Friday, January 13, 2017

[KCC likened to OT; ERD finds bigger zone; MATD on track to drill; GoM coupons reach 18%; and air pollution declared a disaster]

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Friday, January 13, 2017

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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

·         Latest test results liken Kincora's copper prospect to Oyu Tolgoi

·         Erdene new gold zone at Mongolia Bayan Khundii project larger than expected

·         Petro Matad on track for 2017 drilling but it still waits on Shell exit payment

·         Petro Matad Notes Share Price Move, Says No Further Update

·         'Erdenet-Ovoot' railway route to be defined

·         Entree Gold Closes First Tranche of Over-Subscribed $7.6 Million Financing

Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report, Jan 12: Top 20 -0.43%, ALL -0.28%, Turnover ₮11.8 Million Shares

·         ₮3.5 billion 39-week t-bills issued at 16.99% via MSE

·         Primary Trading Schedule of Government Securities on MSE, January-February

·         APU Most Traded Stock in 2016, Standard Property Group Most Risen

·         42 out 58 Securities Companies Registered on MSE Have Trading Permits


·         MNT gains for 2 days vs USD, sets new low against CAD

·         BoM issues ₮118 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -6.1% to ₮230.35 billion

·         BoM sells US$2.5m at ₮2,496, CNY8m at ₮359.26, accepts $5m USD swap offers

·         GoM sells ₮25 billion 28-week t-bills at 17.68% discount from announced ₮35 billion

·         GoM sells ₮2.5 billion 2-year bonds with 18% coupon from announced ₮5 billion

·         World Bank predicts 2% growth for Mongolia in 2017

·         METALS-Shanghai copper steady as LME fails to open

·         The enormous coking coal price rally of last year is starting to unwind

·         Shanghai rebar, Dalian iron ore hit fresh multi-week highs

·         Gold Surges Above $1,200 as Details-Shy Trump Weighing on Dollar

·         Oil rises about 2 percent on supply cuts, record China demand forecast

Politics & Legal

·         Mongolia toughens punishment for corruption

·         Auditor General of Mongolia appointed

·         New Mongolian Military Intelligence Chief appointed

·         January 13 to mark 25th anniversary of Constitution of Mongolia

·         The Secret Supports of Mongolian Democracy

·         National Anti-Corruption Forum takes place

·         American man arrested after bomb threat

·         Do we need new constitutional amendments now?


·         TT East Tsankhi coal to be sold for $59.3 a ton

·         Alexander Mining boosted by Mongolian marketing agreement

·         Mongolia capable of exporting 107 thousand tons of meat

·         Mongolia moves forward with casino plans

·         Child-centred corporate social responsibility


·         Air pollution of Ulaanbaatar declared as state of disaster by NSC

·         Parents redemonstrate against air pollution on Jan 28

·         President of Mongolia delivers guidance in fighting air pollution

·         ALERT: Mongolian air pollution kills 120 children annually

·         Mongolia bans migration to capital to reduce smog

·         Capital Mayor issues ordinances to tackle air pollution

·         Soft loans to be granted for purchase of electric heating devices

·         Prime Minister meets with electric heater retailers and ger district residents

·         Air pollution reduction strategies to be formulated after NSC recommendation

·         New Mongolian mask filters through activated charcoal

·         We can't stand it anymore

·         Public voices resulting in efficient actions against air pollution

·         Putting a magnifying glass on air pollution

·         Monuments of Ulaanbaatar city wearing masks

·         Vehicle tax collection underway


·         What are the returns from RM240m investment in Mongolia?

·         Exploring Mongolia's balancing behaviour

·         Parliament Foreign Policy Committee meets US Ambassador

·         Foreign Minister meets Millennium Challenge Corporation delegates

·         Mongolia and UK to cooperate in agricultural industry

·         Cuban Ambassador to Mongolia is received by Minister of Foreign Affairs

·         Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia welcomes the Cuban Ambassador

·         Cuba providing medical scholarships to two Mongolian students every year since 1994

·         Taiwanese Representative Office presents books to Mongolian library

·         Khusugtun to perform in Brazil on January 19

·         Amb. to Russia B.Delgermaa: Our people share a warm atmosphere and lively interaction

Health & Education

·         No case of mother-to-child transmission of HIV registered in Mongolia

·         Local medical facilities to receive ambulances

·         Health Ministry to focus on medical postgraduate training

·         Thoughts and Comments on Organic Mongolia

·         2017 ACMS Mongolia fellowship opportunities

Culture & Society

·         Secret History of the Mongols to promote Mongolia

·         'Mongol Naadam Complex' to cooperate with UNESCO

·         Camel herders' festival organized

Nature & Environment

·         Traditional Mongolian herder families endure another severe winter

·         Urgent actions planned to improve wintering situations for herders

·         UNFPA preserves dignity first for women and girls affected by the near dzud

·         Snow Blankets Northern Mongolia

·         Western Mongolia to be prevented from land degradation

·         Environment Ministry to cooperate with NGOs

·         Scholars' research works discussed at UNESCO international conference

·         Hundreds of endangered saiga antelopes die from disease in Mongolia

·         2016 archaeological findings introduced

·         Mongolia makes moves to shut down fossil black market


·         Mountaineer B.Gangaamaa says every mountain is her 'teacher'

·         Kisenosato, Hakuho among unbeatens

·         MP D.Sumiyabazar to head Mongolian Wrestling Federation

·         Weightlifter B.Tungalag brims with passion for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Art & Entertainment

·         This Mongolian electrician sings EXACTLY like Elvis and just won this year's Mongolia's Got Talent

·         'The Eagle Huntress' World Press Tour Could Be Its Own Documentary

·         "The Sun Foal" painting exhibition opens

·         'Mind One' rings in the new year at Art Mongolia Gallery


·         State Commission extends inspection of new UB airport




Int'l Market

KCC up 10.59% since announcement to C$0.47

Latest test results liken Kincora's copper prospect to Oyu Tolgoi

Kincora's East TS target had long been thought to share similarities with the nearby Oyu Tolgoi deposit

January 10 (Proactive Investors) The latest round of testing at Kincora Copper Ltd's (CVE:KCC) East Tsagaan Suvarga (East TS) target has confirmed that the prospect shares similar characteristics with one of the largest porphyries in the world.

It had long been thought that the East TS copper target in Mongolia shared similarities with the nearby Oyu Tolgoi deposit, with the results of recent age dating and fertility discrimination analysis confirming this.

"New analysis undertaken last field season has shown Tsagaan Suvarga can be classified as a Devonian quartz monzodiorite system, essentially identical to the high-grade orebodies at Oyu Tolgoi, and our East TS target is part of this suite," said President and chief executive Sam Spring.

"This further supports East TS as a priority target area and has important implications to future regional exploration."

Kincora also told investors that it is in the process of finalising its plans for the upcoming field season.

Mongolia's South Gobi desert – where the East ST sits – is generally recognised as one of the last underexplored copper frontiers in the world and is within trucking distance of the world's largest copper consumer – China.

Link to article

Link to KCC release

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ERD unchanged since announce at C$0.86

Erdene new gold zone at Mongolia Bayan Khundii project larger than expected

January 10 ( Canada's Erdene Resource (TSX:ERD), one of the very few miners to never have encountered issues in Mongolia, unveiled Tuesday results for nine diamond drill holes from its step-out program at Bayan Khundii gold project, which shows a discovery made in October is larger than originally thought.

The project, now Erdene's flagship venture, has grown to prominence in the past 18 months. The company has held a variety of mineral interests in Mongolia, but leaned towards gold once Bayan Khundii came into the picture.

Before that, the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based miner had been advancing its Altan Nar project(meaning Golden Sun).

Today results show a new gold zone (Midfield) discovered in October under younger cover, includes some of the highest grades and the longest mineralized intervals intersected to date, the firm said.

Other highlights from the press release:

·         Gold mineralization at Midfield includes some of the highest grades and the longest mineralized intervals intersected to date including:

o    149 metres of 2.1 g/t gold from 23 metres depth, including 41 metres of 5.2 g/t gold and 15 metres of 6.5 g/t gold (BKD-90)

o    72 metres of 4.0 g/t gold from 108 metres depth (BKD-92)

o    16 metres of 3.9 g/t gold from 19 metres depth and 40 meters of 1.0 g/t gold from 106 metres depth (BKD-95)

·         All step-out confirmation holes intersected gold mineralization with visible gold observed in six of the eight holes, establishing lateral continuity of the new mineralized Midfield Zone in all directions.

·         Geophysical surveys indicate alteration zones that host gold mineralization at Midfield extend under cover along the 1.7 kilometre north-northeast trend.

·         2017 exploration drill program now being designed to test additional target areas.

Peter Akerley, Erdene's President and chief executive said the company would launch this year a resource drilling program, complimented by an extensive exploration scheme designed to expand the known areas of gold mineralization at Bayan Khundii as well as our other targets in the district including Altan Nar.

Mongolia's mineral wealth drew several firms in the past two decades as it opened up to investment. The main attraction has always been the country's riches — vast deposits of copper, coal and iron ore— as well as its proximity to China, the world's biggest buyer of the minerals.

The enthusiasm peaked in 2011 when the land-locked nation's economy grew 17% or the fastest pace on the planet. It's been downhill since.

Link to article

Link to ERD release

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MATD jumped +22.97% on Thursday to 11.38p

Petro Matad on track for 2017 drilling but it still waits on Shell exit payment

The explorer is working to secure a new partner for wells in Mongolia, following Shell's exit, and it says plans for 2017 drilling is still on track despite a delay in receiving a US$5mln payment.

January 10 (Proactive Investors) Petro Matad Plc (LON:MATD) told investors it is still on track with its drill plans but a US$5mln payment due from Shell has yet to be received.

A change in wording on an official document at the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia has held up the payment, which was effectively cleared in December when the Mongolian government approved the new assignment of interests in exploration blocks IV and V.

"While this is purely a technical matter it has caused a delay in receipt of the payment from Shell," the AIM quoted company said in a statement.

"The revised wording has been essentially agreed by all parties and the Company expects signing of the revised protocols will occur within the next few days. Payment by Shell is therefore expected to be received within two weeks."

Petro Matad is to retain 100% of the exploration blocks following Shell's decision to withdraw (78% stakes were previously entered into by BG Group) as it rationalised its portfolio of assets following its merger.

The exploration group intention is to drill two wells in Mongolia during 2017. The schedule to accomplish this would see drilling tenders take place in January, with the spudding of the first well following in mid-2017.

In this morning's statement, Petro Matad also said that its farm-out process, to bring in new partners, is ongoing and that a physical data in London has been attended by a significant number of interested companies.

Link to article

Link to MATD release

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Petro Matad Notes Share Price Move, Says No Further Update

LONDON, January 12 (Alliance News) - Petro Matad Ltd on Thursday noted the move in its share price and said there is nothing further to update on since it last released a statement on Tuesday.

Shares in the firm were up 22% to 11.25 pence on Thursday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Petro Matad said it has still not received the USD5.0 million it is owed by oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC for the transfer of two oil and gas blocks in Mongolia.

Petro Matad said the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia proposed a change in wording of the reassignment of the blocks, which has caused a delay in Shell making the final payment.

Link to article

Link to MATD release

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AKM closed -6.06% Thursday to A$0.031

'Erdenet-Ovoot' railway route to be defined

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) Railway route in direction 'Erdenet-Ovoot', on which railway from Erdenet city of Orkon province to Ovoot coal mine in Tsetserleg soum of Khovsgol province is to be put, was defined during yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

Relevant minister and chairmen of agencies were instructed to develop detailed feasibility study of the railway construction and engineering plan as well as to register the approved route coordination in National Space data.

The railway in direction of 'Erdenet-Ovoot' will enable putting products of mines in Khovsgol, Bulgan and Orkhon provinces into circulation, improving their efficiency and the development of tourism. Further basis for integrated transportation network will be founded to connect mines, industrial complexes and rural areas with railway.

'Erdenet-Ovoot' railway will be 542 km long with two basic stations and 8 junctions. It will have a capacity of 22.2 million tons/year, with transportation freight of 20 million tons/year and passing capacity of 16 pair of trains.

According to preliminary estimation, construction basis of the railway costs USD1.3 billion. 10 tons of mining products is estimated to be extracted in Ovoot coal mine in a year for further transportation.

Link to article

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Entree Gold Closes First Tranche of Over-Subscribed $7.6 Million Financing

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Jan. 11, 2017) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG)(NYSE MKT:EGI)(FRANKFURT:EKA) ("Entrée" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that it has closed the first of two tranches of the non-brokered private placement announced on December 15, 2016 (the "Financing").

The Company has issued 17,309,971 units at a price of C$0.41 per unit for gross proceeds of C$7,097,088. A second tranche of 1,219,513 units is expected to close on or around January 16, 2017.

Each unit (a "Unit") consists of one common share of the Company and one-half of one transferable common share purchase warrant (each whole warrant, a "Warrant"). Each Warrant will entitle the holder to acquire one additional common share of the Company (a "Warrant Share") at a price of C$0.65 per share for a period of 5 years. No commissions or finders' fees are payable in connection with the Financing. The securities issued in connection with the Financing are subject to a hold period expiring May 12, 2017.

Net proceeds from the Financing 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, for the advancement of the Company's flagship assets in Mongolia and Nevada, and for general corporate purposes.

Stephen Scott, President and CEO commented, "We are very pleased with the success of the Financing and the strong support from both existing and new shareholders. We also look forward to providing ongoing updates as we implement Entrée's refreshed corporate strategy."

Link to release

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report, Jan 12: Top 20 -0.43%, ALL -0.28%, Turnover 11.8 Million Shares

January 12 (MSE) --

Link to report

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3.5 billion 39-week t-bills issued at 16.99% via MSE

January 10 (MSE) On 10 January 2017, the 39 weeks Government bonds /16.99% annual coupon rate/ worth MNT 5.3 billion traded at Mongolian Stock Exchange.

Bellow member brokerage companies participated in bonds trading as follows:

Link to release

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Primary Trading Schedule of Government Securities on MSE, January-February

January 12 (MSE) Trading Schedule of Government securities for January and February of 2017.

Link to release

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APU Most Traded Stock in 2016, Standard Property Group Most Risen

January 10 (MSE) In 2016, total of 17,913,016 shares of 124 listed companies worth MNT 8,668,030,299 traded through Mongolian Stock Exchange. /Note: Block trading excluded/

Link to release

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42 out 58 Securities Companies Registered on MSE Have Trading Permits

January 12 (MSE) As of 11 January 2017, there are 42 securities companies have securities trading permits from Mongolian Stock Exchange out of total 58 member securities companies of MSE. 42 securities companies have the dealer's operation license, 26 securities companies have the underwriting operation license, and 14 securities companies have the securities investment advisory operations license.

Link to release

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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, January 12 Close










































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,490 Sell ₮2,500), TDB (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,501), Golomt (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,500), XacBank (Buy ₮2,490 Sell ₮2,500), State Bank (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,501)

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

Link to rates

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BoM issues 118 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -6.1% to ₮230.35 billion

January 11 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 118 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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BoM sells US$2.5m at 2,496, CNY8m at 359.26, accepts $5m USD swap offers

January 12 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid weighted average rate of MNT2490.85 for USD4.7 million and weighted average rate of MNT354.73 for CNY79.3 million respectively. The BoM accepted bid offers of USD 2.5 million with a single rate of MNT 2496.00 and bid offers of CNY 8.0 million with a closing rate of MNT359.26.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM received selling bid offers of USD25.0 million of USD swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM accepted the bid offers of USD5.0 million.

Link to release

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GoM sells 25 billion 28-week t-bills at 17.68% discount from announced 35 billion

January 11 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 35.0 billion MNT. Face value of 25.0 billion /out of 25.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 17.680%.

Link to release

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GoM sells 2.5 billion 2-year bonds with 18% coupon from announced 5 billion

January 11 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 2 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 5.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1.0 million MNT. Par value of 2.5 billion /out of 2.5 billion bid/ Government Bond was sold with weighted average yield of 18.000 % and a coupon of 18.000%.

Link to release

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World Bank predicts 2% growth for Mongolia in 2017

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) The World Bank has recently released a report on Global Economic Prospects: East Asia and the Pacific. According to the report of WB, the Mongolian economic growth in 2017 will be 2.0 percent.

The Mongolian economy continues to wrestle with persistent economic imbalances. Economic growth slowed to 0.1 percent in 2016 amid declining exports from a continued weakening of the commodity market and slower growth in the key export market of China, and growth in 2017 is projected to be less than two percent.

The economy has become increasingly reliant on the mining sector—its share of GDP stands at 20 percent, twice the ratio of a decade ago—and the lack of diversification amplifies the impact of changes in commodity prices.

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METALS-Shanghai copper steady as LME fails to open

* LME investigating, but no timeframe offered - traders

* US set to launch WTO complaint on China aluminium on Thurs

* Indonesia copper miners halt exports on regulation

* Coming up: eurozone industrial production for Nov at 1000 GMT (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)

SYDNEY, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Shanghai copper traded little changed in low volumes on Thursday, while most other Shanghai contracts fell after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump failed to offer concrete stimulus plans.

The London Metal Exchange electronic trading platforms did not open. The LME was investigating the issue, but did not offer a timeframe for resolving it.

Trump's first news conference since the Nov. 8 election contained no details on tax cuts and infrastructure spending, two factors that had fuelled the five-week rally in stocks and a selloff in global bond markets.

Hopes Trump would unleash waves of fiscal spending on infrastructure were a driver for copper prices to punch through the $5,000 a tonne mark late last year. LME copper closed down 0.8 percent at $5,714 a tonne on Wednesday.

Freeport-McMoRan and other copper miners have halted Indonesian shipments of copper concentrates to abide by a government ban on exports of unprocessed metal ores that took effect on Thursday, a mining ministry official told Reuters.

"You'd think it (Freeport) would have normal service resuming in a few days or weeks," said analyst Daniel Morgan at UBS in Sydney.

"If we don't see some kind of resolution ... in a few weeks' time that is something that could risk the anticipated global copper supply for this year."

Traders told Reuters earlier this week that a short-term halt to exports was unlikely to disrupt markets due to the impending Lunar New Year at month-end, with smelters sufficiently stocked.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper had edged down 0.1 percent to 46,900 yuan ($6,785) a tonne by 0406 GMT.

ShFE tin fell 3 percent. Shanghai zinc and lead dropped around 1.5 percent, while ShFE nickel slipped 2.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is expected to launch a complaint against Chinese aluminium subsidies with the World Trade Organization on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will promote "inclusive globalisation" at this month's World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos and will warn that populist approaches can lead to "war and poverty", Chinese officials said on Wednesday.

China's National Development and Reform Commission said it had approved 23 fixed-asset investment projects worth 184.0 billion yuan ($26.53 billion) in December.

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The enormous coking coal price rally of last year is starting to unwind

January 11 (Business Insider Australia) While iron ore spot prices continue to hover near multi-year highs, the same can't be said for coking coal prices right now.

They're plummeting, albeit after an enormous gain in the second half of last year, after a combination of supply disruptions within China and seaborne markets, reduced production levels in China, and a rebound in Chinese steel production put a rocket under prices.

The excellent chart below from RBC Capital Markets reveals the remarkable price action over the past six months.

What goes up must come down, right?

According to Fraser Phillips, Alexander Jackson and Wen Tian, analysts at RBC, the spot price for premium low-volatile metallurgical coal dropped by a further 14.9% last week to $US188.50 a tonne, extending its decline over the past four weeks to 26.1%.

"Seaborne metallurgical coal prices were lower this week on weak Chinese demand as there is sufficient inventory for mills and market participants continue to expect prices to fall in the near term," the trio wrote in a research note released on Wednesday.

While coking coal prices are unwinding as supply shortages ease, it has little to no impact on spot iron ore markets, at least not yet.

The spot price for benchmark 62% fines (CFR, Tianjin) jumped by 3.2% to $80.10 a tonne on Tuesday, according to The Steel Index, extending its two day gain to 5.3%.

It currently sits near the highest levels seen in over two years.

Previously, some analysts pointed to strength in coking coal prices as a supportive factor for higher grade iron ore, noting that it allowed steel mills to limit their coke usage during production at a time when coal prices were elevated.

However, that doesn't appear to impacting iron ore spot markets for the moment.

Continued restocking, driving Chinese port inventories to a more than two year high, along with optimism about a recovery in Chinese steel production following a relaxation of environmental curbs earlier this week, have been cited as two factors that have supported iron ore prices in recent days.

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Shanghai rebar, Dalian iron ore hit fresh multi-week highs

January 13 (The Australian Financial Review) Chinese rebar steel futures rose for a fourth straight day amid Beijing's campaign to shave excess steel production capacity, helping stretch gains in raw material iron ore.

The rally in both commodities extended last year's surge that came after years of losses, with analysts saying steel prices may remain strong as China's resolve to address overcapacity tightens supply.

China this week unleashed its boldest reform plan so far for the steel sector, saying it will eliminate all production of low-quality steel products by the end of June.

The world's top steel producer also halted eight steel projects in top steelmaking province Hebei, according to local media reports.

"While some of the push to close steel overcapacity reflects supply-side policy, the added impetus over recent weeks reflects growing pollution concerns," Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.

But Dhar said that while a resulting decline in steel output "may be positive for steel prices, (it) bodes negatively for iron ore demand and prices".

The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 1.1 per cent at 3207 yuan ($US464) a tonne, after earlier hitting its strongest level since December 19 at 3260 yuan.

Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange ended 1.7 per cent higher at 607.50 yuan per tonne, having initially touched a four-week top of 617 yuan.

Stronger futures have spurred a similar rally in spot iron ore prices.

Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port added 0.7 per cent to $US80.99 a tonne, rising for a fourth day, according to Metal Bulletin, though the pre-holiday restocking in China appears to be coming to an end.

"Supply is still quite good and I don't think you will see any aggressive restocking," said a Shanghai-based trader.

Stocks of imported iron ore at major Chinese ports reached 116.7 million tonnes on January 6, the biggest since at least 2004, according to SteelHome consultancy.

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Gold Surges Above $1,200 as Details-Shy Trump Weighing on Dollar

  • January 13 (Bloomberg) Traders remain uncertain on the president-elect's policies
  • Metal is up about 4% this year on demand for haven assets

Gold futures rallied to a seven-week high as investors flooded back into funds backed by the metal and the dollar declined in the aftermath of Donald Trump's press conference that provided little detail on his economic stimulus plans.

The metal on Thursday rose above $1,200 an ounce for the first time since late November as exchange-traded holdings jumped by the most since the day after the election. The U.S. currency fell against most of its major peers, dropping 0.8 percent against the Japanese yen.

Gold has risen more than 4 percent this year, bolstered by a weaker greenback that's spurring demand for the metal as an alternative asset. The president-elect on Wednesday left investors with few specifics on the timing and scope of planned policies from infrastructure spending to trade pacts, and fueled a drop in stocks after saying he would force drug companies to bid for the government's business.

"The long dollar trade is pretty crowded and Trump invoked more than a bit of hysteria in macro markets, so people are trying to figure out what that means for markets and for gold," Brad Yates, trading head for Dallas-based Elemetal LLC, said by telephone. "It's a good recipe for a gold rally."

Gold futures for February delivery rose 0.3 percent to settle at $1,199.80 an ounce at 1:37 p.m. on the Comex in New York. It touched $1,207.20, the highest for a most-active contract since Nov. 23.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the currency's strength versus trading partners, dropped 0.5 percent. Holdings in exchange-traded funds backed by the metal rose 1.6 metric tons on Wednesday, the biggest jump since Nov. 9.

"Gold is rising as question marks emerge over the consensus view that Trump would be great for the dollar and great for stocks on a grand, unfunded building plan," Adrian Ash, head of research at online gold trading site BullionVault, said by phone from London. "Traffic has been pretty much all one-way for us -- customers are buying."

In other precious metals:

  • Silver futures for March delivery was little changed at $16.825 an ounce.
  • Platinum futures for April delivery rose 0.9 percent to $984.70 an ounce.
  • Palladium futures for March delivery climbed 1.5 percent to $765.25 an ounce.

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Oil rises about 2 percent on supply cuts, record China demand forecast

January 12 (Reuters) Oil prices rose nearly 2 percent on Thursday on news that key crude exporters, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, were cutting production as promised in a deal to reduce a global glut and on forecasts of record demand in China.

Brent crude oil LCOc1 hit a high of $56.43 a barrel before easing slightly, and it was up 95 cents at $56.05 by 1:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT). U.S. crude CLc1 rose 78 cents to $53.03 a barrel.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom had cut production to its lowest in almost two years, a move that would help accelerate a rebalancing of the global oil market.

Falih told a conference in Abu Dhabi that global demand for oil would grow by well over 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2017 and the market would tighten in two to three years.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed in November to cut production at the start of the year to try to reduce a supply glut that has depressed prices for more than two years.

Several OPEC members, including Iraq and Kuwait, said they were implementing the deal and OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo said the group expects global oil inventories to fall by the second quarter of this year in response to the agreement.

Separately, Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the country was starting to implement its own planned cuts, in conjunction with an agreement among non-OPEC producers to reduce output.

"The idea is that if these producers honor their word, they'll take close to two million barrels off the market," said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

He said U.S. crude should continue to trade between $50 and $55 a barrel, but may have difficulty breaking through the upper end of that range.

BMI Research estimated overall compliance with production cuts at about 73 percent, led by high compliance from members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

China's net crude imports will rise 5.3 percent to 396 million tonnes in 2017 as crude consumption was forecast to hit a record 594 million tonnes or 12 million bpd this year, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said.

The country's top state-owned oil producer, however, cautioned that demand growth for products like gasoline and diesel will slow and the domestic fuel glut will remain a significant problem.

In addition, even as U.S. inventories of crude and products last week rose more than anticipated, a sharp increase in refining production to record highs pointed to solid demand that could also support crude prices.

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Politics & Legal

Mongolia toughens punishment for corruption

January 11 (AKIPRESS) The Mongolian Parliament's Judicial Standing Committee has backed an amendment of the criminal law.

At a meeting on January 10, the Judicial Standing Committee approved tightening of punishment for corruption and embezzlement offences.

Under the amendment, persons who give and accept bribes will both receive severe punishments.

The penalties for corruption offences are imprisonment, along with a fine and the confiscation of property.

According to the Transparency International, the world's watchdog on corruption, Mongolia scored 39 points out of 100 on the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index.

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Auditor General of Mongolia appointed

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) During its session today, the Parliament discussed the appointment of new Auditor General of Mongolia who heads Mongolian National Audit Office, and approved of the proposed candidate D.Khurelbaatar who was nominated for the job in connection with Auditor General A.Zangad's request to be released from his duties.

The new Auditor General was born in Arkhangai province in 1961. He graduated from the former Ural Polytechnic Institute and Mongolian National Academy of Governance. Having worked in various organizations including local administration, ministries and factories, he is now working as an adjunct advisor to the Minister of Construction and Urban Development and Prime Minister of Mongolia.

Some Members of Parliament questioned and gave instructions to the newly appointed Auditor General. Member of Parliament Ya.Sodbaatar said, "Measures have to be taken after determining the starting point. Mongolia spent a huge amount of money in the last 4 years, and the public should be informed of the outcome". D.Khurelbaatar said that he will ensure transparency.

Member of Parliament O.Baasankhuu instructed the Auditor to focus on monitoring state-run companies whereas Member of Parliament D.Terbishdagva said, "The previous authority didn't perform poorly, but conclusion made after the inspection wasn't practiced", and advised the Auditor General to closely cooperate with parliamentary standing committees.

As such, the Parliament voted up the appointment of D.Khurelbaatar, releasing the former Auditor General A.Zangad from his duties.

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New Mongolian Military Intelligence Chief appointed

January 12 ( The Mongolian Cabinet has appointed N.Ganbold as a director of Military Intelligence. Previously, this post was headed by D.Munkh-Ochir.

N.Ganbold resigned as director of the Independent Authority against Corruption (IACC) at his own request in 2015.

Military Intelligence and Border Intelligence was united into the General Intelligence Authority in 2015.

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January 13 to mark 25th anniversary of Constitution of Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of adoption the Constitution of Mongolia, following events are expected in Ulaanbaatar on January 13, Friday.

9 am-10.30 am – An  honorary meeting and award ceremony for former members of the People's Great Khural (Parliament of the Mongolian People's Republic of 1960-1992) at the Great hall of the State House of Mongolia.

11 am-11.30 am – A wreath-laying ceremony at the Statue of D.Sukhbaatar and a ceremony to pay tribute to the Monument of Chingis Khaan.

11.30 am-12 am — An exhibition of archival documents at the State History Museum.

11.40 am-11.50 am -- An award named after the State Honored Lawyer B.Chimid at the State Ceremonial Palace. Then-Speaker of the Parliament issued an order on November 18, 2014 to award distinguished lawyers and scholars with an award named after the State Honored Lawyer B.Chimid, one of the first lawmakers who developed and adopted the Constitution of Mongolia.  

12 am-1.50 pm — The representatives of government ministries and agencies will pay their respect to former members of the People's Great Khural.

2 pm - A traditional wrestling competition at the National Wrestling Palace.

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The Secret Supports of Mongolian Democracy

M. Steven FishMichael Seeberg

From: Journal of Democracy, Volume 28, Number 1, January 2017, pp. 129-143


In postcommunist Eurasia, a region littered with failed democratic experiments and frozen autocracies, Mongolia is an outlier. Mongolian democracy is robust in spite of the country's high poverty levels and its proximity to nondemocratic regimes. The key to the success of Mongolia's democracy lies in its powerful civil society. From the first sign of the country's political opening in 1989 to today, autonomous interest groups and social movements have helped keep officialdom honest (or at minimum, alert) and the polity open. Recent political challenges, however, promise to test civil society's ability to defend Mongolia's fledgling democratic institutions against nondemocratic tendencies.

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National Anti-Corruption Forum takes place

January 12 (MONTSAME) National forum against corruption took place in State Palace on Tuesday in connection with the 10th anniversary of Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC).

In his opening remarks, Parliament Speaker Mr M.Enkhbold highlighted that the implementation of National Program on Anti-Corruption which was approved by Parliament in 2016, is not only the responsibility of Parliament or the Independent Authority Against Corruption /IAAC/, but it should be achieved with active participation, support and engagement of everyone.

The national forum was attended by Members of Parliament, foreign diplomats in Mongolia, authorities of government organizations and representatives of organizations cooperating with the Independent Authority Against Corruption and civil society organizations.

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat closed the forum, and said, "Even though there are many features and indicators promoting a positive image of Mongolia on the international arena, certain aspects like poverty, corruption, bureaucracy and environment pollution are damaging the reputation of our country. Therefore, we need to work together on all levels against these factors".

The revised Law of Mongolia on Anti-corruption was adopted in July 2006, and on January 11, 2007, Parliament passed a resolution on the structure of the Anti-Corruption Agency.

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American man arrested after bomb threat

January 11 (UB Post) An American native reportedly threatened to blow up the Central Tower, located at the heart of the city on the east side of Sukhbaatar Square, at around 4:00 p.m. on January 9.

Local media report that the suspect demanded to meet the Canadian Ambassador at the Canadian Embassy on the sixth floor of the Central Tower and threatened to set off a bomb when he wasn't able to meet him.

According to a spokesperson from the General Police Department, a 51-year-old US citizen was taken into custody as suspect of a bomb attack. The police searched the site, but did not find a bomb.

Most local media report that the suspect wanted to meet the Canadian ambassador, but a source close to the issue claimed that the suspect demanded to meet the Danish ambassador at around 4:00 p.m., but seemed to misunderstand when a receptionist who was on the 15th floor of the Central Tower told him that there wasn't a Danish Embassy in the Central Tower. The source added that it's uncertain whether the suspect really threatened to blow off the place, and that security guards and the police came soon after.

Sukhbaatar District police and emergency rescuers arrived at the scene by 5:44 p.m. and instructed people inside the building to evacuate and searched for a bomb in the building.

At 6:45, the police set up a 200-meter command post and stood on guard outside to ensure no one enter the building. They finished a preliminary assessment and search at 8:05 p.m. and made a report. The report read that the police haven't found any explosive substance or material, and assured that it was safe to continue operations. The Property Management Department of the Central Tower closely cooperated in the investigation, the report said. At the time, the police wasn't able to confirm that the suspect was a Danish national.

On Monday evening, the Embassy of Canada to Mongolia responded to the news on their Twitter page.

"The Embassy is aware of a bomb threat made against the Central Tower this afternoon at 17:00. We have no reliable information that ties this incident to the Canadian Embassy in any way. All Embassy staff are safe," the embassy tweeted.

The General Agency for Investigation is currently investigating the case, according to a police spokesperson.

Some local media reported that the suspect was a Danish national and later clarified that he was indeed a US national.

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Do we need new constitutional amendments now?

January 10 (UB Post) In recent years, constitutional amendments have been a topic of debate amongst a number of politicians, legal scholars, specialists, and the public. Many of them say that a lot of sections of the Constitution, which was adopted in 1992, are still relevant to today's circumstances.

Legislators and government officials often talk about enhancing the legal and regulatory environment for foreign investors and entrepreneurs in Mongolia to pursue foreign direct investment, and to deal with the nation's economic challenges, when they meet with foreign delegates and talk to the public about actions the government is taking.

What is the new government doing to fix the problem?

How will politicians create a better legal environment for businesses in Mongolia? Making amendments to the laws that need to be changed to pursue foreign investment is the first priority. The problem is that some amendments are in violation of the Constitution, so there should be some amendments made to the Constitution as well.

For the new government's first step, on November 23, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat instructed Cabinet Secretariat J.Munkhbat and Minister of Justice and Interior Affairs S.Byambatsogt to set up a task force made up of legal scholars, specialists, and experienced lawyers to cooperate on drafting amendments to the Constitution. The task force was formed with 15 members and its first meeting was held on December 23.

What will the task force do?

The task force is going to conduct three months of studies throughout Mongolia to listen to people's opinions on constitutional amendments.

In reality, most people are not familiar with the legal ramifications of constitutional amendments, so the task force's responsibility is to tell people why we need constitutional amendments and how constitutional amendments could change their lives, as well as how they would influence the economy, help maintain political stability, and address many other challenges facing society today.

During their first meeting, members of the constitutional amendment task force and former Member of Parliament M.Batchimeg pointed out that if the task force focuses on specific points by listening to what issues people want to see addressed in changes to the Constitution, its findings will be effective.

Task force member Ts.Davaadulam, an official who has gained quality experience working for an international organization, stated that studying international perspectives and experiences is of significant importance to making amendments to the Constitution. She noted that when people are asked if making constitutional amendments is correct or wrong, they will give limited answers, so the task force will concentrate on creating a specific and focused survey for the public.

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat noted that the task force will decide what topics and sections of the Constitution they will work on, as well as what decisions to make. He said that the Cabinet's responsibility is to provide the task force with the resources and independent status it needs to carry out its operations,  and to find out what changes the public wants to see.

During their first meeting, a majority of the task force members agreed that the group has to focus on specific issues by outlining their objectives.

During a conference on Mongolia's independence and foreign policy held this past week, Head of the Security and Foreign Policy Standing Committee J.Enkhbayar noted that there should be to dramatic changes made to the Constitution to meet the needs of today's responsibilities concerning diplomat affairs and to keep up with international standards. He noted that the opinions of legal specialists and experienced lawyers, and their collaboration, are of great importance to making changes to the Constitution.

Some lawyers and legal specialists are reminding people talking about constitutional amendments to remember a statement made by the most important author of the Constitution,  B.Chimed, that the key to political stability is to adhere  to the Constitution.

If constitutional amendments are simply focused on adhering to the concepts behind national security and making the current Constitution stronger, we don't need to make any changes to the Constitution.  The amendments should help us deal with the challenges facing us.

Making constitutional amendments is a very complex issue requiring comprehensive research and thoughtfulness. State officials and legal specialists carry a great responsibility in pursuing this matter, and everybody has to pay great attention to constitutional amendments, because everything in society is guided by the Constitution.

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TT East Tsankhi coal to be sold for $59.3 a ton

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (Erdenes TT) has planned to sell a ton of coal for USD 59.3 at the East Tsankhi block of the Tavan Tolgoi deposits in the first quarter of 2017.

This decision was made on the basis of the coal pricing index and the coal market price.

Before this, the Mongolian government and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi working group revised the agreement with TTJVCo- the operating company East Tsankhi coal mine to raise the average selling price for coal by 85 percent in December 2016. The selling price of coal is projected to remain the same at the East Tsankhi block until the second quarter of 2017.

Erdenes TT plans to extract 1.1 million tonnes of coal at the West Tsankhi block within the first two months of its operation.  However, the coal sales of the block has still not yet begun.

It is expected that the East and West Tsankh blocks will help to generate USD 100 million tax revenue in the first half of 2017 and to pay off the loans to Chalco and TT JV Co.

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Alexander Mining boosted by Mongolian marketing agreement

January 11 (Sharecast) Alexander Mining has signed a marketing agreement with a prominent Mongolian commodities expert over the potential commercial use of the AIM company's leaching technologies in the country.

Alexander said Dr Jadambaa Temuujin, chief research scientist at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences's chemistry department and with "strong ties" with many mining and minerals processing companies in Mongolia, had agreed to a two-year deal with a rolling mutually agreeable six monthly extension thereafter.

Under the agreement, Temuujin will be paid a commission for the first three years of licence commercial use for every opportunity he introduces to Alexander that leads to the company executing a commercial technology licencing agreement and then receiving licencing revenue.

"Mongolia, with its favourable location adjacent to China, is a noted mining country and is highly prospective for the discovery of new mineral deposits," said chief executive Martin Rosser.

Mongolia's copper and coal deposits have attracted many international and domestic companies, including Rio Tinto, have both been identified and exploited, with the country already a significant exporter of copper, coal, molybdenum, silver and zinc.

Alexander pointed out that the Mongolian government is actively exploring ways to increase the extent of processing within the country, while plans are underway to build a centralised copper smelting and converting facility near Ulaan Baatar to reduce concentrate exports.

Shares in the company were up 23% to a still-small 0.23p just after 1300 GMT on Wednesday.

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Mongolia capable of exporting 107 thousand tons of meat

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) "Mongolia is capable of producing about 290 thousand tons of meat of 11.6 million heads of livestock in 2017", estimates a relevant study conducted by government specialized organizations.

Moreover, 107 thousand tons of meat which exceeds from annual domestic demand of meat can be exported, and there's a reserve of 6.1 million heads of livestock which can be exported as meat, emphasizes the corresponding Ministry.

According to a report by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mongolia consumes meat worth 8.2 million heads of livestock per year, and produce about 200 thousand tons of meat which is sufficient to supply the annual domestic demand of meat.

At the end of each year, Mongolia conducts a livestock census, and according to the preliminary result released by National Statistical Office, Mongolia's livestock reached 61.5 million heads in 2016 with 9.9 percent increase than last year. The said amount is the highest ever number recorded in the livestock industry.

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Mongolia moves forward with casino plans

January 10 ( Mongolia is moving forward with plans to establish casino resorts in the country in an attempt to tap into Asia's lucrative gambling business and thereby boost tax revenue. Earlier today (10th of January), the Judicial Standing Committee decided to establish a working group to draft legislation for the development of casino resorts under the leadership of L.Enkhbold MP.

An earlier casino bill was submitted in 2012 and received much support in the State Great Khural; however, it was not passed. The new legislation proposes a model currently used in Vietnam, South Korea and Cambodia where only foreign nationals are permitted to gamble in specially created resorts, often near the border or international airports. In other words, Mongolian citizens will be prohibited from playing in the casinos. Under the new bill, Mongolia will establish two casino resorts which are anticipated to generate MNT 74-130 billion in tax revenue annually.

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Child-centred corporate social responsibility

January 12 (Mongolian Economy) What is most at risk in Mongolia? Is it value of the currency, the mining sector, or the entire economy altogether? The answer is none of the above.

That which is at most risk is the future of Mongolia, the children. It would not too far from the truth to say that Mongolia is one of the countries that does not pay much attention to children. Children are suffering in body and mind on a daily basis – at home, in the streets and in the schools.

One of the things posing a great risk to the future of Mongolia is the wooden latrine. Outhouses are the source of 90 percent of soil contamination in Ulaanbaatar, and furthermore, they are one of the leading causes of gastrointestinal illnesses among thousands of children living in ger districts and rural areas. During the summer especially, outhouses become the source of infectious disease outbreaks of diarrhoea, hepatitis A and B and enteroviruses. Doctor S.Gambuu of the National Center for Communicable Disease says that children are the most vulnerable to these diseases, and also that the walk to and from outhouses often cause one to slip and become injured.

Actual work on issues concerning outhouses, which have been just talk for many years, started to take off two years ago. However, it was the private sector that took the initiative and not the government, indicating that corporate social responsibility (CSR) has made strides in Mongolia.

MobiCom, the first telecom company in Mongolia, did something about children using unsanitary outhouses. Since 2014, the company has worked on a project to improve sanitation and hygiene conditions at rural schools in cooperation with World Vision Mongolia. Over the past three years, MobiCom built improved sanitation facilities for schools in 35 soums in 12 provinces as part of the project. These facilities included septic systems that are spaced far from the school and have smart toilet seats, hot and cold water and showers. It provides hot water by heating groundwater and re-uses its waste water after purification. Such a solution is quite suitable for rural areas as the septic tank needs to be pumped only once every three years.

As of September 2016, a total of 35,000 children in rural schools now enjoy modern sanitation facilities, and more are on the way.

In the first year of the project's implementation, MobiCom Corporation raised about 70 percent of the financing while the World Vision Mongolia contributed the remaining 30 percent. Since 2015, local administrations began to be involved, such that each of the three sides now cover one-third of the project's financing. Furthermore, the Mongolian National Broadcaster, the United Nations Children's Fund and the Royal King construction company have also joined the project, further intensifying the undertaking. MobiCom spent a total of MNT 1.2 billion on the project in 2014-2015.

In 2017, the company plans to eliminate outhouses in schools of at least 10 soums or even 20, if possible, said MobiCom's PR and Communication Director E.Chinzorig. This CSR endeavour carried out by MobiCom has become a nationwide campaign.

MobiCom adopted its current CSR policy in 2014 and established a special unit within the PR and Communications Department. The policy states "CSR is not only the company's responsibility to society and the staff, but a corporate business and social philosophy for the prosperity of the society and the people." The core of this philosophy in MobiCom's case is children.

Children listen to you

Another major work child-focused initiative of MobiCom is the "108 Children's Helpline" project. In doing research for this article, I found out just how important this project is for Mongolia, given that violations of children's rights are increasing in the country.

Although Mongolia began operating the children's helpline in 2001 to ensure implementation of UN Conventions, it was not able to cover a wide scope due to financial shortfalls.

Since 2014, MobiCom Corporation and World Vision Mongolia have been cooperating on the work to upgrade the child helpline with the support of the Authority for Family, Child and Youth Development. The Child Helpline's 108 phone number was transferred into the same category as other emergency helplines, which made it free to call in accordance with a decree by the National Council for Children.

MobiCom now fully takes on responsibility for the hardware and software of the helpline and provides with free usage of its servers.

The child helpline operates 24/7 with a total of 22 employees divided into four shifts, including 16 counsellors, four social workers, one senior psychologist and one coordinator. A joint child protection team consisting of 152 khoroos and 336 soums keeps in contact with child and family development departments, school and kindergarten authorities, social workers, local administrations, citizens' representative councils and other non-governmental and international organisations operating throughout Mongolia.

The hotline receives an average of 430 calls per day, providing psychological counselling and transferring issues to relevant authorities if necessary. Within two years, approximately 360,000 calls were made. M.Enkhbold, a specialist at the child helpline call centre, said that 5,000 of those calls were emergency calls concerning the life or health of a child.

These are just a few examples of MobiCom Corporation's dedication to children. Some of the projects and programmes initiated by the company have been included in state policies as well as the government's platform. For example, MobiCom initiated and successfully implemented the first phase of a School Lunch programme at 12 secondary schools in the outskirts of the capital. As a result of the programme, school attendance and tardiness significantly improved, class participation increased and illness decreased. The programme was so successful that the government took the programme nationwide, implementing the measure in all the public secondary schools across the country.

MobiCom's PR and Communications Director E.Chinzorig said that MobiCom takes major pride in their CSR works, and it is clear that the company's CSR endeavours are much more than just empty gestures.

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Air pollution of Ulaanbaatar declared as state of disaster by NSC

January 11 (MONTSAME) Today, President Ts.Elbegdorj held no-tie meeting with journalists, introducing recommendations of the National Security Council on reducing air pollution, as head of the council.

"Due to air pollution, living in Ulaanbaatar now means living in dangerous and unsafe environment. Therefore restriction measures are inevitable. The National Security Council admitted that air pollution in Ulaanbaatar reached to disaster level.

Foetus dies in womb, proves the dangerous level. Special regimes should be followed as Ulaanbaatar is declared as disaster zone. An Emergency committee in state of disaster has been established headed by PM" underlined the President. 

He suggested evacuating people in some ger district areas from disaster zone-Ulaanbaatar. "-Some parts, particularly northern ger district area should be evacuated and rehabilitation should be made there to create green zone. The evacuation is a chance. Rural authorities should call back their native residents, developing industries and investment should be made in rural areas to broaden economy" said President Ts.Elbegdorj.

In his response to journalists' questions, the President noted that according to NSC recommendations, an issue on the capital city tax is expected to be submitted. Reportedly, some foreign counties proposed to cooperate in reduction of air pollution.

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Parents redemonstrate against air pollution on Jan 28

January 10 ( Parents to redemonstrate against air pollution, demanding officials to take immediate and efficient actions and for the well-being of children. The second demonstration will hold on Jan 28th, 2017 (Saturday) at 12 pm at the Sukhbaatar square. 

On Dec 26th, 2016, Over 4000 Mongolian parents gathered at the Sukhbaatar Square to raise their voices against air pollution and collected more than 2700 applications. Irate parents submitted their applications to the Head of Application Standind Committee D.Sarangerel. 

They demanded the government to hold their next meeting in Bayankhoshuu, the most heavily polluted area in Ulaanbaatar, where levels of PM2.5 particulates ranging between 1000-2000 micrograms per cubic meter daily. 

Moreover, parents demanded the government to find a way to increase accessibility to hospitals within Jan 10th, report the budget expenditure on air pollution within Jan 15th and to reduce air pollution of the city by 80 percent by 2018.

However, the cabinet meeting have not held in Bayankhoshuu and many children, suffering from diseases caused by air pollution are still lying on hospital floor. Thus parents have decided to demonstrate again under the slogan "We are mad as hell".

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President of Mongolia delivers guidance in fighting air pollution

January 11 ( The National Security Council of Mongolia held an emergency meeting under the theme of 'fighting against environmental and air pollution in Ulaanbaatar' on 10th of January. The NSC includes the President of Mongolia, the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister, MPs and key people from the Administration of Ulaanbaatar. At the meeting the council admitted that air pollution has reached disaster level provided guidance as to how to combat it.

Earlier today (11th of January), President Ts.Elbegdorj spoke on the guidance for fighting against air pollution as released by National Security Council. The NSC had identified three issues. These are:

1.    The council admitted that air pollution has reached disaster level and backed tough measures by the City Mayor such as establishing a 'red' demarcation line around Ulaanbaatar as well as prohibition of migration movement from the countryside to the city.

2.    Enterprises, government agencies and citizens are to work under a 'state of emergency' in Ulaanbaatar. The National Committee for Fighting Against Air Pollution will be renamed, the National Emergency Committee for Combating Environmental Pollution and will be led by the Prime Minister. Some rights of Ulaanbaatar citizens will be restricted. If someone violates the decision by the committee, they will be punished.

3.    Migrant movement from Ulaanbaatar to the countryside will be open.Mongolia is one of the world's most sparsely populated countries; measuring 604,100 square miles (1,565,000 square kilometers) in area, the country is larger than Western Europe. The Government will be focusing on the establishment of a better social infrastructure outside the capital; this will include the construction of hospitals and schools in the countryside.

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ALERT: Mongolian air pollution kills 120 children annually

January 12 ( A new report by the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences has revealed some disturbing figures about the impact of Ulaanbaatar's killer smog. The writers state that 120 children and 1200-1300 people in Mongolia are dying every year due to illnesses and disease caused by or exacerbated by air pollution. MNUMS researched air pollution effects on health in cooperation with the University of California and Seoul National University. The report shows that children under the age of five are at greater risk than adults; air pollution can severely damage the development of a child's body.

Based on the WHO studies in 2009, over seven thousand deaths occur annually in Mongolia; 10% of them are associated with air pollution. However, the number of deaths increased to 20% in 2014. Currently the coldest winter in a decade has led to the increase in the burning of cheap fuel in the capital's 'ger district' shanty towns, which has resulted in more intense pollution.

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Mongolia bans migration to capital to reduce smog

ULAN BATOR, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia's National Security Council (NSC) on Tuesdayapproved Ulan Bator Municipality's move to prohibit migration to the capital as a measureto reduce air pollution.

Batbold Sundui, mayor of Ulan Bator (UB), said: "My decisions are for the best interest ofUB residents. Because of smog, our right to live in a safe and healthy environment hasbeen violated."

"All migration to Ulan Bator from the countryside except those people that require long-term medical treatment and those who purchased apartments shall be prohibited untilJan. 1, 2018," Batbold said.

The mayor earlier presented the prohibition to the NSC, members of which includeMongolia's president, speaker of the parliament and prime minister.

The council approved it, while saying the prohibition can be extended if needed.

Under the ban, the sale of stoves, except those using biofuel and gas, will be banned, newsettlement areas for rural migrants will be established far from the capital city, and cityexpansion will be restricted.

The Municipal Office pledged to gradually replace stoves that burn raw coal.

About 300,000 households in Ulan Bator's slum districts burn raw coal, plastics andrubber tires for heating and cooking in their homes. The smoke generated by thesehouseholds is the primary cause of the air pollution in Ulan Bator, researchers said.

"We are forced to make these decisions as the current air pollution violates our right to livesafely and healthily," Batbold said.

"We are hoping to reduce the current air pollution by 20 percent. Those poor householdsthat burn raw coal will be given improved, efficient fuel to burn in their stoves. If peoplestop burning coal, air pollution will be reduced," said the mayor.

New migrants will be banned from settling in the city, and the existing rural migrants inthe capital city will be given opportunities to return to the countryside, according to theMunicipal decision.

Mongolia has six months of winter, and more than 300,000 households, or 800,000 residents, of Ulan Bator's slum districts have to rely on raw coal and other inflammablematerials such as plastics and old rubber tires to keep warm and cook during this period.

As a result, Ulan Bator is now one of the most polluted cities in the world with a PM2.5 density on average seven times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

The Mongolian government and international donors and development organizations, such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, have spent millions of U.S. dollarson programs and projects to reduce the city's air pollution since 2000.

However, analysts said that these efforts didn't substantially reduce the air pollution, which remained about the same as it was in early 2000.

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Capital Mayor issues ordinances to tackle air pollution

Ulaanbaatar, January 10 (MONTSAME) Yesterday, Mayor of the Capital city and Governor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold released three ordinances regarding air pollution reduction. According to the first ordinance, new settlement areas that produce air pollution, will not be planned and created.

In order words, boundary lines for existing Ger districts areas, where coal is burnt for heating will be defined and people are banned to settle outside the boundary lines.  The Mayor noted that new settlement areas should be eco areas.

Air pollution zones have been classified according to air quality. The first zone contains apartment and building districts, which are connected to the central heating system. Therefore pollutant emitting equipment will not be allowed to be used in this zone. In the second, third and fourth zones, processed low-smoke fuels will be allowed besides using electric heaters. Programs and projects to reduce air pollution and policy regulations and measures will be developed and implemented based on the zones.   

The third ordinance restricts movement from rural area to Ulaanbaatar. People, who needs long term medical service in Ulaanbaatar or who have purchased apartment with mortgage will be permitted to move to the capital. Otherwise, movement to Ulaanbaatar is banned till January 01, 2018.  

"- Although, Mongolian citizen has a right to move within the country, ensured by the Constitution, the current situation violate citizens' rights to live in safe and healthy environment, alerting National security. Therefore I released the ordinances within my sovereignty as a Mayor of the capital and Governor of Ulaanbaatar city, based on citizens' requests. We believe air pollution will be reduced, when these measures are realized" said Mayor S.Batbold.

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Soft loans to be granted for purchase of electric heating devices

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) The Government issued a resolution on providing ger district residents with free electricity for nighttime on December 28. Following the resolution, more decisions and regulations are being approved and adhered.

Now the Government works to provide citizens in ger district with possibility to purchase electric heating with loans financed from Green credit fund, reported Prime Minister J.Erdenebat to the National Security Council yesterday.

Currently 75 per cent or 110.8 thousand households in ger district area have electrometers, which are qualified to calculate consumption with time differences and their electric payment at night -time consumption has started to be zeroed. The remaining 36.4 thousand households need that kind of electrometers.  Technical capacity has been generated to provide 110 thousand households with 2.5 KW electric heating devices and conditions will be created to provide more 20 thousand households with 4 KW heating.

PM J.Erdenebat also reported on measures to be taken in short and long terms. Measures in short run includes developing national program on air pollution reduction, stabilizing operations of a fuel production factory and providing 23 thousand households with processed low-smoke fuels and improve people's involvement. 70 low pressure stoves, operating in Ulaanbaatar will be removed and the customers will be connected to central heating system.

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Prime Minister meets with electric heater retailers and ger district residents

January 11 (UB Post) The Ministry of Environment, Green Development, and Tourism and the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office are jointly organizing an exhibition at the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry on civic participation to reduce Ulaanbaatar's air pollution.

Over 50 enterprises are participating in the exhibition to offer ger district residents electric heaters, underfloor heating facilities, and winterized ger covers.

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat visited the exhibition to listen to the opinions of the exhibition's attendees and to oversee its operations.  He told them that the government has started taking urgent steps to address air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, such as providing ger district residents with free electricity at night.

The PM noted that the government will execute a policy that helps address rural-to-urban migration, which results in increased air pollution; to create more jobs in provinces and soums; and to promote building apartments for province  residents. He said that the government intends to ban bringing raw coal into Ulaanbaatar.

After his tour of the exhibition, the Prime Minister visited the home of Ts.Dorjkhand, a resident of the 2nd khoroo in Bayanzurkh District. Ts.Dorjkhand told the PM that he bought an Ulzii coal burning stove in 2010 through the Clean Stove Project, and his family has used the Ulzii stove for six years in a row. He said that the Ulzii stove burns less coal than a regular coal burning stove and emits less smoke. Ts.Dorjkhand thanked Prime Minister J.Erdenebat for providing free nighttime electricity to ger district residents.

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat also visited the home of Bilguun, another Bayanzurkh District resident. Since 2011, Bilguun's family has used underfloor heating. Bilguun said that when his family used a low pressure heating system in his house, before installing an underfloor heating system, they would spend 300,000 MNT on coal per month. Using underfloor heating, they spend 60,000 MNT to 70,000 MNT per month on electricity.

The PM emphasized that everyone's participation is of importance to fighting air pollution. He added that the government will work to increase the capacity of the electricity network and is planning to launch measures for the construction of a new power plant. He noted that the government is promoting an electric heating system, so providing ger district residents with access to loans is of importance to encouraging and motivating them to use electric heating systems.

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Air pollution reduction strategies to be formulated after NSC recommendation

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) Bills and drafts of decisions and programs regarding air pollution reduction, which is reflected in the National Security Council's (NSC) recommendation on January 10, will be developed urgently.  Government instructed relevant ministries to introduce the bills and drafts to the cabinet meeting, which is to be held in the first week of February.

Recommendations issued by NSC included the following:

- To amend relevant laws and regulations to ensure legal environment for working in emergency regime and define disaster zones, prohibiting  some activities, taking actions of evacuation, rehabilitation and replanning, as pollution of air, water and soil declared to state of disaster;
- To evacuate central administration organizations, institutes and universities and their infrastructure;
- To create system of responsibility and duties of every organization, official, company, entity and citizen at all level regarding reducing air and environment pollution, realizing relevant laws and regulations;
- To create legal environment ensuring involvement, collaboration and public control of citizens and entities regarding to reducing environment pollution

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New Mongolian mask filters through activated charcoal

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) Mongolian engineers of MCPT company invented a mouth cover named 'Doctor mask', which filters 10 times higher than ordinary cloth mask. Doctor mask has 4 layer filters made of activated charcoal and filters toxic smoke, volatile substance, dust and even water, having advantages of easily breathable and useable for protection from allergy and influenza. 

"Wood charcoal is considered as having high quality of filtering and it gives no negative effect on human health. It is said that children with height of less than one meter, are affected the most with air pollution.  Therefore we wanted to protect little ones" said general manager of the company J.Purev.

The mask is made to order in Japan and is available in all pharmacies of Ulaanbaatar at MNT350.

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We can't stand it anymore 

January 11 (Mongolian Economy) Air pollution in Ulaanbaatar has reached catastrophic level. Kids are dying due to air pollution. The demonstration started by parents. On January 11, 2017, journalists are joining the protest campaign.  Daily newspapers coordinated publishing of pictures of smoke on the covers of their newspapers and websites and put similar pictures on their feature sections, while television broadcasters also showed video of peak smoke hours for 30 seconds at 7:50 pm the same day. Mongolian media outlets are uniting their voices.

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Public voices resulting in efficient actions against air pollution

January 11 ( Air pollution has soared to hazardous levels in the most areas of Ulaanbaatar city, exceeding 120 times the limit, as compared with the World Health Organization safe level of 25. 

Today levels of PM2.5 particulates, which are the most hazardous to health, are reaching 3000 micrograms per cubic meter in heavily polluted areas of the city. 

Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia is home to about 1,372,000 residents. 

Every winter, residents of Ulaanbaatar city are suffering from hazardous levels of air pollution caused by rising ger districts, where people live with no access to central heating system and rely on coal-burning stoves to survive temperatures that fall below minus 35 degrees Celsius. 

80 percent of air pollution comes from those ger district households. 

Result of the study conducted by the end of 2015 reveals that Ulaanbaatar city has 214 thousand ger district households, of which 30 percent of them burn items that are extremely harmful to human health such as, animal fat, plastic ware and old tires. Those are families with low income, fighting with cold to survive.

Air pollution of the Ulaanbaatar city has been in the center of discussions for ten years. However, this year the issue has lead to positive outcomes due to rising public voices. 

On Dec 26th, 2016, over 4000 Mongolian parents gathered at the Sukhbaatar Square for the well-being of children, demanding the government to take immediate and efficient actions. It was the first ever demonstration of citizens against air pollution in the history. Parents have decided to demonstrate again under the slogan "We are mad as hell" on Jan 28. 

Moreover, media organizations have joined their forces against air pollution and starting to raise the pollution issue through different media platforms. 

The Government has spent MNT 135 billion on reducing air pollution in the last few years, implementing inefficient programs. 

Such public voices and continous demand have pressured decision makers, resulting to take following actions on tackling air pollution;


On Dec 28, 2016, the Government has approved a regulation to cut electricity night tariff for ger district households to zero, especially from 9pm to 6am, aiming at reducing air pollution of the Ulaanbaatar city. The regulation has applied starting Jan 1, 2017.

Over 146 thousand residents, living in ger district are able to subject to free nighttime electricity by installing electricity meter with dual-tariff equivalents. 

However, some households living in ger district cannot afford the electricity meter with dual-tariff equivalents, which costs about 90,000 MNT as well as electric heater with prices starting from 200,000 MNT. 


Ministry of Environment and Green Development is working to replace coal-burning stoves with improved stoves which produce less smoke and to offer briquettes to poor households. According to the study, the action is expected to reduce air pollution by 10 percent. 

City Governor`s Office reports that about 10 brickette manufacturing plants are operating in Mongolia. For instance, Mon Watt LLC has performed experiment on German technology for two years, which can produce heat for 16 hours a day, accumulating cheap electricity at night. 

Previously, the Government implemented "Coal" program and distributed raw coal with low cost. However, experts say that this action increased the air pollution. 


On Jan 9, City Mayor and City Governor S.Batbold has issued an order to stop migration to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia from rural areas until Jan 1, 2018, aiming to reduce air pollution. 

Most of those people living in ger districts are migrants from the countryside to city, seeking for better lifestyle, education and job. 

According to the order, people in need of long-term treatment in Ulaanbaatar city and people who purchased housing in Ulaanbaatar city are allowed migrate to the city. 

In other cases, migration of people from rural areas to Ulaanbaatar city is banned.

Air pollution of Ulaanbaatar city has increased by 30 percent within a year between 2015 and 2016. Residents of the city are at the danger of fatal health issues caused by air pollution, if officials will not take immediate and efficient actions this year.

According to the study conducted among the capital city, air pollution causes exacerbate pneumonia in children and cardiovascular disease in adults. Preliminary results from the Smoke Randomized Intervention Study of Air Pollution and Fetal Growth show that 130 children and 1400 adults die from air pollution in Ulaanbaatar city annually.  

Even the National Security Council led by the President accepted the situation and approved above orders.

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Putting a magnifying glass on air pollution

January 12 (UB Post) It's 6:50 a.m. in the morning. I wake up next to my beeping alarm clock to see the usual blanket of smoke covering the city in my view through the window. With a cup of coffee in hand and its aroma enveloping the room, I look at the poetically beautiful but realistically lethal sight: smoky Ulaanbaatar. In the sky, a beautiful dark gray to blue gradient spans from the north to the south, and a navy blue streak is followed by a thick swatch of dark gray, and then by a softer gray from the sky to the ground.

The smell of smoke fills my nostrils and lungs as I take the first step out of what seems to be my safe haven, my home. It instantly triggers a minor headache. What we jokingly say often is that we Mongolians are a fast-adapting people, and that we've probably already adapted to the smoke. Some have uttered this phrase so much that they actually believe it themselves. According to E.Undarmaa, a teacher at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, you don't want your body to adapt to pollution. "It's not even adapting, your cells are changing for the worse," she says.t's 6:50 a.m. in the morning. I wake up next to my beeping alarm clock to see the usual blanket of smoke covering the city in my view through the window. With a cup of coffee in hand and its aroma enveloping the room, I look at the poetically beautiful but realistically lethal sight: smoky Ulaanbaatar. In the sky, a beautiful dark gray to blue gradient spans from the north to the south, and a navy blue streak is followed by a thick swatch of dark gray, and then by a softer gray from the sky to the ground.

I instantly put on my air filtration mask, hoping to God it doesn't ruin my makeup or that it doesn't imprint itself on my face. The mask's exterior seems to be resembling the gray shade I so often see every morning. I've only worn it for four days.


The problem – in environmental and medical terms

According to German Mongolian Institute of Technology Professor S.Lodoisamba, an anti-cyclone from Siberia brings cold currents to Mongolia during winter, causing a temperature inversion and blocking hot air loaded with pollutants underneath the cold air, the air we and our children breathe. As Ulaanbaatar is framed by four mountains with the city's center in the middle of the convex, the city is especially vulnerable to these atmospheric conditions. The prevailing wind from the northwest blows the ger district's smoke into the city center and leaves people vulnerable to the dangers of air pollution.

In Ulaanbaatar, coal combustion is the primary cause of the most toxic pollutant, PM2.5, or fine particulate matter. Basically, the number behind the PM indicates the size of the particulate matter, which is measured by the unit μg/m3. PM2.5 is 1/20 the size of a single strand of hair and consists of different elements, such as carbon, crustal material, and ammonium sulfate. The fine particulate matter travels through your respiratory system, then into your bloodstream through the pulmonary alveoli of your lungs, a canal that pumps oxygen to your blood. Its entry into the bloodstream enables it to reach every part of the body it pleases, thus there are a number of different diseases associated with the body absorbing PM2.5.

Air pollution is the cause of major cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and is linked to seven million premature deaths around the world. In 2010, one in 10 deaths in Ulaanbaatar (1,600 deaths) were attributable to air pollution, and 8,500 individuals were hospitalized due to air pollution, according to a 2011 study conducted by Ryan Allen of Simon Fraser University. The study suggested that a 3.0 μg/m3 increase of PM2.5 leads to a 27 percent increase in the estimated number of attributable deaths (12 in 100 deaths).In Allen's study, the average PM2.5 in winter was approximately 200 μg/m3. Now, more than five years later, the air pollution has only increased, reaching 520 μg/m3 on a normal -20˚C morning.The duration of exposure and the increased concentration of pollutants both increase the risk of major health complications.

The smoke is costing us more than it should. Some people shared their medical experiences on the Facebook group Parents Against Air Pollution. "Because the lines at public hospitals are too long for children my girl's age, I had to go to a private hospital and pay over one million MNT for hospitalization. It's very inconvenient for a young family like ours," said Bolortsetseg.

Mongolians usually think Beijing's air is worse than Ulaanbaatar's. The graph below is a comparison of air quality in Ulaanbaatar and Beijing. Thanks to statistical modeling by Maelle Salmon, I found that UB's PM2.5 levels have surpassed those of Beijing almost 50 percent of the time since last September. In Beijing, they call their pollution the "airpocalypse". Here, it's no more than a "smoky" weather forecast on your iPhone.

 The institutional source of the problem

When Mongolia transitioned to democracy, poor infrastructure in rural regions of the country and disorganized urban planning and management in the city led to an urban population boom. Ulaanbaatar's population grew from 612,100 to 1,345,500 within two decades, from 1995 to 2015, according to the National Statistical Office. Now, Ulaanbaatar is nowhere near as densely populated as other big cities around the world. In fact, it's five times less densely populated than London.

Unfortunately, the city has not been developing as fast as its population. Rural people moving to Ulaanbaatar bring their gers, traditional housing which uses a stove for heating and cooking. They build their gers on densely packed plots of land in areas bordering the city, referred to as ger districts, which have turned into a hub of pollution.

If Ulaanbaatar was not the coldest capital in the world, it never would've become the city with the world's worst air pollution. The availability and the cheap cost of coal makes it the most attractive solution to combating the cold. Approximately 146,000 households (40 percent of Ulaanbaatar's households) live in ger districts. This accounts for roughly 50 percent of the air pollution in Ulaanbaatar.

According to, the power plants burn a combined 5.1 million tons of coal a year, 10 times more than the entire ger district combined, but studies suggest they are responsible for "only" 10 percent of the city's air pollution. The government's 1999 Air Protection Policy resolution called for the power plants to improve the quality of their fuel and to install high quality air filters in their flues by 2010, which did take place. Clearly, the law seemed to work then and the solution was well planned.

Previous governments have executed multiple projects and programs, like Coal and Stove, which have all proven to be futile.

During an interview with, Minister of Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol blamed "faulty policy, poor planning, and a lack of communication between government agencies" for why the 135 billion MNT spent by the Clean Air Fund between 2011 and 2015 amounted to no success. Definitely words we've never heard before.

Why aren't the people who contributed to faulty policies and poor planning being held accountable or responsible for anything? They had one job and they couldn't do it. Recently, Xinhua reported that 2,682 Chinese officials were "held accountable for [enforcing] poor environmental protection efforts". Even China is pursuing accountability.

Our government has a nice way of handling these types of situations. "It doesn't matter whose responsibility it is. Right now, we just have to focus on how to solve it." A whole ministry can't work on two things at the same time? FormerMinister of Agriculture R.Burmaa, said the same thing during a feud with wheat farmers, and now a different ministry is saying the same thing about air pollution.

They're basically saying, "We wasted 135 billion MNT of your money to make you breathe even more toxic air, but who cares who the culprit is, let's just solve it," which would be fine and dandy if they were actually solving the problem.

During a speech, Minister D.Oyunkhorol stated that her ministry was planning renewable energy projects, building a fifth power plant, plants to convert waste to electricity, and relocating ger district residents, and said it was important to not repeat past mistakes. If it's important we don't "poorly plan" this time, why are these projects starting to be discussed only after hundreds of people demonstrated in the cold? It's not like the pollution appeared overnight, or that it only appears in January.


Let's do some math here. Bob lives in a small house in the ger district. He burns roughly a sack of coal per day, and usually burns 25 sacks every month thanks to his new project stove. With a conventional stove he used to burn twice as much coal. A sack of coal costs 3,500 MNT, which means he spends about 87,500 MNT on coal every month, and 612,500 MNT every year for heating from October to May.

Now, the state is offering free nighttime electricity to ger district residents from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., from January to April. To take advantage of this program, all Bob has to do is go to his district and sign a contract, install an electricity meter with a day and nighttime setting (which costs up to 85,000 MNT), and buy electric heaters (which range in cost from 90,000 MNT to 1,800,000 MNT).

This is all problematic if you think about the time and transportation costs required to find the most efficient heater. On Monday and Tuesday, the ministry organized the Your Participation in Decreasing Air Pollution expo, bringing together retailers offering electric heaters, air filters, stoves, alternative fuels, and heat loss prevention technology. This definitely helped people with their selection process, and a lot of ger district residents were informed and went to the expo.

So, Bob buys the cheapest heater for 90,000 MNT, which is able to heat 32 square meters and uses 1kW energy, which means it will cost 45,000 MNT per month for heating during the day, and 135,000 MNT for the three months the government will provide free nighttime electricity. After March, he will probably need to burn coal again.

The average household uses 250 kWh of energy per month. One hundred kWh will be free now, saving residents 7,700 MNT every month and costing the state 30 billion MNT, says Ts.Enkhsaikhan, head of the Sales Management Division of the Ulaanbaatar Electricity Distribution Network. Is this measure really worth the cost?

Songinokhairkhan District resident B.Altantsetseg says, "The total cost of trying to switch to electricity for only three months costs way more money than burning coal. There are also doubts about whether or not the government will waive nighttime electricity tariffs next year. Then we would've spent all that money on other commodities instead, such as better shoes for my children."


Short-term plans should be considered, although there's a bigger need to look far into the future for permanent solutions at the same time. I believe the ministry is doing all that they can at the moment with their current resources.

The best short-term action is to increase public awareness about the causes and dangers of air pollution, to reach the audience which needs to hear it the most. The ministry has been organizing a few events and exhibitions to inform the public about air pollution and to improve access to electric heaters, air purifiers, and what not. At this time though, we can't sit on our hands and rely on the ministry to do all the work, or just demonstrate to demand that they do all the work.

We have to unite and cooperate to bring about change, as we did with the Democratic Revolution. Instead of demonstrating at the square just to hear people talk about long-term solutions, let's learn about what we're fighting. Let's talk to people, and to our family and children, until they listen and understand. Let's try to change morals and behavior. We can all bring about change just by informing people of the consequences of their actions.

Prevention outweighs the cure regarding the pain and economic strain of pollution. Initially, we have to invest in ourselves and our family members by wearing air filtration masks. Mongolians are manufacturing MTsJ masks in Erdenet, which fulfill FFP2 standards. They're 2,600 MNT each and are being sold at MedImpex pharmacies. 3M masks range in price from 2,000 MNT to 15,000 MNT, depending on their efficiency, and are sold at most Petrovis gas stations and at the pharmacy at Public Hospital No.1. The 2,600 MNT you'll spend every two weeks could save you 10 to 1,000 times more in medical costs in the future.

By understanding these facts, we can persuade others to change their behavior. We have a chance to help ger district residents make better decisions, decisions which will not only affect them but us. We're all in this together, and we're doing this for us.

Globally, we need to find solutions that can systemically improve air quality instead of relying on other sources of pollutants. The world's brightest minds are working to prevent air pollution and to address climate change. In the meantime, the least we can do is to fight for ourselves.

For more data from OpenAQ, go to

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Monuments of Ulaanbaatar city wearing masks

By A. Misheel

January 12 ( Citizens of Ulaanbaatar city has launched a quiet movement against air pollution and put masks on monuments of the city. 

The movement reminds officials to take efficient action against air pollution and citizens to protect their health with masks.

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Vehicle tax collection underway

January 11 (UB Post) Under the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar's Directive on City Taxes, the collection of vehicle, emissions, and road use taxes kicked off on Monday, as announced during last Saturday's joint statement made by the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office, National Center of Auto Transportation, General Department of Taxation, Ulaanbaatar Traffic Police Department (UTPD), and Ulaanbaatar Traffic Control Center.

General Manager and Head of Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office T.Gantumur noted that districts will immediately start collecting vehicle taxes. "We plan to include every organization and vehicle owner who has expired registration or has been late in vehicle tax payment and registration in previous years," T.Gantumur reported.

Vehicle tax can be paid at 18 locations; at district tax departments, State Service Centers (located at Dunjingarav, Misheel Expo and Dragon Center), and at the city's three Vehicle Service Centers. Head of the Ulaanbaatar Taxation Department D.Munkh-Uchral encouraged everyone to pay their taxes as soon as possible at their nearest venues.

"There are over 480,000 vehicles registered in Ulaanbaatar. Around 50,000 of these vehicles are non-operational. It's possible for tax departments and associated organizations to find drivers that haven't paid taxes by using security and surveillance cameras. We plan to send letters notifying drivers about when taxes need to be paid and other useful information," stated D.Odbayar, the head of Ulaanbaatar Traffic Control Center.

The UTPD is monitoring whether or not drivers have paid their taxes, UTPD spokesperson Ya.Soronzonbold reported. He noted that vehicle owners must pay taxes within a certain timeframe depending on the last digits of their license plate, but noted that it's possible to pay in advance.

Vehicle tax collection is scheduled as follows. The deadline for paying taxes is May 31.

  • License plates ending with 1 or 6 must pay taxes in January
  • License plates ending with 2 or 7 must pay taxes in February
  • License plates ending with 3 or 8 must pay taxes in March
  • License plates ending with 4 or 9 must pay taxes in April
  • License plates ending with 5 or 0 must pay taxes in May

According to state officials, there are a total of 863,000 vehicles in Mongolia but the owners of more than 21,400 vehicles  have never paid taxes before, and 150,000 vehicles weren't driven last year.

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What are the returns from RM240m investment in Mongolia?

January 11 (Malaysia Kini) One question that has not been discussed very much is the US$60 million (RM240 million) invested in Mongolia.

According to the Finance Ministry, this amount was invested in Mongolia, but no further details were provided for public consumption by the ministry.

My question is, why is this matter not being explained in a transparent manner, despite the money being part of public funds supposedly used by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) for investment purposes?

The investment is no small amount of money. RM240 million could have easily sponsored 240 medical students at some of the best universities around the world.

Or it could feed the residents of over 500 orphanages and old folks homes for a year, assuming that each spends half a million to maintain the residents. Yet, while our charitable organisations have suffered cuts in federal grants and some are running into deficits, no help has come their way.

Burning questions

Therefore, there are many burning questions to be asked. Hopefully, these questions will be raised in the next parliamentary session regarding the amount that was invested in Mongolia.

What exactly were the kind of mining activities carried out there? What company was involved? Who are the Malaysian directors in this company who will ensure that our interests are always protected? What are the returns from this investment?

There must be some proper annual report from the operations in Mongolia. Where are the reports? Were these reports given to the public accounts committee which investigated the 1MDB case?

The last that we heard about this RM240 investment in Mongolia was last year based on a parliamentary written reply by the Finance Ministry dated April 6 is that the account was still being audited. I am sure nine months down the road the accounts would have been audited. Where are the accounts?

In fact, many questions have been raised by Pakatan members of Parliament with regard to the status of the RM4 billion, including this amount of RM240 million, which has gone unaccounted for.

If the Finance Ministry had failed to reveal the details back then, perhaps, with the coming general election, it should at least come out with an appropriate answer to convince the voters. No?

Unless there is something to hide, I find it irresponsible for the Finance Ministry to cite that the accounts were still under audit, when it declined to reveal any details sought for by the opposition a year ago.

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Exploring Mongolia's balancing behaviour

by Pranay Kotasthane 

January 10 (Logos, the Takshashila Community Blog) In the near future, it's unlikely that Mongolia will position itself as one of the allies in India's efforts to balance out Chinese influence | by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

Mongolia's supposed volte-face has attracted the attention of India's strategic community in the last few days. A simplified sequence of events is as follows: In May 2015, Mr Modi made a trip to Mongolia, the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister to that country. The most substantial outcome for Mongolia from this visit was the announcement of a $1 billion line of credit. Notably, the $1 billion amount is the second largest credit line issued by the Government of India, since the inception of this assistance programme in 2003-04. This was followed the Dalai Lama's ninth visit to Mongolia in November 2016 (the last planned visit in August 2014 was cancelled by Mongolian authorities because President Xi was to set foot there on the same dates). China unsurprisingly objected to the November visit: it closed down a key border crossing between the two countries and cut-off talks on providing a $4.2 billion debt to Mongolia. Soon enough, the Mongolian Foreign Minister was made to publicly apologise for permitting the visit. He went on to say that the Dalai Lama will not be allowed to visit Mongolia under the current administration henceforth.

China's official response to the events was sullen — an approach that has come to characterise its relations with most of its neighbours. The Chinese Foreign Affairs Spokesperson said:

we hope that Mongolia will truly learn lessons from this incident, truly respect the core interests of China, honour its promise and make efforts to improve the relations between China and Mongolia." In turn, the Mongolian ambassador to India on called on India to extend support in this moment of crisis.

Now, because of the India angle to this story, some analysts pointed out that India's inability in extending sufficient help was to blame Mongolia's spectacular capitulation. Accurate or not, this assessment leads us to the following questions: what does this turnaround say about Mongolia's capacity to challenge China? And, can Mongolia ever demonstrate balancing behaviour and ally with states such as India in countering China? On examining the recent turn of events closely, two possibilities come forth.

The first possibility: it was Mongolia that initially sensed an opportunity — a visit by the Dalai Lama could signal that his reincarnation could appear in Mongolia. Hence, the Mongolian government permitted the visit, albeit one strictly classified as that of a 'religious nature' alone. But when the Chinese stick came down with all its might, Mongolia quickly retracted.

Mongolia has played this game before — this was the Dalai Lama's ninth visit to the country since 1979 and on each occasion, the Chinese response has been unkind. In 2002, China retaliated by closing the border rail crossing for two days, isolating the land-locked country further. The response in 2011 was milder — a 'stern representation' was made to convey Beijing's displeasure at Ulan Bator. With this history in mind, it is difficult to believe that Mongolia permitted the trip without expecting a pushback from China.

The second possibility: India was, either a failsafe option that Mongolia presumed it could revert to in case the Chinese retaliated, or was the one that abetted the Dalai Lama's visit. In either case, this possibility relies on a perception that Mongolia can be a balancing power — ready to join hands with weaker sides such as India to challenge the regional hegemon.

If this was indeed the intent from the Indian side, we're on the right track. However, the same cannot be said about the instrument used. It would take a lot more than a mere increase in Line of Credit (LoC) to get a land-locked country — one that is struggling with a '$1 billion budget gap and looming debt repayments' — on your side. A Line of Credit — whatever the amount extended may be — count merely as an attempt that can at best marginally change incentives of the recipient country. Projects undertaken as part of LoCs come with riders — 75% of the value of the contracts must be sourced from India. And the utilisation rates of LoCs are often slow, because of supply side constraints (read incompetence of Indian exporters) or because of demand issues (read inadequacies of recipient nation's importers). [Data on lines of credit available in this xls sheet from the EXIM bank website.] 

Probably, the truth lies somewhere in between both the possibilities. What is clear is that China's response this time around was swift and unforgiving, in continuance of China's aggressive stance against its neighbours under President Xi. And it came at a time when Mongolia is already struggling economically. Under such circumstances, can Mongolia be one of the allies in India's project of balancing out Chinese influence in the near future? Can, for instance, Mongolia take the risk of allowing the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama to appear in Mongolia?

Very unlikely, especially if India is unwilling to think beyond Lines of Credit. If India is seriously considering challenging China, that demands it to offer something that can drastically change its partners' incentives. Perhaps it is time to consider options such as offering unconditional development (if not military aid), or investing in long term developmental projects (like CPEC, minus all the Chinese characteristics) to bolster the capacities of smaller states in China's neighbourhood. And even that wouldn't guarantee the balancing credentials of states such as Mongolia, too low on the national power scale to inflict pain to China. Perhaps, a better balancing strategy for India would be to consolidate relations with Vietnam — a country that has the credentials to take the fight to the Chinese in alliance with partners such as India.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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Parliament Foreign Policy Committee meets US Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) On January 10, J.Enkhbayar, Head of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Policy and L.Oyun-Erdene, Deputy Chair of Mongolia-US inter-parliamentary group met with delegates led by Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt, Head of the US diplomatic mission to Mongolia.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Ambassador talked about the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the US and Mongolia which falls this year, saying that the meeting is intended for discussing the activities to be held in frames of the anniversary and future cooperation.

"The US is Mongolia's third neighbor", said J.Enkhbayar conveying that he is satisfied with bilateral cooperation expanding in all sectors including politics, economics and defense. He also noted the importance of developing enhanced inter-parliament and inter-standing committee relations between the two countries.

The Ambassador appreciated the contribution of Mongolia in peacekeeping missions, emphasizing on how bilateral ties are enhanced with Mongolian peacekeepers in areas of conflict executing their missions with responsibility and reputation.

The Ambassador also noted that the US Government had launched LEAD-Mongolia program and high-school students exchange program which makes it possible for 20 Mongolian pupils to study in the US. Sides exchanged views on future directions of bilateral cooperation and timely matters.

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Foreign Minister meets Millennium Challenge Corporation delegates

Ulaanbaatar, January 9 (MONTSAME) The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Ts.Munkh-Orgil received a delegation led by Jonathan Brooks, the Managing Director for Europe, Asia, Pacific, and Latin America programs of the Millennium Challenge Corporation on January 9. 

Last December, Mongolia was re-selected by the Millennium Challenge Corporation as an eligible country to sign the Second Compact Agreement. In this regard, delegates of the MCC have worked in Mongolia to exchange views with government officials of Mongolia on actions and measures to implement in the future.

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Mongolia and UK to cooperate in agricultural industry

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) P.Sergelen, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry met with Catherine Arnold, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Mongolia on January 9.

After expressing Minister's gratitude to Ambassador for coming, the dignitaries exchanged views on future collaboration in the areas of agriculture and light industry. In particular, the Minister and the Ambassador talked about sharing experiences and bilateral cooperation in the directions of regulations on organic trademarks.

Furthermore, Minister P.Sergelen offered a proposal to get technical assistance from the UK on making a catalogue and a list of products approved in the organic food and agricultural manufacturing industry of Mongolia. In turn, Catherine Arnold, Ambassador accepted the request and pledged to collaborate on this issue in the future.

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Cuban Ambassador to Mongolia is received by Minister of Foreign Affairs

MONGOLIA, 9 January 2017 (Cuba MFA) The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia His Excellency, Mr. Tsend Munkh-Orgil received in audience the Cuban Ambassador Raúl Delgado Concepción in which he sent a warm congratulations to the Cuban government and people for the 58th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

In the cordial meeting were highlighted the possibilities of expanding cooperation between both countries and evaluated those areas with greater possibilities of collaboration among which stand out the Cuban biotechnological products and medical and sports collaboration.

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Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia welcomes the Cuban Ambassador

MONGOLIA, January 11, 2017 (Cuba MFA) - Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia Mr. M.Enkhbold, received the Cuban Ambassador Raúl Delgado Concepción at the Government Palace in the city of Ulaanbaatar, pointing out the good state of relations between them Countries and the impetus given by the visit of Mongolia President T. Elberdorj in September 2016.

Mr. Enkhbold, Chairman of the State Great Hural and Secretary General of the Mongolian People's Party, thanked the formation of young Mongols who had benefited from Cuba's cooperation in higher education. At the meeting Mr. Enkhbold asked the Cuban Ambassador to work together with the Mongol institutions to consolidate cooperation in the fields of sport and tourism, noting that in both areas Cuba has a vast experience. He evaluated as positive the biotech products produced in Cuba for livestock which could be of great use in the mass of 60 million head of cattle that Mongolia currently has.

In a cordial atmosphere, the meeting concluded with the congratulations of Mr. Enkhbold to the Ambassador for the presentation of the credentials and the exhortation to continue strengthening the political, economic and commercial relationship between the two nations.

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Speaker receives Cuban AmbassadorMontsame, January 12

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Cuba providing medical scholarships to two Mongolian students every year since 1994

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) On January 10, Raul Delgado Concepcion, Ambassador of Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to Mongolia paid a courtesy call on A.Tsogtsetseg, Minister of Health to exchange views on medical cooperation.

At the meeting, Ambassador Raul Delgado Concepcion said "The government of Cuba has been providing scholarships to prepare dentists and medical staff and has granted 2-3 Mongolian students every year since 1994. During that time, over 140 Mongolian students have participated in the Cuban government's program. For the time being, 19 Mongolian students are studying medical science in Cuba".

As a follow-up of an official visit of Ts.Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia to Cuba in 2016, three specialists of the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center of Cuba will work in Mongolia in the first quarter of 2017. The specialist will conduct a survey to issue a recommendation on which fields of treatments are in need of more assistance from Cuba, the Ambassador added.

The Health Minister expressed her interest in cooperating in the fields of eye surgery, biotechnology and vaccine production, temporarily employing Cuban medical doctors and specialists in Mongolia and training Mongolian medical doctors in postgraduate and specialized schools to Cuba.

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Taiwanese Representative Office presents books to Mongolian library

January 12 ( The Representative Office of Taiwan in Ulaanbaatar has presented over 200 books to the Children's Library in the Chingeltei District on 12th of January. The books are written in English and Chinese.

In recent years, the number of Mongolian children studying Chinese and English has increased.

A total of 200 children regularly sit in the Children's library of Chingeltei district.

Taiwan has several excellent universities, where a number of much older Mongolian students are currently studying.

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Khusugtun to perform in Brazil on January 19

January 11 ( "Khusugtun" the Mongolian ethnic music band to attend international music festival, to be held in Salvador city, Brazil on Jan 19. 

In scope of 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Brazil, Khusugtun is scheduled to perform their concert at Brasilia city on Jan 20th. 

Khusugtun has grown famous much in Asia for winning 2nd place at Asia's Got Talent 2015. Previous achievements of Khusugtun include performing at BBC Proms Human Planet in 2011, and performing their music at Netflix hit serial "Marco Polo" season 1.

In 2016, Khusugtun has performed in Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan and France, promoting Mongolian cultural heritage

This year, they has planning to perform in Pakistan, Canada, USA and Japan. The band will go on tours to Canada and nine cities of USA starting March, 2017.

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Amb. to Russia B.Delgermaa: Our people share a warm atmosphere and lively interaction

January 11 (Mongolian Economy) "Mongolian Economy" DECEMBER 2016  №20, 21 

We have sat down with the B.Delgermaa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Russia.

- Let's begin our conversation by talking briefly about the historical relationship between our two countries in relation to the 95th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries?

Perhaps it would be appropriate to talk about diplomatic relations between Russia and Mongolia by separating the topic into periods. The first period would be 1921-1945, or in other words, the period starting from the People's Revolution up to the end of World War II. The second is the post-war development period. During this time, the two countries made huge investments and started major joint projects in the sectors of mining, agriculture and construction. Moreover, relations expanded in the cultural and education sector, and many Mongolian intellectuals and notable people in the cultural sector studied in Soviet universities.

Since the 1990s, there has been a big systemic change in the two countries. Both countries transitioned from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, and the political system also changed into a multi-party system. During this time, the economic loans and support we used to receive from the Soviet Union stopped, and Mongolia went through difficult times due to shortages of goods and energy. Also, the Soviet Union dissolved as former Soviet republics declared independence. This year marks the 25th anniversary of independence for many countries of the former Soviet Union.

Although the economy was difficult for post-socialist Mongolia, we updated all the agreements and negotiations in 1993. In other words, there were no changes in the key aspects of bilateral relations, although both countries were undergoing reforms and in a state of transition. Then in 2009, the two countries signed a memorandum of strategic partnership. Therefore, it can be said that Russia is a strategic partner in Mongolia's foreign policy. Relations between the two countries reached new heights with the agreement on strategic partnership.

- How do you assess the 95th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries as the Ambassador representing Mongolia in Russia?

- Politically, there are no pending disputes or issues between our countries. Top-level bilateral meetings take place regularly. Although our country has observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the president of Mongolia meets with his Russian counterpart to discuss bilateral relations during each annual meeting of the heads of state of the SCO member countries. Generations of Mongolian prime ministers participated in the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. In this context, our PM met with Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev. President Putin attended the event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battles of Khalkhyn Gol. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took part in the ASEM summit held in Mongolia. Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko and Chairman of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin visited Mongolia, and Mr. Naryshkin attended the 2015 Autumn Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly held in Ulaanbaatar. These high-level meetings and other events show that the bilateral relations of our two countries meet the description of strategic partners.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov's visit to Mongolia in April of this year was of course a very important event as it was the first visit by a Russian Foreign Affairs Minister to Mongolia in nearly a decade. During his visit, the bilateral cooperation programme for the next five years was approved. It is an important medium-term strategy programme that defines what challenges the two countries face in the humanities, economic, political, defence and all other sectors, and what should be done before the centenary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. It should be noted that it is a document of historic significance.

Our countries have a fraternal relationship. When I meet with Russian people in hospitals or in the streets, many people tell me "my grandmother used to work in Mongolia in the 70s" or "my grandfather fought in the Battles of Khalkhyn Gol." Russian people have such warm and kind hearts. Mongolians who studied in Russia come to Moscow after 20 or 30 years and say they feel as though they have come home and always want to eat the ice cream and pirozhki they used to eat during their student years. Such is the warm atmosphere and lively interaction between our two nations.

The main work our embassy should carry out is reviving the old tradition in the humanities sector. In other words, we need to take cooperation in culture, literature, journalism, sports, health and education to new levels. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and made certain negotiations concerning the period 2015-2017. In this context, the two countries agreed to organise bilateral cultural days and exchange cultural ambassadors. Sending a cultural ambassador, the face of the country's culture, to such a great centre of world culture is a big diplomatic activity between nations. 

Another issue we must focus on is the gap in the trade balance between the two countries. In the past, Russia accounted for the majority of foreign trade whereas today it takes up a very small percentage. Therefore, my first task after being appointed to this position was making structural changes and having the best personnel focus on trade and economic areas.

In a time when the world is becoming increasingly integrated, Mongolia has gained considerable experience by cooperating with the European Union over the last 10 years. In 2015, we signed an economic partnership agreement with Japan. Now we are starting negotiations with the Republic of Korea and striving to partner with ASEAN as well as discussing partnership with APEC. In other words, it is necessary to be part of some kind of regional integration. By doing so, we will be able to turn our landlocked geographic location between two great powers into advantage and work with these two large markets. Therefore, we are also interested in the Eurasian Economic Union.

Agricultural issues are also very important. During the "Golden Autumn" event, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stressed that this year Russia harvested 115 million tonnes of grain, which is the biggest harvest volume in the last 50 years. Mongolian Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P.Sergelen discussed cooperation in the agricultural sector with Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Tkachyov when he participated in the same event. For example, there is a programme to recover livestock health. At least the income of herders will increase if the health of livestock is improved, and it would make it easier to implement many big goals, such as boosting export of meat. Unfortunately, Mongolia exported only four thousand tonnes of meat last year. Mongolia's meat exports will significantly increase if can provide heat treated meat to the Russian armed forces. The two ministers discussed the possibility of cooperation in areas of agricultural raw materials such as fur, leather and wool in addition to meat.

Today Russia domestically provides 100 percent of five out of eight key staple foods to ensure food safety. However, they still do not domestically meet the demand for meat, in particular, beef. Therefore, it appears that Russia has great interest in importing meat. Everything is possible if Mongolia adhere to the right policy. This great power handles all of its tariff and non-tariff issues through the Eurasian Economic Commission. Thus, we need to adjust to the general legal environment of this union. We need to closely cooperate with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Armenia. It has been seven months since I was appointed as the Ambassador to Russia. The Embassy of Mongolia in Russia also covers Belarus, Iran and Armenia. Currently, I have presented my credentials to Belarus. In the future, we will accelerate the works directed towards these countries.

- Russia is looking to restore cooperation, investment and good relations with Mongolia. What are your thoughts on this?

- Personally, I have already said that our countries have a warm connection with each other. But the main thing we need is a "one window policy" in public administration. Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Relations established a department responsible for economic cooperation. Likewise, we need to deal with Russia and China with an integrated policy in the infrastructure, environment, education, sports and humanities sectors. It is not enough to simply talk about friendship and fraternal relations; today we need to implement forward-looking policies. Our countries are eternal neighbours. In that sense, our countries have always been heading in the same direction over 95 years. We need to administer policies with continuity based on this fact.

- What would you say about the future development of Russia?

- Russia is a multi-ethnic federal state with a population of 146 million people. Russia's governmental organisations are stable. They do not politicise things and they approach human resource issues prudently. A strong public policy is the main basis for being a strong country. Space for workforce improvement, teamwork and foreign policy expansion is important for any country. Although Russia maintains a strong position in the global organisations, it also wants to expand its membership in the Eurasian Economic Commission. Countries such as India and Iran expressed their interest in joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. We have to emphasise having a smart approach to where the policy of this great power will be focused during this process.

Also due to the economic downturn, Russia is focusing on ensuring budget discipline, developing regions and addressing social issues in relation to the economic crisis. Clearly this position will not change in the future. 

- Russia decided to place a horse monument, a gift from Mongolia, at Poklonnaya Hill. I was very glad to hear this. We believe that it will contribute to cultural and historical relations between the young people of the two countries. What is your opinion on this?

-President Ts.Elbegdorj gave sculptor A.Ochirbold's monument of Mongolian horses, named "On the Roads of War," as a present to Russia on behalf of the Mongolian people for the 70th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War in 2015. President Vladimir Putin received the gift with a lot of gratitude. This monument was kept in the backyard of our embassy. After my appointment to this position, I established a working group responsible for issues regarding the monument, and thanks to this, the Russian government made the decision to place the monument at Victory Park located at Poklonnaya Hill, a most sacred place in the hearts of the Russian people. Although we tried to place the monument within the two countries' friendship month, the Moscow administration said that it must go through many steps in authorisations and permissions. A total of 43 permissions are required. The last discussion on whether to grant the permission was discussed by the Commission for Monument Art of the Moscow City Duma on October 13, 2016. The government of Moscow said that it would be impossible to place the monument at Victory Park if the commission did not accept the meaning and quality of the monument. So, we had to meet with the council to explain the sentiment behind the monument. Since the beginning of the World War II, Mongolia sent its best horses, a total of half a million horses, to support the fight against fascism under the motto "Everything for Victory." The Mongolian people also experienced five years of hardship together with the Russian people. We explained for over 20 minutes that this monument is a gift from the bottom of the Mongolian people's heart.

The famous film director Sergey Gerasimov and writer Boris Vasilyev supported us by saying, "The coldest winter in the last 100 years occurred in Russia in 1941. All the Siberian soldiers were wearing Mongolian sheepskin coats and felt boots to fight and win the Battle of Moscow under the command 'No retreat – behind us is Moscow'." 

"We always remember our allies. Mongolia is our first ally. This nation dedicated everything they had to support the Soviet people," they noted. Then, there were tears in the eyes of old people participating in the meeting. Thus, we were able to get unanimous approval. Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin decreed to place the monument at Victory Park on July 9 of the next year in accordance with this decision.

- Russians say that they were hardened through three wars, that one must have a patriotic spirit for the country as their motherland was defended at great expense. Do you feel this spirit in the people of Russia?

- Every Russian family truly felt the tragedy of war. The Victory Day proceedings on May 9 show this unforgettable grief. From morning until night, thousands of people hold pictures of their parents and relatives who died during the war. Even little children hold pictures of their great grandparents. Russian people went through the suffering of war, so they are very compassionate and kind-hearted people. I am proud of the Russian people. I started learning Russian in kindergarten, and then went on to study in a Russian secondary school and graduated from a Russian university. My piece of personal pride is that I was able to fluently possess this rich language. I am very grateful to my parents who gave me the opportunity to obtain such an education. Some Russian universities have invited me to make a speech about Mongolia. It would be a huge honour to give a speech and promote my country at these prestigious universities.

- Is there anything else you would like to say on this occasion?

- We are basically wrapping works to organise the 95th anniversary celebrations. Indeed it was a historical anniversary.

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Health & Education

No case of mother-to-child transmission of HIV registered in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) There is no case registered in Mongolia that HIV transmitted from mother to child. This fact was mentioned during a consultative meeting on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of deceases, held yesterday.

"- However, number of cases of mother- to-child transmission of syphilis is still high. Therefore doctors, medical officers and specialists should work highly responsible" underlined chair of Medical aid department of Health Ministry Ya.Buyanjargal.

During the meeting Health ministry officers and specialists discussed about current situation, improving preventive measures, diagnosis and medical treatment regarding mother-to-child transmitted infectious diseases and providing HIV patients with accessible and quality medical services.

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Local medical facilities to receive ambulances

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) During its regular session on January 11, the Cabinet resolved to provide free 2410 tons of hay to provinces and soums in difficult wintering conditions, and 1700 tons of fodder with 50 percent discount.

Also, in order to deliver urgent medical services in rural areas and herding households, the Cabinet issued a resolution to issue UAZ vehicles to medical facilities of 15 soums.

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Health Ministry to focus on medical postgraduate training

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) On January 12, D.Ochirbat, State Secretary of Ministry of Health received a team of a project unit on strengthening postgraduate training for medical staff in the first and the second stages of health organizations of Mongolia.

The State Secretary D.Ochirbat is also a director of the project unit, which is co-implemented by the Health Ministry and JICA.

Participants of the meeting briefed on project actions and activities being implemented since the project has launched. D.Ochirbat, State Secretary mentioned about the significant roles of the project and expressed his willingness to pay attention for the effective implementation of planned works within the project.

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Thoughts and Comments on Organic Mongolia

By Julian Dierkes

Early in December a bit of inspiration struck after I had read an ADB blog post and received a lot of responses to a tweet about that post. I wondered aloud whether it would be possible for Mongolia to go entirely organic.

I received a lot of tweeted, emailed, commented, mentioned-in-conversation replies to that idea and want to offer these here as well. Obviously, I was just presenting an idea and I wasn't making a specific proposal, in part because I don't know very much about Monglian agriculture. My conclusion from these comments is, however, that the idea is a bit radical, maybe even crazy, but that it might be worth thinking about further.

Just to recap: my idea was that since organic agriculture (plants and meat) seems to offer significant high-value export opportunities, why not pursue all-of-country certification for organic produce, i.e. for all agricultural products to be organic?

A number of comments seemed to like the idea, but there were also serious doubts expressed.

How organic is agricultural production now?

One of the premises of my idea was that much of Mongolian agricultural production currently is organic. I therefore imagined that some of the obstacles to organic production in the objections of existing producers might be less strong in the Mongolian context.

It may not be the case that agricultural production is as organic as I imagine. Some comments mentioned that there are examples of farming and animal husbandry practices (particularly around veterinary diseases) that will not stand up to organic certification.

Animal health

The health of Mongolian animals  may be a particular concern in this regard. Yes, for some significant portion of the national herd, animals may be raised in a very organic fashion, foregoing vaccinations and other veterinray intervention, for example, but that also means that animal diseases are fairly widespread. There is a careful balance to be struck between organic practices and health issues, particularly in industrial production and certification.


The cost and organizational effort tied to organic certification are significant. This has been an obstacle to the pursuit of producer-certification in the past.

In part, my idea hopes to side-step this issue by finding some way to actually certify all Mongolian products. Current certification won't allow for that, I don't think, so some creative solutions would be needed  here either in collaborating with certification agents, or in creating a for-Mongolia certification. The various standards that are employed by existing certification schemes are knowable, so they could be compared to come with standards of particular relevance to Mongolia. If those were made known in a transparent manner and enforced with credibility, a Mongolia-only certification could be a solution, I imagine. If such a route was successful, it could even be explored with other countries that could consider a similar switch, perhaps even through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Cooperation Fund, Mongolia's foreign aid program.

Obviously, the proliferation of organic standards is not particularly desirable as it confuses consumers, but if other avenues are not feasible for Mongolia, this should be considered.


But, how to enforce a nation-wide organic agriculture?

The simplest solution would be a ban on imports of relevant chemicals. An example of this is the ban on mercury. But, that is also an example of an ineffective ban as all observers agree that mercury is used extensively in mining, small and medium scale.

Also, as my former PhD student Bern Haggerty pointed out, would a fertilizer ban get by the WTO, for example?

But, if there wasn't an import & production ban, how could nation-wide certification work? And, how could imports be prevented, really?

This seems to be an objection that is both fundamental and practical. I don't quite see how to get around that easily, but others may have ideas/experience from other policy arenas.

General Pessimism

A number of replies also focused on "nice idea, but it'll never happen". We know that the Mongolian state and politicians seem to be particularly challenged by implementing plans and laws that have been developed. There have been a number of past efforts at branding Mongolian products and Mongolia that have not gone anywhere, so why would an all-country organic certification?

I share the pessimism and readily suggested that the idea was a bit crazy. At the same time, the craziness might be just right to make this sort of thing work.

More Comments, Please!

I'm not about to submit a formal proposal to parliament or for funding to support an all-country organic branding, but I'd still be curious to hear more comments. And maybe, some day, something will come of this idea…

Сайхан хооллоорой!

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2017 ACMS Mongolia fellowship opportunities

The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) is offering several fellowship programs for 2017, with some upcoming deadlines in February.  For more information about the different programs, please visit or contact David Dettmann at

ACMS Field Research Fellowship Program provides awards of up $4000 to US citizen students and/or university faculty to conduct academic field research in Mongolia between May and October. The fellowship is supported with funding from the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through a grant by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers. Deadline for receipt of complete applications: February 15, 2017.  

ACMS Library Fellowship Program provides US citizen advanced graduate students or faculty in library science or related fields with up to $4000 to conduct short-term projects and/or research in Mongolia between May and October. This program helps support the development of the ACMS research library through specific defined projects designed to enhance the collection content and resource availability. The fellowship is supported with funding from the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through a grant by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers. Deadline for receipt of complete applications: February 15, 2017.  

ACMS Intensive Mongolian Language Fellowship. Students and scholars are invited to enroll in an eight week Intermediate Intensive Mongolian Language Program at the ACMS in Ulaanbaatar, from mid-June to early August 2017. The focus of this program is to provide students with an opportunity to enhance their communicative competence through systematic improvement of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, in an authentic environment. The Language Program Fellowship covers the cost of tuition. Deadline for receipt of applications: March 1, 2017.

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Culture & Society

Secret History of the Mongols to promote Mongolia

January 12 ( The Government has obliged Erdenes-Tavantolgoi JSC and Erdenes Mongol LLC to support and cooperate Chinggis Khan project, aiming to accelerate tourism development, increase the number of foreign tourists and create new service for tourists. 

In scope of Chinggis Khan project, Mongolia to be promoted through multimedia version of the Secret History of the Mongols. Moreover, exhibition facility at Sukhbaatar square to be established, that is scheduled to serve tourists starting Jun 1, 2017 for six months. 

The exhibition is expected to earn tax revenue of MNT 4-5 billion and attract 1.4 million visitors. 

US$ 2.5 million will be needed to implement the Chinggis Khan project and it has been requested by the Government of Mongolia with two-year term.

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'Mongol Naadam Complex' to cooperate with UNESCO

January 12 ( The 'Mongol Naadam Complex' Public Service Agency has signed a memorandum of cooperation with UNESCO. Under this agreement, the complex will advertise those Mongolia cultural heritage items listed by UNESCO, in order to increase information data and to upgrade the knowledge and skills of the employees.

'Naadam' or the "Three Manly Games" is the key Mongolian traditional festival which has been celebrated through the centuries. The event, which takes place in July, represents Mongolian tradition and culture at its best and offers the country's biggest opportunity to attract tourists.

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Camel herders' festival organized

Ulaanbaatar, January 10 (MONTSAME) "Camels of Great Gobi" a festival of Mongolian camel herders and a regional conference took place in Bayan-Undur soum of Bayankhogor province of Mongolia.

The Governor's Office and the Department of Food and Agriculture of Bayankhongor province and the Governor's Office of Bayan-Undur soum co-organized the event, which was attended by about 100 camel herders with over 150 Bactrian camels from Bayankhongor and Gobi-Altai provinces.

Within the framework of the festival, "Beautiful Couple" competition was held and herder couples from Bayantsagaan soum was selected for good-looking outer appearance of their camels as well as of their own, wearing a traditional Mongolian deel.

The Bactrian camel is a large, even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of Central Asia. It has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped dromedary camel.

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Nature & Environment

Traditional Mongolian herder families endure another severe winter

January 10 (IFRC) Mongolia's last winter season began early, arriving in November 2016 following a cold surge. According to the Mongolian Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, by Mid-December 2016, some 50 percent of the country was covered in snow and faced a high risk of dzud (local term for severe winter). The institute also warned that temperatures could drop as low as minus 40 and 50 degrees Celsius in Northern and Eastern Mongolia, where heavy snows could cause the death of thousands of livestock. 

The current situation is compounded by last year's severe winter, which affected around 965,000 people, mostly herders, and killed more than 1 million livestock. Many herder families are still struggling to cope with dwindling food supplies and to recover their livelihood. Some chose to leave their homes and moved to the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar after losing all their animals. 

By the end of December 2016, there were 21 provinces with 331 soums (Mongolia's subdivision of inhabited areas with population usually varying from several thousand to up to 20,000 inhabitants) in Mongolia were affected by dzud. The slow onset disaster has been particularly difficult for the elderly, single parents, the disabled, and the poor. 

An estimated 157,000 people may be directly affected by the extreme weather conditions this year.  As of early January 2016, 16 provinces in Mongolia were categorized as experiencing dzud, while another 20 provinces were reported as close to having the severe winter conditions.   

"Many herder families are heavily indebted after losing their livestock," said Davaajargal Baasansuren, team leader of the Mongolia Red Cross Disaster Management Programme. "With markets closed or inaccessible in the affected areas, they don't even have money in their hands. This dzud will deal a double blow to vulnerable communities in Mongolia, as it is combines economic crisis and climactic disaster." 

Worsening road conditions is also a concern, as the severe weather would damage roads and restrict access to public healthcare facilities for many communities. 

In response to the situation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund of 177,000 Swiss Francs (around 175,000 US Dollars) to support the Mongolian Red Cross Society in delivering humanitarian aid to affected communities in four of the worst-affected provinces, including Uvz, Zavkhan, Khuvsgul and Selenge. The US government, through USAID has allocated another 100,000 US Dollars to the Red Cross to provide emergency cash assistance to affected herder families.

The cash grants will be distributed to some 1,700 herder families during a three-month period. The unconditional cash support will enable families to utilize the money based on their immediate needs. As part of the relief operation, first aid kits will be distributed, along with training by Red Cross volunteers on how to treat wounds like frostbites for the affected communities.

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Urgent actions planned to improve wintering situations for herders

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) 70 per cent of Mongolian territory is covered with snow and 64 soums of 15 provinces are experiencing hard wintering. 

There is a risk that wintering would get worse in 127 soums of 17 provinces, if heavy snow and severe cold continue further. In connection with it, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry was instructed to organize meat preparation works urgently to generate income for herders and prevent from insufficiency of meat supply in rural areas and overpricing of meat.

The issue was discussed during the yesterday's Cabinet meeting and the Government decided to make reservation of 30 thousand tons of meat, purchasing from herders in the 127 soums of 17 provinces, where a risk of hard wintering is faced.

The required money for meat preparations will be financed from commercial banks' sources and loan interest will be repaid from budget for incentives of Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

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UNFPA preserves dignity first for women and girls affected by the near dzud

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) to the Water, Climate and Environmental Research Institute reports dated on January 3, 2017, the winter condition has become difficult in 127 soums of 17 provinces and 2 districts of Ulaanbaatar city and directly affecting the lives of nomadic, herding households in Mongolia. In response, UNFPA takes the lead in addressing the special needs of women and girls in the affected communities via procuring of 2,465 Dignity Kits amounted of MNT 160,000,000. These Dignity Kits were handed over by UNFPA today to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for immediate distribution to the aforementioned areas.

The UNFPA signature Dignity Kits are designed and assembled to help women and girls maintain an acceptable level of hygiene, sanitation, health and well-being within the context of humanitarian situations. Dignity kits include such items as sanitary supplies, clothes, socks and underwear; laundry soaps and bath soaps; towels; and toothbrushes and toothpaste. Additionally, they also included a torch with batteries so that women will have the ability to travel or move about safely at night, as well as an emergency whistle in cases of distress – it has been proven that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to gender-based and sexual violence in the wake of natural disasters among other challenges. 

"Unfortunately, the needs of women and girls are often not prioritized and even forgotten in the Dzud. The needs of women and girls might be secondary when affected families face economic pressures from the loss of livelihood and have to cope with limitations of resources such as the lack of disposable income. Further, environmental impediments to mobility due to the heavy snow, bars access to necessary everyday items that women and girls need," says Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative. "However, UNFPA believes that women are the backbone of Mongolian society and that preserving their dignity, their sense of well-being and their health should come first. This is essential to surviving such a disaster and to successfully moving forward".

UNFPA assistance in distributing these Dignity Kits in the affected areas is also part of our efforts aimed to ensure a strong capacity of the NEMA, which is the leading agency to coordinate and manage the disaster response interventions in the country. NEMA is a central national agency which effectively responds to emergencies and coordinates response interventions. It is important that special needs of the women and girls are placed at the heart of the disaster preparedness and response actions.

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Snow Blankets Northern Mongolia

January 10 (NASA Earth Observatory) For the second year in a row, Mongolians are grappling with an unusually cold and snowy winter.

In a country with many herder families that graze livestock on open steppe, extreme winter weather can prove disastrous if large numbers of animals starve due to thick snow and ice covering grazing lands. These events are known locally as dzuds.

On January 9, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of snow across northern Mongolia. An estimated 157,000 Mongolians now face dzud conditions, according to ReliefWeb. During winter 2016, more than one million cattle died during a similar event.


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Western Mongolia to be prevented from land degradation

January 9 (MONTSAME) Western Mongolia is the most remote, ethnically diverse, and mountainous region of Mongolia, with thousands of years of history of human occupation. Its' relatively intact and ecologically diverse landscapes provide habitat for seasonal migrations, predator-prey interactions, and natural river flow to occur that are all but lost in many regions of the world. They also support almost 38,000 nomadic and semi-nomadic herding families who rely directly upon the ecosystem services provide by the region's sparsely inhabited grasslands.

Although mining is relatively less developed in the Western provinces, it is predicted to develop rapidly here in the future. Therefore UNDP and Global Environment Fund are to assist the Government of Mongolia to reduce negative impacts of mining on rangelands in the western mountain and steppe region. On December 09, "Land Degradation Offset and Mitigation in Western Mongolia" project was launched.

"- Land degradation is one of the greatest environmental challenges in Mongolia. Seventy per cent of its land already degraded, and a quarter has turned to desert. Climate change and human activity are destroying the country's remarkable landscapes, threatening its ecosystems and wildlife. It is therefore crucial that Mongolia develops and applies policies to mitigate such damage, and rehabilitate its land. While mining is currently less developed in the Western region, it is likely to see rapid development in mining in the years to come, as the economy grows. But herder livelihoods depend – and will continue to depend – on these unique landscapes, rangelands and ecosystems. It is therefore vital to put in place a system to reduce and offset or compensate for land degradation in Western Mongolia now. It is also an opportunity to further develop good practices for working together on sustainable land use across the country in future" noted Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.

"Land degradation offsetting", which aims to ensure positive impacts of development activities is an emerging practice worldwide. Its introduction in Mongolia marks a major step forward in the country and will be a key part of this project, she said.

The project will focus on two components. The first component will support further development of the mitigation hierarchy and offsetting framework for land degradation in the planning and management system of mining concessions at the national level, in order to reduce threats to land and water resources and ecosystem integrity. It will emplace participatory and eco-regional assessments as the basis for integrated land use planning by the Government across 41.5 million ha of production system and natural habitat in western Mongolia.

This will be achieved by incorporating science-based mitigation hierarchy into mining concession planning and provincial land use planning and management of competing land use types, and setting aside ecologically sensitive areas from mining related development. Institutional and personnel capacity for mitigating and offsetting the impacts of mining will be developed for local level.

The second component will demonstrate application of mitigation hierarchy and offsets to mining impacts through integrated sustainable land management practices within selected pilot landscapes. Khotgor coal mine, Khushuut coal mine and Bayan Airag gold mine were selected as three pilot landscapes of the project. Local herders and farmers, as primary resource users, and local Government will implement landscape-level land use plans to address land degradation challenges from competing uses.

Specifically, the project will pilot best practice operationalization of the mitigation hierarchy and land degradation offset mechanisms in the selected landscapes by the mining companies. Integrated landscape management and offset mechanisms will be demonstrated covering at least 100.000 ha with prominent mining concessions and other competing land uses. Increased investments in sustainable land management actions in the landscape will help to rehabilitate lands and reduce the protected rate of land degradation and biodiversity loss. "-This project will reach across many areas. It seeks to strengthen the policy, legal and planning frameworks, to address the environmental impacts of mining. It will also apply the best practices for land restoration and enable cross-sector collaboration, for sustainable land use" said Mrs Beate Trankmann.

The western region, the project's target area, stretches 700 km from north to south and comprises three major ecological zones: desert steppe (in the south), mountain-steppe, and steppe. To the east are the Khangai Mountains, while the foothills of the Altai Mountains run from North West to South East, rising in the west to panoramic glaciers and snow-covered 4000m+ summits. This mountain complex has exceptionally high levels of plant richness and endemism, including 2,500 vascular plant species with over 120 strictly endemic species. The basins of several great lakes are also situated in the region, including Uvs Lake, Khar Us Lake, Khyargas Lake and numerous smaller lakes.

The forest area in the western region is relatively limited at 3,555,700 ha of which about 70% is Saxaul forest. Several priority species such as the globally endangered snow leopard (Unica unica) and its main prey species the Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), and the argali inhabit the Western provinces. Twenty four nationally protected areas covering 11.35 millionha have been designated in Western Mongolia as well as a further 196 locally protected areas covering a further 2.08 million ha.

These include LPAs such as "Gulzat" (126,772 ha) close to the Khotgor mining landscape in Uvs Aimag, which was established in 2006 to develop a model for sustainable community-based tourism and conservation. The economy in the western provinces is dominated by the livestock sector, although the number of herder households is declining. Cultivated areas are even more limited than in other parts of the country. Mining is relatively less developed in the Western Provinces (393 exploration and exploitation licenses covering almost 2.6 million ha. in November 2014).

With the project's official launch, a MoU was signed between Governors and Mining Companies of three pilot sites of the project, along with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism so these plans translate into action. With this joint statement of intent, mining companies are showing their willingness to make Sustainable Land management as part of their businesses.

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Environment Ministry to cooperate with NGOs

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) On January 12, D.Oyunkhorol, Minister of Environment and Tourism and S.Erdene, Head of Mongolian Environment Civil Counsel signed a memorandum of cooperation in 2017-2018.

The Mongolian Environment Civil Counsel is an umbrella organization that unites over 1400 NGOs engaged in environmental protection, rehabilitation and environmental training and research.  

After signing the memorandum, Minister D.Oyunkhorol highlighted that as a result of the bilateral cooperation, NGOs are becoming more specialized, diversified and empowered. Those NGOs are significant for improving the public knowledge on environment, creating eco-friendly attitude and skills, enabiling the public to become active participant in decision-making process toward the local development.

In turn, S.Erdene said that the Mongolian environment confronts many types of challenges. She confirmed that the Mongolian Environment Civil Counsel is ready to promote activities and state policy documents. "We are confident that the bilateral cooperation will solve environmental issues".

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Scholars' research works discussed at UNESCO international conference

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) The third international conference on "Natural condition and territorial location aspects influencing in socio-economic development" opened today.

Some 200 researchers and scientists from UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific, UN European economic commission, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and Mongolian universities participated in the conference,  discussing  103 reports  regarding environmental issues including resource of water and its protection, state of forest and land, climate change, tourism and urban planning.

The minister of Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol highlighted that the ministry needs professional recommendations, results of studies and researches to develop policy and regulations on environment and nature protection.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism, organizer of the conference had released two volumes which contain the reports of the conference.

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Hundreds of endangered saiga antelopes die from disease in Mongolia

ULAN BATOR Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- About 900 saiga antelopes a critically endangered species have died in western Mongolia from a contagious disease the Mongolian government said Wednesday.

The bodies of the dead saiga antelopes were found in the two western provinces of Khovd and Govi-Altai. Experts said the wild animals died from "cattle plague" also known as Rinderpest according to the country's National Emergency Management Agency.

As a disease affecting cloven hoofed animals "cattle plague" has led to the mass deaths of goats and sheep in the country since March 2016. Experts believed that saiga antelopes caught the disease from sheep and goat herds sharing the same pastureland with the rare species.

Local authorities have banned the grazing of livestock animals in the areas where the dead saiga antelopes were found and imposed a quarantine to prevent the further spread of the disease.

During an emergency meeting held on Wednesday the Mongolian government decided to ask for international assistance in combatting the plague.

Saiga antelopes currently live only in Mongolia and Kazakhstan. A 2014-2015 joint study by the Mongolian government and World Wildlife Fund (WWF)found that there were 13500 to 14600 saiga antelopes in western Mongolia.

Since March 2016 about 12000 sheep and goats have died from "cattle plague" in the province of Khovd.

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Rampant infection hits rare Mongolian, January 11

Over 500 Mongolian Saigas Die in a Disease Outbreak Wildlife Conservation Network, January 11

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2016 archaeological findings introduced

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) An academic conference designated to introduce the outcome of archaeological expeditions conducted in Mongolia begins today at Mongolian University of Science and Technology, assembling archaeologists who have enriched the existing list of Mongolian archaeological treasures with their fresh finds in 2016.

The 'Mongolian Archeology – 2016' conference presents the most interesting archaeological findings including unique petroglyphs and iron melting furnace of Hunnu era discovered in Erdenetsagaan soum, Sukhbaatar province, Xianbei era tombs found in Nogoonnuur soum, Bayan-Ulgii province and Jargalant soum of Orkhon province, Turkic and Uighur aristocrats' scared tomb and rock grave found in Bayan-Ulgii and Khovd provinces.

In 2016, Mongolian archaeologists have realized projects and programs in cooperation with scholars and organizations from 12 countries to conduct researches in more than 50 soums of 18 provinces.

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Mongolia makes moves to shut down fossil black market

January 10 (AFP) For years, herder Gelegrash had a sideline bringing tourists to see a dinosaur skull hidden near the Flaming Cliffs in Mongolia's Gobi Desert. Then, one day, it was gone.

It is one of thousands of ancient fossils that have disappeared from the country since American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews – supposedly the inspiration for the film character Indiana Jones – discovered dinosaur eggs there nearly a century ago.

Palaeontologists and smugglers alike have descended on the sands ever since.

Now the Mongolian government is mounting a campaign to reclaim the lost relics, hoping to bring home fossils long held in foreign museums and the curiosity cabinets of private collectors – such as Hollywood star Nicolas Cage – who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for them on the open market.

In his yurt near the red sandstone cliffs, Gelegrash laughed about the skull's potential value: "If I had known it was worth so much, I would have sold it myself."

The dinosaur repatriation drive began when the husband of the country's then culture, sport and tourism minister Oyungerel Tsedevdamba learned a New York auction house was to sell a rare, nearly complete Tarbosaur bataar specimen – a smaller, fiercer cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex .

Palaeontologists confirmed that all known specimens of the fearsome reptile had come from Mongolia's Nemegt basin, raising the question of how it ended up in Manhattan.

Removing fossils from the country is illegal, but "nobody knew what to do exactly", Oyungerel said. "Nobody had claimed dinosaurs from abroad before."

Since Chapman Andrews' discovery, hundreds of expeditions have travelled to Mongolia to look for fossils, some with official blessing, others digging them up illegally and smuggling them out of the country.

It is nearly impossible to prevent thefts from Mongolia's vast steppe, said Surenjav Munkhsaikhan, 31, who manages the national park where Chapman found the eggs.

She is the only full-time guardian of over 10,000 hectares of fossil-rich desert, working with police and her volunteer deputy Gelegrash to combat crimes ranging from illegal mining to the theft of rare plants.

She patrols the area on an old motorbike and said she "really wants some drones".

For now the only way she knows a fossil has been stolen is when customs agents catch a smuggler, or one of Gelegrash's fellow herders complains about losing their source of income.

"We never caught or arrested any of those thieves," she said.

The Tarbosaur bataar in New York – estimated to be 70 million years old – was far from the first fossil to leave Mongolia, but quickly captured the national imagination, and Mongolia's President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj took the case directly to the US government.

In 2012, a US federal prosecutor filed a lawsuit seeking the forfeiture of the relic from the firm that auctioned it. The case ended in victory – two years after the suit was filed, the fossil was heading home to Mongolia.

More importantly, the ruling was an important step towards undermining the entire underground trade, Oyungerel said. The US was the "end point where all fossils were going – we wanted to shut down that market".

Mongolia has since recovered around 30 fossils "directly from the smugglers' hands", Oyungerel said.

Some collectors have also begun to return their fossils voluntarily, among them Cage, who bought his T. bataar skull at auction for US$276,000 before learning it had been smuggled out of Mongolia.

Authorities were once slow to recognise the value of Mongolia's palaeontological heritage, according to Oyungerel, while Mongolians regarded dinosaurs as "just bones".

But last year, a museum dedicated to the recovered specimens opened in Ulan Bator's former Lenin museum, a remnant from the country's Communist past.

A monumental bust of the founder of the Soviet Union used to occupy centre spot in the exhibition hall but now lies in pieces behind the building, with T. Bataar standing in his place.

The museum has reserved space for more recoveries. Among those the most symbolically important targets are Chapman Andrews' specimens, now in the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York.

When he took them, he signed a contract promising to return them to the country.

But AMNH officials are reluctant to give up their prized specimens, according to sources familiar with the matter, citing concerns about Mongolia's ability to manage the collection.

Similar arguments have been cited elsewhere over other demands for heritage restitution, such as Greece's Elgin Marbles, now in the British Museum in London, or the Benin Bronzes of Nigeria, now scattered between museums in Britain, Germany and the US.

The AMNH declined a request from AFP for comment.

Surenjav and Gelegrash hope that the fossils can one day return to their original resting place in the Mongolian desert.

The herder admits the campaign has changed his perception of dinosaur remains.

He used to value them for a different use: "They're good for health," he said, as he poked at a small, white fossil sticking out of the red earth. "I sometimes ground them up and gave them to my livestock."

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Mountaineer B.Gangaamaa says every mountain is her 'teacher'

January 12 (UB Post) State Honored Athlete B.Gangaamaa conquered her seventh summit of the world, Vinson Massif (4,892 m), on December 26 and returned home on January 8.

The first Mongolian mountaineer to conquer the Seven Summits of the World, B.Gangaamaa held a press conference on January 9 at the Physical Culture and Sports Authority.

During the press conference, head of the Physical Culture and Sports Authority Ts.Sharavjamts congratulated B.Gangaamaa on becoming the 19th female mountaineer to conquer the Seven Summits of the World, and handed a silver bowl and khadag (ceremonial scarf).

Below is an interview with mountaineer B.Gangaamaa.

Congratulations on conquering the Seven Summits of the World. How did you feel when you raised the state flag on Vinson Massif?

Thank you. I am very happy that I became the first Mongolian mountaineer who climbed all seven summits. I have been dreaming of conquering the Seven Summits for many years, and I finally did it.

The last summit was Vinson Massif. Every mountain is difficult to climb. Mountaineers have to be patient and brave. It was really cold in Antarctica. I said to myself, "I conquered the Seven Summits. I did it," when I raised the state flag on top of Mount Vinson. Mountaineers don't have a chance to stay long on top of a mountain.

How much money did you spend to climb Vinson Massif?

We spent 48,000 USD. I want to highlight that we collected this huge amount of money through donations. Thank you all.

Mountains feed me. I dedicate my income for climbing. Some people asked: How do you live if you spend all your money for climbing? So many people keep sponsoring and helping me.

Antarctica is known to be a home for penguins. Did you take pictures with penguins?

I saw penguins and took photos of them. I thought penguins were big, but I was wrong. They were very small.

Do you feel afraid before climbing a mountain?

You can't conquer the highest mountains of the world if you can't face your fears. So mountaineers have to forget their fears before we leave the country. Some mountaineers die during a climb. That's a hard and scary moment for sure. But we can't stop climbing, because conquering mountains is our purpose. Every single mountain is a teacher for mountaineers.

In 2013, I climbed Broad Peak (8,051 m), the 12th highest mountain in the world, with 67 mountaineers. Three of them have died. At that time, I stopped climbing and tried to rescue them. Unfortunately, they were already dead when I reached them. The mountaineering sport is so harsh and cruel.

Your dream was to conquer the Seven Summits. What's your new goal?

My dream and purpose didn't finish with me conquering the Seven Summits. I am planning to conquer many more mountains.

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Kisenosato, Hakuho among unbeatens

January 12 (Kyodo) Ozeki Kisenosato and yokozuna Hakuho were forced to work hard for their wins Thursday to remain in a five-way lead at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

On the fifth day of the 15-day tourney, Kisenosato survived the powerful shoves of Mitakeumi (3-2), who has so far defeated two yokozuna and an ozeki, and finished the top maegashira off by edging him out of the ring at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

In the penultimate bout, Hakuho suffered a scare as he almost lost balance while trying to catch Shohozan (2-3), but the Mongolian yokozuna managed to thrust the second-ranked maegashira down at the edge.

Kisenosato improved his record against Mitakeumi to 3-0, while Hakuho has won all 12 meetings with Shohozan.

Rank-and-filers Sadanoumi, Sokokurai and Takanoiwa all posted their fifth straight wins in consecutive bouts early in the makuuchi division.

No. 15 maegashira Sadanoumi bulldozed out 11th-ranked Nishikigi (2-3) for his first victory in their fourth meeting.

Tenth-ranked Sokokurai from China's Inner Mongolia twirled down 14th-ranked Chiyotairyu (2-3) with an underarm throw, and No. 10 maegashira Takanoiwa slapped 14th-ranked Chiyootori (1-4) by the shoulder and sent him falling forward.

While other yokozuna and ozeki have generally been lackluster at this tourney, Mongolian yokozuna Harumafuji (3-2) won his second straight after losing two in a row by flipping third-ranked Okinoumi (2-3) over to his side.

Ozeki Goeido took little time to force out Arawashi in their first career match and picked up his third win while handing the No. 2 maegashira his fifth loss.

On the downside, Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu (3-2) took his second straight loss, stumbling to the ground after his slap missed hard-shoving komusubi Takayasu (3-2).

Demotion-threatened Kotoshogiku (2-3) fell to top maegashira Takarafuji (1-4), and fellow ozeki Terunofuji got his fourth loss at the hands of sekiwake Tamawashi (4-1) in a battle of Mongolian grapplers.

Top flight newcomer Takakeisho (1-4) got his maiden makuuchi win as the No. 12 maegashira shoved out 16th-ranked Egyptian Osunaarashi (3-2).

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MP D.Sumiyabazar to head Mongolian Wrestling Federation

January 10 (UB Post) Member of Parliament D.Sumiyabazar has been elected president of the Mongolian Wrestling Federation on January 6, during the federation's executive committee meeting.

General director of Zes Erdeniin Huvi LLC D.Altankhuyag, president of Genco Club Kh.Battuul and MP D.Sumiyabazar were nominated for the Mongolian Wrestling Federation's presidency.

Seventeen members of the executive committee were introduced to the action plans of three nominees at the meeting.

MP D.Sumiyabazar has previously been vice president of the federation.

Secretary general of the federation O.Bayanmunkh resigned due to health issues. Senior coach of the national women's freestyle wrestling team B.Batbayar was appointed as secretary general.

Currently, D.Sumiyabazar and the executive committee are working to form the national men's and women's freestyle wrestling teams and appoint their coaches.

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Weightlifter B.Tungalag brims with passion for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

January 11 (UB Post) International Sports Master B.Tungalag has been under the spotlight after smashing the state record for the clean and jerk in the women's 48 kg by lifting 90 kg at the latest State Weightlifting Championship. To date, the athlete has broken more than 50 state records.

The interview below delves into 17-year-old B.Tungalag's experience at the State Weightlifting Championship, which took place on January 3 and 4. The rising-star athlete revealed that she is hoping to win a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Can you share your comments on winning the State Weightlifting Championship in the women's 48 kg?

The Mongolian Weightlifting Federation organized its first competition for this year, the State Weightlifting Championship. Weightlifting competitions always kick off with the 48 kg competitions. I was the first athlete to lift this time. I'm elated to have won the first medal and renewed the state record. The competition was very successful. Many records were broken. Eight athletes set new state records at the latest championships.

How many athletes competed in the 48 kg weight class?

This year, there were relatively few participants. I think there were five or six opponents. Another contestant was able to meet requirements for the vice master of sports' title. My opponents were really strong. They've always been great. I lifted 155 kg in total at the State Weightlifting Championships. The runner-up in my division, the one who qualified for the vice master of sports title, pressed a total of 105 kg in the clean and jerk.

Where do you currently train?

I'm a senior at a middle school of sports. I also undergo training at Avragch (Saver) Sports Committee. I plan to enroll into the Police Academy once I graduate.

How long have you been weightlifting? Why did you choose this sport?

It's been four years now. My relatives are athletes. I started regularly lifting weights in eighth grade. That year, the State Junior Weightlifting Championship was held in Ulaanbaatar. I came to the city center from Baganuur District to watch the competition. It was really interesting to watch and that's when I decided to become an athlete. Children who were much younger than me were winning medals. I thought I could also do weightlifting and I was motivated to start training.

Weightlifting is a strenuous sport, especially for women. How did your parents react when you first told your parents that you wanted to become a weightlifter?

They weren't supportive at first. In fact, everyone discouraged me, saying that I shouldn't and couldn't do it. People used to ask me if I lifted weights, but now, they ask me if I'm an athlete. I was a small and fragile girl so people doubted my strength.

You've broken many state records. Exactly how many have you broken?

The first time I set a record was two years ago during the State Junior Weightlifting Championships, held in Baganuur District. The previous clean and jerk event record was 44 kg, but I lifted 48 kg. I pressed 45 kg in the first round and 48 kg in the next round. Since then, I've been breaking the state record one by one. Before I realized, I'd set the state record over 50 times.

You reset the state record once again at the start of this year. Did you break the record you set?

Last December, I broke a record that hadn't been broken for four years. The state record was 77 kg in the clean and jerk and I made it 85 kg. This time, I lifted 90 kg.

What's the secret to your endless achievements? Is it regular workout or good technique?

Technique is more important than strength in weightlifting. It doesn't mean that a strong child can succeed as a weightlifter. You can press heavy barbells without injuring yourself only by learning techniques correctly. I lifted 85 kg last December. I increased it by five kg and received a lot of compliments. I had the potential to lift 90 kg last December, but missed the chance with a slight mistake. I had lifted it but couldn't manage to hold it long enough. I promised myself to lift 90 kg no matter what back then. I was able to fulfill it this year.

What is your personal record in the snatch?

It used to be 60 kg. I renewed it to 70 kg last December. I did quite badly in the snatch event at this year's State Weightlifting Championships. I'd signed up for 71 kg but I lost it. I will definitely set a new record of 71 kg in the next competition. Had I successfully lifted it, my total score could have become 161 kg.

You're in the spotlight. How much would you need to lift to win a medal at the World Weightlifting Championships?

It's possible to secure a bronze if the total score of the two weightlifting events reach at least 170 kg. I'm confident that I can claim a medal in international competitions if I competed against children and my peers.

You're likely to win a medal if you press 80 kg in the snatch and 100 kg in the clean and jerk. Although it sounds easy, it's actually pretty hard to do it in real life. Adding just a kg makes it hard to lift. You don't feel much difference when one or two kg weights are added during a competition, but the time seems to slow when you are holding it up. I have to keep holding 90 kg to get it cleared. I'll have to train harder to be able to lift 90 kg every time. If I'm able to do so, I can improve my own record later. More training is needed until then.

Have you competed in international competitions?

I've never traveled overseas to take part in a competition. However, I won the women's 48 kg event at the Temuulen International Weightlifting Competition, held in Mongolia last year. Other than that, I haven't participated in international events. I now have the ability and skill to compete in continental and world competitions. The only problem that stops me from taking part in international competitions is finance.

Schedules of international weightlifting competitions are released on the internet and I look it up all the time. There were competitions I was confident that I could win a medal from if I participate, but I pass the thought with regret. I really want to compete in a competition abroad this year. Even so, my coach will decide which competitions and tournaments I compete in. There's financial issues as well.

Mongolian athletes participate in competitions overseas with the support from sponsors. Don't you have that kind of opportunities?

That's true. I hear about athletes getting sponsors, but I don't have a person or company that supports me. My parents pay my entrance fee for tournaments. I don't idly sit around either. I've met with quite a few companies and organizations. Although they say that they want to help me out, they don't support me right before a competition, saying they can't afford it because of economic difficulties. Most places do this.

Not many people or organizations are willing to support weightlifters. Freestyle wrestlers and judokas, on the other hand, seem to receive a lot of support. The amount of support given to weightlifters is increasing nowadays, though. Recently, M.Ankhtsetseg did well at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Some people probably thought it might not be a bad choice to invest in weightlifters. Since then, the public response and attention to weightlifters has improved quite a bit.

Which competitions do you plan to compete in next?

Competitions for this year have started with the State Weightlifting Championships. The State Youth Weightlifting Championships will be held in March. I can't participate in junior competitions anymore because I'll be 18 this year. I will take part in youth and senior competitions from now on.

I want to reset my personal record in the snatch at the State Youth Weightlifting Championships. I wonder if I can lift more than 70 kg. Still, I will work hard to achieve it. I can lift 71 kg or more in the snatch if I train well enough before the actual championships in March. I work out six times a week. I can improve my achievements if I train harder.

Athletes have started to train for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Are you planning to take part in the Summer Olympics as well?

My biggest ambition right now is to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. To do that, I have to participate in many competition beforehand and earn a quota. If I get the chance, I will grab it. I can immediately get an Olympic quota if I win a medal at the World Weightlifting Championships.

Your most recent total score was 155 kg. Athletes need to lift over 170 kg – sometimes almost 200 kg – to stand out on the world stage. What's stopping you from achieving this?

I wouldn't say I lack training because I'm doing my best every day. The only thing I'm short of is people to support me and my team. I hope people can help me with my protein supplements and vitamins. I think I can do better without having to worry about these things. Competing with athletes from all over the world will motivate me a lot so I earnestly want to participate in international competitions.

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Art & Entertainment

This Mongolian electrician sings EXACTLY like Elvis and just won this year's Mongolia's Got Talent

January 12 (Techly) There are many things that theoretically would stop O.Enkh-Erdene from becoming a world-famous country singer, but none of them did.

For instance:

1. He lives in Mongolia.
2. He is Mongolian.
3. Mongolia is about as far removed from southern America as possible.
4. He is an electrician…and not a country singer.
5. He speaks exactly how you would expect a Mongolian to speak.
6. If someone was to ask you, 'draw a character who is the exact opposite to a stereotypical country and western singer' – there's a 99% you would draw this guy.

So I guess you could say the cards weren't exactly stacked in his favour.

But now the 20-year-old is well on his way to becoming a unique global sensation after being crowned the winner of Mongolia's Got Talent's second season.

When he wandered out on stage and said he was going to sing the country classic, 'Amarillo by Morning', the crowd and judges were understandably bemused.

But as soon as he started the opening lines, everyone in the room knew they were witnessing something remarkable.

Look, you could actually pinpoint the exact moment some hearts in the crowd melt.

That was only the beginning for Enkh-Erdene though, as he only got better and better as the competition went on – even smashing classics by the King himself with his killer rendition of Elvis Presley's 'Don't Be Cruel'.

He took home a cool one million MNT prize money (about $55,000 AUD) for his efforts. (100 million)

It just goes to show that even the most unlikely of people can succeed if you work your butt off, set yourself goals and take a plunge into the deep unknown.

If a guy in a remote community in the middle of central Asia can become a superstar in a genre almost exclusively reserved for crooners in America's south then so can you.

(Well…not…become a country singer necessarily…you know what I mean!)

No matter how outrageous, how far-fetched, how seemingly impossible the odds may be stacked against you – let this be a lesson that NO dream is too far out of reach!

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'The Eagle Huntress' World Press Tour Could Be Its Own Documentary

January 10 (Uproxx) One of the nice surprises of this awards season has been the The Eagle Huntress, which is starting to feel like "the little movie that could" since its debut way back at Sundance last January. The documentary is about a 13-year-old girl in Mongolia, Aisholpan, who is training to be an eagle hunter – a traditionally male tradition. And, yes, she's met with (to put it kindly) many skeptics.

Last week, publicist Peggy Siegal held an afternoon tea in the film's honor at Manhattan's Plaza Athénée, including a talk between noted hunting bird enthusiast, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and the film's director, Otto Bell.

(As an aside, when I first arrived I noticed a huge owl and immediately took a picture while saying something like, "Ohhh, an owl!" I then later realized the man holding the owl was Robert Kennedy Jr. I then later found out they brought an owl instead of an eagle because an eagle can kill a human by piercing the skull with its talons. So there's that.)

As the press tour for The Eagle Huntress reaches a full year, it's striking to watch a film about this family who lives in such a remote part of the world and contrast that with this whirlwind tour they've been on to promote the film. They were first in Park City, Utah last January. Then I got an opportunity to meet the Eagle Huntress herself at an event at the Toronto Film Festival. They've since seen the ocean for the first time while in Los Angeles (and rode a roller coaster) and then visited the desert while in Qatar.

After the event, I spoke to director Otto Bell and asked about Aisholpan and her family's whirlwind world tour. (And he gave me a photo of the family riding a roller coaster for the first time.)

"I took them to the ocean for the first time in Santa Monica," says Bell. "They had never seen the ocean before, I so I took them to the ocean and we splashed around. We then went up on the pier and went on the roller coaster for the first time. I hate roller coasters! She loved it. I actually have a photograph, I've got it if you want to see it."

Bell continues, "You know how she's this physical, winning person? You know those games that are supposed to be rigged on the pier? She won all of those. And then was so surprised when she got this five-foot teddy bear. It got its own seat back to Mongolia."

Bell then shared a story about their trip to Qatar for a film festival (where they wound up winning an award for the film). "We went out to Qatar, we won that film festival, actually, but one of the sheiks was really taken with the story and the film and invited them out to his palace in the desert to go falcon hunting with him. He has like 300 falcons."

What does the future hold for Aisholpan? Bell has made it clear that with the success of the film, she will be well taken care of financially. Bell adds, "I think she's very keen to study abroad. She wants to go to college and learn medicine in a foreign country – and I think that will happen for her. My hope is that they have options. They've enjoyed the traveling, but they haven't chosen to move to the city or anything like that."

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"The Sun Foal" painting exhibition opens

Ulaanbaatar, January 12 (MONTSAME) "The Sun Foal" personal exhibition by D.Batmunkh, painter and teacher of the Mongolian Fine Art Institute opened on January 12 at the Purple Art Gallery.

The exhibition is unveiling 16 oil paintings by D.Batmunkh, who aims to portray the Mongolian horses and images of courageous characters of Mongolian people with the help of numerous of natural color dyeing.

D.Batmunkh has been working as a teacher of the Mongolian Fine Art Institute since 1994. He organized a series of his exhibition named "The Sky Horses" in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007.

The exhibition runs through January 26.

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'Mind One' rings in the new year at Art Mongolia Gallery

January 10 (UB Post) Art Mongolia Gallery (AMG) is hosting "Mind One", a group exhibition by young artists under 30, through January 10.

AMG plans to organize group exhibitions for young artists twice a year. "Mind One" is the first exhibition for youth organized by AMG since it first opened in August 2016.

From December 20 to 24, AMG evaluated submissions of fine art, ceramics, sculpture, graphic art, and illustration for inclusion in the exhibition, conducting an open curatorial process to encourage and motivate young artists. A wood block print by U.Erdenetsetseg was selected as the exhibition's best artwork on December 26.

Artist U.Erdenetsetseg received the opportunity to work in AMG's studio for the first six months of 2017, and to present a solo exhibition there before June.

B.Azbayar, a member of AMG's Board of Directors, said AMG selected artwork for "Mind One" that reflected new ideas and creative initiative, and that represented great effort.

He emphasized that U.Erdenetsetseg is a young and motivated artist, and that she invested a lot of time and effort to create her wood block print.

B.Azbayar added that promoting young artists is of great importance to maintaining and developing Mongolian art, and taking it to a new level. He said that AMG has nearly 20 member artists, and that the gallery helps provide its member artists with studio space.

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State Commission extends inspection of new UB airport

Ulaanbaatar, January 11 (MONTSAME) State Commission inspection of the construction of new international airport or officially New Ulaanbaatar International Airport (NUBIA) which is located in Khushig Valley, Tuv province has been extended until January 18.

On January 2, a 57-member State Commission launched the inspection at the NUBIA project to complete the Mongolian Government's acceptance of the construction works, and was expected to wrap up on January 11, today. However, during its inspection, the State Commission has detected 1164 violations which are being corrected currently.

Now, the State Commission working group is to function at the airport until January 18, finalize their concluding report and introduce it to the Cabinet.

Started in June 2013, the construction progress of Mongolia's new international airport is expected to be handed over to Mongolian Government this month. But, the airport won't launch its operation for another six months or a year.

By direct funding from the Mongolian Government, 3 buildings –Airport Maintenance, Cargo Terminal, General Administration are being constructed, and are expected to be completed by next year.

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