock has been committed to a wide variety of philanthropic causes and activities around the world. In every Hard Rock city, the staff makes it a priority to become a valuable community partner, and Hard Rock Cafe Ulaanbaatar looks forward to continuing this tradition.

About Hard Rock International

With venues in 74 countries, including 172 cafes, 24 hotels and 11 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world's greatest collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise, Hard Rock Live performance venues and an award-winning website. HRI owns the global trademark for all Hard Rock brands. The company owns, operates and franchises Cafes in iconic cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Dubai. HRI also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel/casino properties worldwide. Destinations include the company's two most successful Hotel and Casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood, Fl., both owned and operated by HRI parent company The Seminole Tribe of Florida, as well as other exciting locations including Bali, Chicago, Cancun, Ibiza, Las Vegas, Macau and San Diego. Upcoming new Hard Rock Cafe locations include Valencia, Shanghai, Yangon and San Juan. New Hard Rock Hotel projects include Abu Dhabi, Atlanta, Berlin, Dubai, London, Los Cabos, New York City, and Shenzhen, Dalian and Haikou in China.

For more information on Hard Rock International, visit

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Mayor's Office and Mongolian Bankers Association to launch Green Credit Fund

December 15 (UB Post) The Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office and Mongolian Bankers' Association (MBA) met on December 12 to launch cooperation for achieving environmental and green development goals specified in the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's 2020 Action Plan.

City administrators, MBA executive director J.Unenbat, and Deputy Ulaanbaatar Mayor in charge of Green Development and Air Pollution J.Batbayasgalan exchanged information on MBA's Sustainable Finance Program, Green Certification Program initiated by the Ulaanbaatar Department of Environment and Green Development, and Curbing Environmental Pollution Foundation to be established by the Ulaanbaatar Air Quality Department.

Through the meeting, the two sides were able to discover an opportunity to carry out several environment and infrastructure projects in the capital with investment from international foundations that provide financial support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change. The Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office and MBA agreed to cooperate on establishing a Green Loan Fund and developing a green development criteria required for foreign financial support within 2017.

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Capital city will collect 524.1 billion revenue next year 

December 15 (Mongolian Economy) The City Citizens' Representative Khural assembled last Friday and approved the next year's budget. The budget was approved with total calculated at MNT 542.1 billion for 2017. If combined with district money that will go into the city budget, that number goes up to MNT 656.2 billion.

The total expenditure for the fiscal year of 2017 was approved at MNT 601.5 billion, and revenue to be transferred to the state budget at MNT 89.4 billion. In addition, the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold allocated MNT 13.7 billion for the infrastructural networks, roads design and blueprints for delayed ger district redevelopment construction works implementing between 2015-2017 in next year's budget amendment and 2018 draft budget.

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Mongolia to close two embassies, two consulates to save money

December 15 ( Mongolia is to close its embassies in Brazil and Indonesia. The reason is that very few Mongolian citizens live in these countries and a number of consular services can now be done online. In addition, the Mongolian consulates in Osaka, the second largest city in Japan and in the city of Hailar in China's Inner Mongolia are to close.

In total, only 27 Mongolians live in Brazil and a mere 25 in Indonesia. According to recent statics, Mongolian trade amounted to just over USD 2,000 with Brazil and USD 12,000 with Indonesia.

Mongolia will, however, establish a new consulate in Shanghai and   upgrade its consulate office into an embassy in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

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Chinese state media claims India is bribing Mongolia

December 15 (UB Post) On December 12, the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times stated that India was making an attempt to bribe Mongolia with a one billion USD loan, and that the efforts would be in vain.

Recently, Mongolian Ambassador to India G.Ganbold stated that Mongolia was seeking clear support from India against China's punitive response to a visit to Mongolia by the Dalai Lama. During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Mongolia in 2015, the dialogue for a one billion USD loan to Mongolia was started. The Global Times article stated, "India said last week it would help Mongolia use the one billion USD of aid offered in 2015 to overcome its current financial and economic crisis, after The Hindu reported Mongolia was seeking clear support from India 'against China's blockade'."

The article went on to say that China would not be overly sensitive about India's cooperation with Mongolia and won't mistake India's assistance as a move against China. The article highlighted Mongolia's economic dependence on China, noting, "Mongolia's economy is highly dependent on China, with more than 90 percent of its imports and exports traded directly with China, according to the website"

The article concluded with a subtle message to the Indian government, stating "As such, China's influence on Mongolia's economy cannot be replaced by India in the short run, and efforts will be in vain if India attempts to 'bribe' Mongolia's loyalty with only one billion USD."

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India's relations with Mongolia

Author: Barun Das Gupta

December 15 (Echo of India) Mongolia's relations with China have taken a hit after Ulan Bator stuck to its decision to welcome the Dalai Lama, insisting that the visit was 'purely religious in nature' and had nothing to do with politics. The Dalai Lama went to Mongolia on a four-day visit last month. China was dead opposed to the visit of the Buddhist holy leader and wanted Mongolia to 'scrap' the visit. As the unfazed Mongolian Government went ahead with the scheduled visit ignoring Beijing's frowns, China announced it was cancelling the scheduled bilateral talks for a number of soft loans and a number of industrial projects. As things stand, the prospect for the proposed China visit by the Mongolian Prime Minister Erdenebat Jargaltulga next year, is quite dim.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry called the Dalai Lama '"a political exile who has long been engaging in splitting China in the name of religion with the aim of alienating Tibet from China." It went a step ahead and said that Mongolia "should not provide any form of support and convenience to the Dalai Lama clique." That Mongolia refused to blink despite being heavily dependent on China reveals the extent of love and loyalty of the common Mongolian people that the religious leader commands. It also, highlights the fact that the Mongols dislike the Hans.

'Dislike' is a euphemism. Those who have visited Mongolia have come back with the impression that the Mongolians positively hate the Chinese.  Advertisements in local newspapers for jobs and room rentals often carry the caveat "No Chinese, please." In the eyes of the ordinary Mongolians, the Chinese are rude and extremely money-minded. They also resent the presence of migrant Chinese labourers who, they believe, are taking away their jobs. The Mongolian labourers are also paid very low wages.

Mongolia is economically very much dependent on its southern neighbor. China accounts for 89 per cent of Mongolia's exports and 26 per cent of its imports. China is playing a major role in the infrastructure development activities currently going on in Mongolia. When the Chinese cancelled the bilateral talks following the Dalai Lama's visit, the severely cash-strapped Mongolia was seeking a soft loan of $4.2 billion, besides financial and technical assistance on the Tavan-Tolgoi railway line, a coal-gas project and a copper plant.

Chinese economic assistance is of paramount importance to Mongolia now as it has been hit by a severe recession. The budget deficit this year is estimated to have doubled to $1 billion while the GDP has fallen by 1.6 per cent in the first nine months.

Coming back to the Dalai Lama again, this was the religious leader's eighth visit to Mongolia. The first took place in 1979.  On earlier visits also, Beijing reacted equally angrily. For example, in 2002, Beijing closed its borders with Mongolia. In 2006, it temporarily cancelled all flights to Ulan Bator. But despite Beijing's known hostility to the Dalai Lama, the latter holds indisputable sway over 53 per cent of Mongolian people who follow Tibetan Buddhism.  (About 38 per cent of the population does not profess any religion.)  An ethnic Mongolian from Siberia (Russia) travelled along with forty others for fifteen hours just to have a glimpse of the Dalai Lama.

Of late, Beijing has been putting pressure on Nepal for preventing Tibetan pilgrims from entering India. Late last month, the Nepal police detained about 40 Tibetans at Dhangadi, ten kms from Indo-Nepal border. The pilgrims were on their way to attend the Kalachakra teaching session that will be held at Bodh Gaya in Bihar from January 3 to 14 next year. The Dalai Lama will deliver the sermon.  With this year's Kalachakra nearing, the local Chinese authorities in Tibet are showing extreme unwillingness to issue valid passports to Tibetans lest they should travel to India. Some who have already crossed over to Nepal or India have been asked to return by December 20.

Mongolia is a vast country with an area of 15.66 lakh sq. kms and a very small population of 31.81 lakh which works out to a population density of just 1.97 per sq. km. At present brisk development activities are going on in Mongolia in which many developed countries are taking part. In May last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mongolia and announced a credit line of one billion dollars besides signing fourteen treaties covering a wide range of fields from defence to agriculture.

If Beijing's frosty relations with Mongolia over the Dalai Lama visit continue, it would offer an opportunity to India to forge closer ties with Mongolia which is a land-locked country sandwiched between Russia on the north and China in the south. Mongolia is endowed with rich mineral resources. India and Mongolia can cooperate in developing these resources to mutual benefit.

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Leaders of Mongolian and Russian ruling parties to meet in Moscow

Ulaanbaatar, December 15 (MONTSAME) Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia and Chairman of the ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP) M.Enkhbold arrived in Moscow on December 14 to pay an official visit.

He started the visit with a meeting with the representatives of the United Russia political party. Mr Enkhbold was welcomed by Boris Gryzlov, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of United Russia. The sides touched upon the matters of cooperation between the two political parties.

At the very beginning, Mr Gryzlov highlighted that Mongolia and the Mongolian people, who are close neighbors that share a long history of friendship and cooperation with Russia, are deeply respected. "The government and people of Russia never forget that the people of Mongolia has remained trusted friends and helped in the harshest times of World War II. We manifested such a respect by inviting the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj to the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory in the WWII", he underlined.

He also noted that the both sides share interests for prosperity, enhancing our economic potential and upgrading bilateral relations and cooperation, and added that the cooperation of two parties and inter-parliamentary collaboration play an important role in achieving these goals.

In the spirit of neighbors bonds, more than 30 projects covering a wide range of spheres, such as road, transport, energy and communication, are incorporated in an agreement on establishing Russia-Mongolia-China Economic Corridor, continued Mr Gryzlov. The ruling powers of both countries, the United Russia and the Mongolian People's Party, should pay a particular attention to delivery of the above mentioned projects, he noted. Also, he added, the trade turnover needs to be increased from the dissatisfying amount of only USD 1.1 billion as of the previous year. However, the bilateral trade turnover exceeds six times that for 2000, said Mr Gryzlov.

The latter noted the United Russia has secured 343 seats in the State Duma out of the total 450 seats, after the elections held in September, and congratulated the MPP on an absolute victory in the last parliamentary elections. Political support is significant for broadening economic ties, he said and expressed his confidence that the two parties will accomplish much in this direction.

Speaker of Mongolian Parliament and MPP Chairman M.Enkhbold extended congratulations to Mr Gryzlov on the United Russia's victory in the elections. He highlighted that the signing of the document after this meeting will be an important mark in the cooperation of two parties. "I paid a visit to Russia in January, when we have finalized the 'great debt', which brought a fresh air in bilateral business and economic relations", he said.

Mr Enkhbold applauded Mr Gryzlov's opinion on putting more focus on achieving tangible results from the negotiations between the three neighboring countries. Mentioning that the parties to the agreement have concerted to establish the Economic Corridor Think Tank in Ulaanbaatar, the Speaker expressed hope that the Russian side would render assistance.

He went on emphasizing an importance of promoting the youth and women's NGOs of the parties. The youth union of our party has launched cooperation with the Molodaya Gvardiya, the youth institution under the United Russia. This is a brilliant start, he underlined and put forward a proposal on exchange of professionals and learning practices of the United Russia.

"It is vital for our two countries and strategic partners, who have rich tradition of cooperation, to exploit all unexplored potential of cooperation in order to upgrade the cooperation between the legislatures and businesses. I think that the two parties should play the key roles in accomplishing this", said Mr Enkhbold.

The Deputy Secretary of the Supreme Council of the United Russia, Mr S.V.Jeleznyak and the head of the State Great Khural's Standing Committee on State Structure, Mr N.Enkhbold gave addresses to the meeting, expressing their positions and views about the cooperation between political parties.

After this, the Chairmen of the two parties signed a cooperation document.

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Culture & Society

Church Multiplication in Mongolia

December 15 (Asian Access) The church in Mongolia is growing rapidly, mostly due to church planting. When I arrived in 2000, the pastors were a divided and competitive lot. Each was hoping to build a mega-church.

My first trip was a tug-of-war for four out of five days. Out of 25 pastors, three were former Soviet Army officers. Two of them loved communism while the other hated it. The real struggle, though, was against level 3 megachurches. Everyone in the room clamored to pastor the largest church in the nation. After four days of arguing, they finally got the message about making disciples and multiplying churches. Every pastor in that group planted multiple churches in the next 12 months.

Watch a video of one of those pastors describing current conditions in Mongolia...

They got the message that we need more churches if we intend to saturate a nation with the gospel. By 2010, more than two percent of the population accepted Christ. They goal is to reach five percent by 2020.

This can only be done by the multiplication of churches. For this we need a new generation of pastors and for that the country needs to make disciples. This makes the book a useful tool.


The history of Christianity in Mongolia began centuries ago. Genghis Khan and his descendants conquered Asia from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea. Several of the Khans also embraced Nestorian Christianity in the 13th century. Christians eventually lost influence when one of Genghis Khan's descendants embraced Islam. After that, Buddhism rose to prominence.

The church continued to operate in the corners of the country until the arrival of the Soviets in the early part of the 20th century.

The Soviets were equal opportunity persecutors, they killed many Christian leaders along with more than 20,000 Buddhist priests.

By 1989 when Russia abandoned the country it was left in deep poverty and there were just five known Christians.

When I arrived eleven years later American and European missionaries had made inroads, but there was disunity and extreme competition among churches.

Pulling Together

Today, the Mongolian Christians are responsible for their own future as the initial wave of missionaries have now retired or otherwise departed. There is great unity among various denominations and doctrinal positions. It is amazing to watch the transformation from just a few years ago. Meanwhile, the government now actively supports Buddhism and has pushed Christianity to the sidelines through a series of laws impinging on religious freedom. However, this actually backfires, promoting Christian unity and a strong emphasis on evangelism.

The church operates marginally underground. All this while 2 of the 3 million people in the country (two-thirds of the entire population) have moved into the capital city, Ulanbaataar. This mass migration sets the stage for an outbreak of the gospel, for whenever the church has gone underground and focused on making disciples in small groups the growth has been spontaneous and rapid. The conditions are ripe for the church to flourish along the lines of the earliest Christians in the Book of Acts.

Making Disciples And Multiplying Churches

Pastors in Mongolia have embraced level 4 and 5 reproductive and multiplication church planting this is the key to their recent success. The Christian population in that country is now one of the fastest growing in the world. (See a video describing church multiplication in Mongolia.)

Please pray for these brave, often poor, people as they endeavor to bring a couple of million people to heaven with them. I've written more about what I've been up to in Mongolia for sixteen years. If this interests you, click to discover how you can help us translate and publish disciple-making books designed to help Mongolian pastors train more church planters.

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Nature & Environment

ACMS Speaker Series - Unudelgerekh Batkhuu, Mongol Ecology Center

Tuesday, December 20, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar

How NGOs can spur on environmental movements: The experience of the Mongol Ecology Center in building collaborative bridges around the world

With the rising commodity prices and increasing interests of foreign investors, mining development in Mongolia took the momentum in mid 2000s. Economic development through the extractive mining industry became a reality, albeit not without unwanted negative impacts and unsustainable use of natural resources. In 2009, Mongol Ecology Center NGO was established with a vision to preserve Mongolia's most valued natural and cultural heritage by introducing the best international practice of a national system of parks and protected areas. In the age of technological advancements, global awareness and knowledge of the protected areas and other special places throughout the world is important because global knowledge is directly related to local protection. We realize the importance of cultivating partnerships between individual people, governments and between public and private sectors. Through our funders, park experts, scientists, rangers, photographers, journalists, volunteers, local community members and various partner organizations, MEC has built partnerships around the world. In this talk, we will be sharing our story of how MEC has and continues to build more awareness and global knowledge of Mongolian protected areas through our partnerships.

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First national forest inventory conducted in 40 years

December 15 (UB Post) The Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism has completed the REDD+ National Forest Inventory in Mongolia project with Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The results of the project were presented to members of Parliament and Cabinet, forestry specialists, and the press on December 13, at Shangri-La Hotel.

Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol presented opening remarks, underlining that Mongolia was able to conduct its first national forest inventory in 40 years. The minister added that Mongolia is a partner country of the United Nations' collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), and that one of the essential requirements for partner countries is a national forest monitoring system to collect basic data for the conservation and sustainable management of forest resources. The data collected in the GIZ-assisted program will also improve Mongolia's forest-related climate change reporting for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"This extensive forest inventory conducted for the first time in 40 years is very significant, because when we report to the UNFCCC, it opens up opportunities for Mongolia to receive financial support from international projects and programs and to participate in carbon credit trading. It's also highly significant in achieving the goals of the National Forest Policy, which aims to use technical and policy-based models for sustainable and low-carbon forest management adapted to climate change," Minister D.Oyunkhorol noted.

The National Forest Inventory, which started in 2012, states that 12 million hectares of Mongolia's total land is covered in forest, which was roughly the same area recorded in 2011 through a small-scale forest inventory. The study estimates that there are approximately five billion trees in Mongolia, and that although 3,025 saplings are growing on each hectare of Mongolia's forests, most of them have been damaged by insect infestation, fire, or drought. In particular, the inventory's data indicates that 18.6 percent of trees in Mongolia have been affected by fire, while a total of nine million square meters of trees have been infested with insects.

Ministry and forestry officials stressed the need to protect Mongolia's forests and to grow new young and healthy trees nationwide.

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Paleoseismology field trip at the International Conference on Astronomy & Geophysics in Mongolia, 2017

December 15 (Paleoseismicity) This meeting in Mongolia will include a very nice paleoseismological field trip! This is the conference website: and here is the announcement:

The Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (IAG) of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences invites colleagues, geoscientists, researchers, and international experts from around the world to attend the "The International Conference on Astronomy & Geophysics in Mongolia, 2017" and we hope that you enjoy the scientific program and field-excursion, as well as the hospitality in capital Ulaanbaatar and field-excursions!
The conference will have two sections. The main section will be held in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, between 20 and 22 July of 2017 including the celebration of 60th anniversary of IAG, plenary session, oral and poster sessions. The field section "Field-excursion to Mogod co-seismic fault rupture area" (1967/01/05, Mw=7.1) will be held at Mogod soum of Bulgan province, Mongolia between 23 and 26 July, 2017.

During the main section, there will be the celebration of 60th anniversary of establishment of IAG. We celebrate the year of 1957 as a year of the establishment of astronomical and geophysical science in Mongolia, when the first seismic station and construction of first astronomical observatory at Hureltogoot site, Ulaanbaatar, was installed by the decision of the Government of Mongolia. This strategically important, wise and courageous initiative was a valuable contribution to the International science campaign organized around the world in frame of The Year of Geophysics announced by United Nations in 1957.
Our Institute, as a unique organization in Mongolia specialized in the research field of Astronomy and Geophysics. Also, the year of 1957 is a memorable year because of the great Gobi-Altay earthquake (1957/12/04, Mw=8.0). We are sure that many of you remember our 1st International conference in 2007 at Ulaanbaatar dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Research Center of Astronomy and Geophysics of Mongolian Academy of Sciences (our Institute's former name) and the conference of commemorating 50 years of Gobi-Altay earthquake with the field trip along the Gobi Altay fault.
"The second International Conference on Astronomy & Geophysics in Mongolia" in Ulaanbaatar and the "Field-excursion to Mogod active fault area" will reinforce international cooperation between participants and with Mongolian scientists.

We have great pleasure to welcome you to Mongolia for this Conference and we trust that you will enjoy it. We are looking forward to a successful meeting with fruitful discussions and sustainable networking for the future all over the world. Please see call-proposal-sessions as follows:

Astronomy Session:

  • A.1: Astronomy, astrophysics and space science

Geophysical Sessions: The case of Central Asia and intra-continental regions

  • S.1: Seismicity
  • S.2: Large intra-continental earthquakes: Source characteristics, surface ruptures, paleoseismology, deep structure
  • S.3: Crustal and lithosphere structures.
  • S.4: Attenuation/Ground motion and site effects.
  • S.5: Active deformation and seismic hazard assessment
  • G.1: Geomagnetism

We organize a sightseeing field-excursion to the highly preserved surface ruptures of the Mogod earthquakes (M7.1, 1967) and place of paleoseismological new investigation. The accommodation will be in the field campus, which allow you enjoying Mongolian untouched nature. We will also visit the historic place of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape.
Detailed information will be provided later on.
Welcome to "The International Conference on Astronomy & Geophysics in Mongolia".
We look forward to seeing you in Ulaanbaatar.

Yours sincerely,
DEMBEREL S, Director of IAG, MAS

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Winners of MFF Golden Ball 2016 Announced

December 15 (UB Post) The Mongolian Football Federation's Golden Ball award ceremony took place at Shangri-La Hotel on December 12. The Golden Ball awards are presented to the top football players and coaches of the year.

Winners were selected in the categories of the Best Coach of the Year, Best Coach of the Women's Team of the Year, Best Male Player of the Year, Best Female Player of the Year, Best Referee of the Year, and Best Goal of the Year.

The winners were selected through the votes of national team coaches and sports journalists.

President of the Mongolian Football Federation A.Ganbaatar opened the ceremony and said, "The reputation of the Mongolian Football Federation is increasing internationally. Football in Mongolia is shining right now."

Forward of Khangarid FC O.Mijiddorj, 26, won the Best Male Player of the Year prize. O.Mijiddorj hasn't passed any matches during the Khurkhree National League 2016, and scored 29 goals in total. He won the best forward award of the Khurkhree National League 2016.

Upon receiving the prize, O.Mijiddorj said, "I am very happy. I prepared well for the Khurkhree National League 2016. I think that's why I was nominated for the Golden Ball 2016. I scored 29 goals during Khurkhree and topped the list for forwards. Thank you all."

Captain of Arvis FC A.Altantuya became the Best Female Player of the Year. Arvis FC won the Women's National Football League Tournament 2016.

Coach of Arvis FC L.Banzragch was named the Best Coach of the Women's Team of the Year and coach of Erchim FC Z.Battulga won the Best Coach of the Year award.

D.Turbat of Khoromkhon FC won the Best Goal of the Year prize.

The Best Referee of the Year prize went to Ch.Javkhlantugs, who is a first class referee of the Mongolian Football Federation and referee at FIFA.

Dornod Football Federation won the Mongolian Football Federation President's Prize.

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Art & Entertainment

The Eagle Huntress review – feathery documentary needs sharper claws

A great subject – a Kazakh teenager who wants to defy gender stereotypes and hunt with eagles – results in a heartwarming but unsurprising, risk-free film

December 15 (The Guardian) The Eagle Huntress is a documentary that has won golden opinions on the festival circuit, about a bright teenage Kazakh girl called Aisholpan who breaks with tradition to hunt with an eagles – a traditional art generally pursued by boys, so that her talent is much frowned upon by grumpy older menfolk.

Being an eagle huntress (the film a little superciliously insists on that "-ess" suffix) involves stealing a three-month-old eaglet from its nest, training it, hunting with it, then letting it go after seven years.

This is a very nicely filmed piece of work. Aisholpan is very personable, and there are some eagle-vs-prey scenes that could go into Planet Earth II. Michael Morpurgo could write a children's novel about it, from the eagle's point of view. But it's a documentary with no surprises, no challenges, nothing to startle or upset you. It requires of you nothing but the risk-free liberalism necessary for endorsing the idea of gender-neutral eagle hunting in Asia. It sometimes feels like a beakless, clawless Kes. You naturally know what you are supposed to think about Aisholpan being an eagle huntress, you naturally know whether she is going to win a local competition and go on to prove herself in the wintry mountains. It's a film that comes with a sealed and laminated happy ending. Well, Aisholpan has found her vocation: good for her.

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Why Star Wars's Daisy Ridley joined forces with a teenage Mongolian girlBBC News, December 16

The Eagle Huntress review — 'Strange and far-flung'Financial Times, December 15

Film Review: The Eagle HuntressThe Times, December 15

The Eagle Huntress review: bird-brained documentary soars thanks to its charming starThe Telegraph, December 16

A young girl's charming flight of fancy: The Eagle Huntress is a documentary that soarsDaily Mail, December 16

Review: Feminist falconry film The Eagle Huntress doesn't quite flyEastern Daily Press, December 15

Cinematique Presents: "The Eagle Huntress"WHQR, December 15

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Great Escape: Mongolia's Altai Kazakh Eagle Hunters Festival

By Debbie Pappyn 

December 15 (The Telegraph) "Welcome to Bayan-Ölgii," says Canat, "a strong country, for and with strong people." Our host and the organiser of the Altai Kazakh Eagle Festival - the reason for our visit - he knows the region better than most. We are in a remote stretch of western Mongolia, about 45 miles from the Russian border, and surrounded by a barren but impressive mountain range, lightly sprinkled with snow.

A 2.5hr-flight from Ulaanbataar this is the Far West of Mongolia. The festival is typically only attended by 100 or so foreigners each year, but this may soon change. The newly released film The Eagle Huntress is providing international audiences with unprecedented insight into these people's customs and celebrations. 

In itself Bayan-Ölgii may not warrant a special trip, but a half-hour drive from the capital Ölgii is the Sagsai region, where this distinctive festival takes place.

The surrounding area is home to the remarkable Kazakh eagle hunters, or berkutchi, who live in simple houses or well-insulated gers, scattered across the valley and specially built to endure heavy snow. More than 100 will take their trained golden eagles to the competition.

The birds are usually taken from their nests as chicks to be trained. Western animal lovers might protest about the practice, but try arguing the point with a proud Kazakh whose ancestors have been doing it for centuries. A golden eagle lives in 'captivity' for approximately 40 years. The hunter grows old with his bird.

In comparison to Mongolia's Naadam Festival (a major festival focused on archery, wrestling and horseracing that takes place in July), the Altai Kazakh Eagle Festival draws a small attendance - Canat tells us that about 1,000 locals descend from various regions of the Sagsai Valley for the event.

We wait alongside them as 50 competing eagle hunters ride in, with the snow-capped Altai Mountains their backdrop; the sight gives us goosebumps.

The spotlight is firmly aimed at the hunters who have their eagles complete tasks, such as flying down from the mountain to land on their arms, but there's more to see. Additional events include a camel race, exercises on horseback to pick up objects from the ground, and a slightly less animal-friendly activity involving a dead goat.

Wrapped in layers of Gore-Tex and high-tech down jackets, we shiver and shake from the sidelines as strong winds blow fast and intensely cold across the steppe, disturbing the freshly fallen snow.

The hunters don't even blink, warmly dressed as they are in fox and wolf skins. Because a strong eagle not only catches small animals but also larger prey, the more extravagant the jacket and fierce the animal that provided its pelt, the more respected the hunter.

Canat teaches us more about the life of berkutchi. It's always the female eagles that go out hunting, and it's believed that the strongest birds are those that are caught in the wild rather than those taken from their nests, who are quieter, friendlier and tamer. The most ferocious birds can easily take on a wolf; it's even said that some eagles can overpower a snow leopard.

We learn too that the berkutchi need only three things in life: a fast horse, a faithful dog to guard the house, and an eagle. And this has been the case for centuries, a custom that has been passed down from father to son for 6,000 years. The festival is a thrilling, privileged insight into millennia of tradition.

With such a rare opportunity to observe the habits of the berkutchi, we investigate whether it's possible to mount a tiny camera on the back of an eagle to see things from the bird's perspective.

We check with experts from the Denver Zoo Foundation in Mongolia about whether it is possible to do so without hindering or interfering with the bird. They confirm that it should be no problem, as long as we respect certain rules.

With the help of Urnaa, our concierge at the Kempinski hotel in Ulaanbaatar, we enlist a seamstress to make a eagle-sized harness on which to attach a tiny camera. Seventy-eight year old Oral allows us to film a flight taken by his serene, agreeable four-year-old eagle.

Having reached a suitably beautiful location on horseback, we carefully attach the harness. The bird waits high up on a mountain as Oral stands in the distance. A call from its trainer is all it takes to make the bird fly a considerable distance across the steppe and towards his voice, at a speed of approximately 125 miles an hour.

Our camera catches the flight and the eagle's return to her perch on Oral's arm. It's a remarkable display of the ancient connection between man and animal, deep in the wilds of outer Mongolia.

How to visit

We travelled to Mongolia with Nomadic Journeys, a reliable Mongolian travel expert company offering unique trips to the country. Excluding domestic flights, a three-day visit to the festival should cost about €350 per person. The Kazakh Eagle Festival takes places every September.

We flew from Beijing to Ulaanbataar with Air China. Return tickets from £250. Etihad Airways flies several times a week from London to Beijing, with business-class fares from £2200.

Turkish Airlines flies to Ulaanbaatar via Istanbul, with flights from £700. The best hotel in Ulaanbaatar is the Kempinski Khan Palace Ulaanbaatar. Expect excellent service and varied dining options, including Japanese and Italian options. From £120 per night.

Journalist Debbie Pappyn and photographer David De Vleeschauwer venture tirelessly to the most beautiful corners of the world. Having already visited over 100 countries, they take an average of 100 flights a year and regularly write about their adventures for Telegraph Luxury and other prestigious publications internationally. The couple's own, award-winning website Classe Touriste is a visual chronicle of those global adventures.

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Taking holiday snaps to another level: Bayankhongor one of winning images of Travel Photographer of the Year awards

  • Photographers from 123 countries entered annual competition with winners hailing from 20 countries
  • Winning images spanned categories including cities and architecture, people and culture and wildlife 
  • Overall Travel Photographer of the Year in 14th year of the contest was Portuguese talent Joel Santos 

December 15 (Daily Mail) From a snow-streaked Manhattan street to a donkey caravan snaking across Ethiopia's desert – the breath-taking winning entries of the Travel Photographer of the Year 2016 (TPOTY) competition have been revealed.

They were taken by photographers hailing from 20 countries including India, the US and China in categories spanning cities and architecture, people and culture, wildlife and nature.

With his diverse portfolio entered into the Land, Sea, Sky and Journeys & Adventures categories, Portuguese photographer Joel Santos took the crown as overall Travel Photographer of the Year. His staggering work includes a dramatic shot of Ethiopia's lava-spewing Gateway to Hell and candid snaps of a Ghanaian fisherman at work.

Self-taught 14-year-old photographer Darpan Basak was named Young Travel Photographer of the year for his vibrant depiction of the excitement of fishing in India. Judges commended his storytelling prowess.

Other spell-binding winners include Ruiyuan Chen's powerful portraits of ethnic Yi people from China's Daliang mountains, which won the Mankind category, and a tender series of fox images on a windswept New Jersey beach by Courtney Moore, who won the 15 to 18-year-old Places and Experiences category.

Shutterbugs from over 123 countries entered the prestigious annual contest and the winning images can be seen at TPOTY exhibitions at the UK City of Culture Celebrations in Hull, from May to June 2017, and at the University of Greenwich, London, from August to September, 2017.

Professional photographer Beniamino Pisati won the award for his Journeys & Adventures portfolio taken in Bayankhongor, Mongolia. Judges commented: 'Shot from a viewpoint which draws the viewer into the heart of the action, these beautifully lit photographs of the people and horses of Bayankhongor in Mongolia are dynamic and engaging. Full of action, the viewer has a real sense of being part of the experience'

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Joel Santos just won "Travel Photographer of the Year 2016"

Navigate the Snowy Landscapes of Mongolia with This Reindeer Herding Family





December 15 (Barcroft TV) Photographer Joel Santos dived 1000km into the depths of Northern Mongolia to visit the Ganbaa family near Khovsgol Lake.

Despite only being able to spend three days in the Tsaatan family's camp, Santos travelled for four days to reach them - three driving and one on horseback - before repeating the epic journey to return home.

He said: "It was extremely tough, but not scary, since I take real pleasure in exploring and venturing off the beaten track as much as I can.

"I actively put myself in those kinds of situations and escape from the routine that my overly organised life becomes as soon as I get out of my office.

"But of course, the extreme cold, being soaking wet, having my boots stuck knee level with mud, having no cell coverage, carrying all the gear and work with it in this context is demanding, very demanding."

Travelling with a guide and interpreter from Mörön, Mongolia and a Portuguese fellow photographer, Joel met the Ganbaa family, led by Purev who lives in the same camp as Buyantogtokh, a widowed reindeer herder.

From the age of two, Tsaatan reindeer are trained to carry children and at three they are able to carry adults.

In the small Tsaatan community - called the Zyyn taiga community, meaning East Taiga - four couples live together alongside their children and grandchildren in a handful of teepees, which are heated using reindeer dung and iron ovens.

Two main communities live and herd in the area, the other is known as West Taiga and they keep over 1000 reindeer, while the East Taiga people keep roughly 500.

The two communities maintain a close relationship and frequently travel on horseback or on reindeer to visit each other.

Santos said: "Despite having easier access to horses than they did in Russia, they still prefer the reindeer and have an extremely close connection with them.

"I've interacted both with horses and reindeer and the latter almost behave like a dog, in the sense that they are extremely docile, they smell your hands out of curiosity, they even lick them, always in a gentle way."

Joel has been documenting the lives of nomadic Mongolians since June 2015 when he followed the Kazakh migration, before returning in September 2016 to follow another migrating family and discover the remote lives of the Tsaatan.

The Tsaatan people originally lived in the Autonomous Republic of Tuva in Russia but they fled to Mongolia in 1940 to escape the Russian Army's recruitment for World War II.

Joel said: "I mean, on the way to the Tsaatans we got the worst weather possible — heavy rain, wind, cold, mud, you name it — and I thought that the whole experience would be ruined.

"Nevertheless, as we were getting closer and closer, the temperature got even lower and the rain became the first snowfall of the year in that region.

"And, all of the sudden, as we rode the horses to get to the Tsaatan family, the snow looked like a magical and enchanted Christmas tale."

In recent years, strict hunting regulations have been introduced, making large patches of the Tsaatan's homeland useless to them, as they rely heavily on hunting to survive.

Joel said: "The world is changing rather quickly and most of the ancestral traditions, culture and people are fading away or changing into completely new social paradigms.

"The nomadic families still exist but, as we know from European history, it's likely that they'll be incredibly more difficult to subsist, due to changes in laws, economic pressures, and foreign acculturation.

"All together that makes this whole experience feel like time travelling and I know deep in my heart that these experiences are extremely rare, from which we can learn many things, as human beings, that we can no longer learn from our western schools and life patterns."

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