Monday, February 20, 2017

[IMF deal signed; DBM holders offered new notes; AKM signs UBTZ deal; MNT holds steady last week; and experts demand ETT reform]

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Monday, February 20, 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

·         Government of Mongolia Offers to Exchange New Notes for Guaranteed DBM Notes

·         MMC Plans to Seek Hearings about Cayman Scheme & HK Scheme

·         Northern Railways and Ulaanbaatar Railways JSC sign Cooperation Agreement

·         Will Kincora Copper be the next 10 bagger copper explorer?

·         Kincora Copper boss keen to get drills turning in Mongolia within six months

·         Eumeralla: Interim Financial Report, December 2016

Local Market

·         MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -0.02%, ALL -0.38%, Turnover ₮311M Shares, ₮10.1B T-Bill Primary, ₮2.9B Secondary

·         MoF moves up February 28 government securities trading on MSE to February 23


·         MNT holds steady last week, up 0.02% vs USD

·         BoM issues ₮195 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +29.9% to ₮428.4 billion

·         BoM: NPLs +0.4% in January, +18% YoY to ₮1.05 Trillion, 8.6% of Total Loans

·         BoM: Money Supply Falls 1.6% in January to ₮11.9 Trillion, Up 20.6% from 2016      

·         Mongolia dodges bond default, agrees to bailout with IMF

·         Video: Mongolia Reaches Agreement With IMF

Politics & Legal

·         Label of Erdenet 'Nationalization' Misleading

·         Experts call on the government to protect Erdenes TT shareholders' interests

·         P.Tsagaan confronts DP related rumors, why he withdrew from chairmanship race

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for February 17, 2017

·         Jargal Defacto: Free up prices and dismantle monopolies


·         Technology & Investment to Mongolia 2017 Conference, April 20-21

·         Huntsman and Tengri launch limited edition 'Noble' yak fabrics

·         Wool products handmade by herder women popular in France

·         Shipping rate request from Canada to Mongolia by Air

·         IFC to start development of 'Green Buildings'


·         Parents planning to hold third protest against air pollution

·         Ulaanbaatar to host JCI Asia Pacific Conference


·         Mongolian FM to visit China this Sunday

·         Mongolia Foreign Minister: We Prioritize Ties with Russia and China

·         EU Parliament Approves Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation with Mongolia

·         Factsheet on the EU-Mongolia Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation

·         Rs 50 million Mongolia aid: Setback to India foreign policy?

·         Canada Fund financed 447 projects in 240 soums in last 20 years

·         Prime Minister and Governor of Irkutsk meet to develop economic cooperation

·         Speaker discusses energy megaproject cooperation with Irkutsk governor

·         Selenge Province to celebrate Russian Maslenitsa butter on Sunday

Health & Education

·         Public health services and accessibility to be improved

·         NUM students continues to protest 'unfair' tuition surcharge

Culture & Society

·         National Council on Mongolian Studies meets

·         Dutch exhibition provides new insight into Genghis Khan

·         Mongolians made first banknotes in history

·         UMC students tell their grandparent's stories - Memories of my Mongolian grandfather

·         Spending time with Mongolia's 'disappearing' people

Nature & Environment

·         One of the world's rarest grizzlies lives in the Gobi Desert — and it needs help

·         European Union and Red Cross bring relief to Mongolian herders


·         Mongolia NOC organises Olympic-related activities in the Umnugovi and Uvurkhangai districts

·         North Korean players at Mongolian National League

·         Gemnet to sponsor CS:GO champions "The MongolZ"

Art & Entertainment

·         Mongolian artists to participate in documenta 14 exhibition in Germany

·         A 15-Year-Old Girl Becomes The First "Eagle Huntress" Of Her Tribe


·         Experience Mongolian Lunar New Year with Mongolian Secret History Camp

·         Mongolian authorities issue "Selfie Warnings" after hiker found dead

·         Mongolian Transport or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ride

·         Photographer Catherine Hyland Turns China and Mongolia Into Otherworldly Landscapes

·         Must see places of Arkhangai aimag




Int'l Market

Government of Mongolia Offers to Exchange New Notes for Guaranteed DBM Notes

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, February 19, 2017 (Ministry of Finance) The Government of Mongolia (the "Government") is pleased to announce an exchange offer for the US$580,000,000 5.750% Senior Notes due 2017 issued by Development Bank of Mongolia LLC, which mature on March 21, 2017 (the "DBM Notes").  The exchange offer, which we expect to launch on February 20, 2017, provides existing holders of the DBM Notes the opportunity to exchange such notes for new sovereign bonds directly issued by the Government. We are confident that there will be strong participation in the exchange offer on the back of positive developments for Mongolia and against an improving outlook for commodities prices.

In addition, the Government continues to make progress with discussions involving the IMF and expects an official announcement soon with respect to an IMF-supported economic and financial aid program. We intend to engage the holders of Mongolian government and government-guaranteed debt with a view to improving medium-term financial stability.

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975 trading -0.8% mid-Monday at HK$0.248

MMC Plans to Seek Hearings about Cayman Scheme & HK Scheme

February 20 (AAStocks) MONGOL MINING (00975.HK) announced that it has filed applications with the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands (in respect of the Cayman Scheme) and with the High Court of Hong Kong (in respect of the Hong Kong Scheme) seeking orders and hearings granting permission for the company to convene meetings of noteholders for the purpose of considering, and if thought fit, approving the Cayman Scheme and the Hong Kong Scheme.

The company has been informed that the convening hearing in respect of the Cayman Scheme will be heard before the Cayman Court at 9:30 a.m. (Cayman Islands time) on 13 March 2017 and that the Convening Hearing in respect of the Hong Kong Scheme will be heard before the Hong Kong Court at 10:00 a.m. (Hong Kong time) on 14 March 2017.

Link to article

Link to MMC release

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AKM trading +3.45% mid-Monday at A$0.03

Northern Railways and Ulaanbaatar Railways JSC sign Cooperation Agreement

·         Ulaanbaartar Railways JSC ("UBTZ") is a Mongolian and Russian Government Joint Venture which manages all railway operations in Mongolia and owns the Trans Mongolian Railway.

·         UBTZ and Northern Railways have signed an MOU to cooperate and negotiate on:

o    Access to the UBTZ rail network from Erdenet;

o    Technical specifications of rolling stock required on the UBTZ Rail Network;

o    Management of transport operations along the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway and integration into Trans Mongolian Rail traffic;

o    Maintenance of the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway post commissioning; and

o    Cooperation on the rehabilitation of the Erdenet to Salkhit spur line that connects onto the Trans Mongolian Railway.

February 20 -- Mongolian metallurgical coal explorer and infrastructure company, Aspire Mining Limited (ASX: AKM, the Company or Aspire), has, through its rail subsidiary, Northern Railways LLC ("Northern Railways"), signed a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with Ulaanbaatar Railways JSC ("UBTZ") to cooperate on a number of matters to progress the commercialisation of the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway.

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KCC closed +3.33% Friday at C$0.465, +2,225% in 1 year

Will Kincora Copper be the next 10 bagger copper explorer?

Kincora Copper has a commanding position in one of the world's most promising emerging copper areas

February 15 (Proactive Investors) With a new vibrancy towards the resource sector obvious at the VRIC and Indaba conferences so far this year and copper firmly in a bull market it appears the worst of the previous 5-year down cycle is behind us. 

There are even signs of improving investor sentiment towards exploration with those who have lived through previously cycles remembering that the exploration sector provides highest outperformance in a new cycle.

Indeed, when you look at some of the new copper exploration plays that were busy during the downturn setting the foundation for the cycle to turn you can see why investors are looking for the next up and comer, potential 10 bagger plus.

SolGol, just 20 holes into drilling its greenfield Cascabel copper-gold porphyry project in Ecuador, has returned over 20 times to shareholders in the last year. It now has a £600 mln market cap, having raised US$54 mln in September last year with approaches from industry players such as Newcrest and BHP.

Cordoba Minerals' share price has increased over 14 times since Robert Friedland's High Powered Exploration's (HPX) strategic investment in the post discovery San Matias project, and this is despite HPX now owning 65% at the asset level.

It is with this background in mind that we recently spoke to CEO of Kincora Copper (CVE:KCC), Sam Spring, for an update to see where he is at with Kincora's exploration plans, given the drill season is coming around again soon after the harsh Mongolian winter.

Kincora too has been busy of late setting the foundations for an upswing in the cycle. Only in the last quarter its has announced an exceptional Tier 1 copper porphyry team, consolidated the dominant land position in the emerging gold-rich Southern Gobi copper belt and undertaken an opportunistic capital raising with a leading natural resource institution.

The region boasts Rio Tinto's (LON:RIO) largest global expansion project, the Oyu Tolgoi mine, as a neighbour and is one of the most prospective remaining frontiers for copper exploration.

With its transaction with IBEX, a Friedland-controlled private entity, Kincora overtakes Rio Tinto controlled entities being the largest accumulator of new exploration ground in this belt during the downturn. .

"We're pretty sure we'll be drilling two targets this field season," says Spring, "and these are two analogous to the nearby large scale copper mines in the belt, Oyu Tolgoi and Tsagaan Suvarga."

Kincora's wholly owned targets are Bayan Tal and East Tsagaan Suvarga, the latter otherwise known as East TS.

Bayan Tal is a large scale target with confirmed Oyu Tolgoi ("OT") style stratigraphy, the first target in the belt since OT with such attributes, and known mineralization on the margin of the interpreted system, including 18 metres at 0.66% copper equivalent (IBEX hole 6) and 0.75% copper equivalent (trench).

East TS is a brownfield open pit target being only 13km from the existing Tsagaan Suvarga open pit which has over 300 million tonnes atgreater than 0.5% copper, situated within the same intrusive system.

The geologists have just recommenced initial field works, looking to expand the target zone at East TS. Following this Spring is hoping to present work programs and "use of funds" proposals to the board in March.

That board is now slightly beefier and punchier than it was at the start of the year, following the appointment of two new directors: Luke Leslie as chairman, and John Holliday as non-executive technical director. The changes reflect Kincora's two-pronged strategy of exploration and further expansion.

Leslie's a specialist financier and deal maker, while Holliday is expert at the discovery and evaluation of concealed copper porphyries, particularly large ones like Cadia or Wafi-Golpu,  the kind Kincora is targeting and of the kind that made Oyu Tolgoi famous.

The company has just completed on a C$500,000 private placing it announced at the end of last year, so the funds are at least now in place for Spring to take his plans to the board.

 "Exploration creates a huge amount of wealth if you get it right," says Spring. "We have been busy in a relatively short period creating the foundations for a big 2017, systematically advancing our new district scale multi-target, multi-stage pipeline up the value curve with two targets now to the point of drilling. These two targets have a lot of similar attributes to the two large-scale mines in our immediate belt.  Encouragement for our geological models this field season would likely being a major value add milestone, particularly in light of the share price performance of some other recent copper exploration plays..

However, unlike other recent copper success stories, like SolGold and Cordoba, Kincora has consolidated the dominant position in the belt, and now looking to make a discovery, or two given the scale of our portfolio. These other groups have made the discovery and are now looking at the next one and consolidating their respective districts."  

."The objective for this year is to find some copper, and support our analogies," says Spring. "It's time to get on with that."

While the copper price is already up over 30% in recent months many are expecting further gains as the global market swings to a deficit for the first time since 2011, driven by sustained demand from China, the unknown Trump factor, new copper supply from the last cycle having peaked, continued supply disruption at the world's two biggest copper mines and potentially flowon effects to other existing operations.

M&A through the downturn of the cycle and overweight exploration budgets reflect the industry's bullish view of incentive and future pricing for copper.

It appears those few copper juniors with new real exploration plays are well positioned as investors refocus on the favourable structural outlook for copper.

With this in mind, Kincora is one to keep on the watch list as it looks to drill two targets that are analogies to the existing two large-scale mines in the world-class Southern Gobi copper belt.  

Exploration success could support it quickly moving into the leagues of SolGold or Cordoba. 

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Kincora Copper boss keen to get drills turning in Mongolia within six months

February 17 (Proactive Investors) Sam Spring, president and chief executive of explorer Kincora Copper Ltd (CVE:KCC) tells Proactive they've resumed field activities as it looks to expand the near surface target area at its Mongolian prospects.

The company has completed analysis of two high priority drill targets: Bayan Tal, an Oyu Tolgoi-style (OT) target; and East Tsagaan Suvarga (East TS), a brownfield Tsagaan Suvarga-style (TS) target.

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EUM last traded A$0.075 on Friday, +212.5% in one year

Eumeralla: Interim Financial Report, December 2016

February 17, Eumeralla Resources Ltd. (ASX:EUM) --

Link to report

Notice of General Meeting, 22 March, 2017

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -0.02%, ALL -0.38%, Turnover 311M Shares, 10.1B T-Bill Primary, 2.9B Secondary

February 17 (MSE) --

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MoF moves up February 28 government securities trading on MSE to February 23

February 17 (MSE) Due to previously scheduled Government securities trading date /28 February 2017/ coinciding with Mongolian "Lunar Moon" national holiday, the Mongolian Ministry of Finance officially rescheduled  the Government securities trading day to 23 February 2017.

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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: Friday, February 17 Close










































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,478 Sell ₮2,488), TDB (Buy ₮2,480 Sell ₮2,488), Golomt (Buy ₮2,477 Sell ₮2,487), XacBank (Buy ₮2,478 Sell ₮2,486), State Bank (Buy ₮2,472 Sell ₮2,486)

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

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BoM issues 195 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +29.9% to ₮428.4 billion

February 17 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 195 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

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BoM: NPLs +0.4% in January, +18% YoY to 1.05 Trillion, 8.6% of Total Loans

Key indicators of Mongolian banking system consolidated balance sheet, Jan 2017

February 17 (Bank of Mongolia) --



Number of banks

Bank reservers

Central bank bills

Foreign assets

Government securities

Other securities


Of which

Total Assets

In domestic currency

In foreign currency

Non-performing loans

2008 12












2009 12












2010 12












2011 12












2012 12












2013 12












2014 12












2015 12












2016 01












2016 12












2017 01















Current Accounts

Of which:


Of which:

Foreign liabilities

Government deposits

Total Liabilities


Of which:

In domestic currency

In foreign currency

In domestic currency

In foreign currency

Profit/loss of current year

2008 12












2009 12












2010 12












2011 12












2012 12












2013 12












2014 12












2015 12












2016 01












2016 12












2017 01












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BoM: Money Supply Falls 1.6% in January to 11.9 Trillion, Up 20.6% from 2016                                                                                            

BoM Monthly Statistical Bulletin, January 2017

February 19 (Bank of Mongolia) --

in millions of togrogs


Currency issued in circulation

Money (M1)

Other deposits

Money (M2)


Monthly change, %


Monthly change, %


Monthly change, %


Monthly change, %

2000 12









2001 12









2002 12









2003 12









2004 12









2005 12









2006 12









2007 12









2008 12









2009 12









2010 12









2011 12









2012 12









2013 12









2014 12









2015 12









2016 01









2016 12









2017 01









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Mongolia dodges bond default, agrees to bailout with IMF

Mineral-rich country accepts outside supervision of reforms

By KHALIUN BAYARTSOGT, Contributing writer

ULAANBAATAR, February 20 (Nikkei Asian Review) -- The International Monetary Fund and the Mongolian government announced Saturday an agreement on a three-year bailout program that averts a default on a semi-sovereign bond maturing March 21.

The government has agreed to fiscal and structural reforms in exchange for the new IMF-brokered funding. Under its Extended Fund Facility programs, which usually last three years, the IMF monitors progress on a quarterly basis before the next loan tranche is given.

The foundering $580 million bond with a 5.75% coupon was issued in 2012 by Development Bank of Mongolia, a state-run project-finance bank. The country's worsening balance of payments and depleted foreign exchange reserves meant the government could not repay or roll over the bond without fresh foreign credit.

As soon as the IMF agreement was announced on Saturday, the government said the old bond could be exchanged for a new government bond, but it did not go into details.

In addition to the $440 million from the IMF itself, the program will see some $3 billion in loans to the government or public projects from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank as well as from Japan, South Korea and other countries.

China will contribute to the program by extending the duration of a 15 billion-yuan ($2.2 billion) currency swap with the Bank of Mongolia, the central bank. This brings the likely total value of the bailout package to over $5 billion.

The agreement requires the government to cut its budget deficit and implement various reforms. Welfare spending will become more "targeted," the IMF said.

Finance Minister Choijilsuren Battogtokh said cash allowances for children will be limited to low-income households, and the pensionable retirement age raised. Progressive personal income tax will be introduced, and interest earned on savings taxed. Taxes on fuel, imported cars, alcohol and tobacco will all be increased.

The government has promised legislation to reform the roles of the central bank and the development bank. Kashi Mathai (Mogi: Koshy Mathai), who heads the IMF's Mongolia program, said in the future "the central bank will solely focus on monetary policy and price stability, and will stop functioning as a fiscal branch."

The previous administration used the central bank as an extra-budgetary channel to subsidize mortgage loans extended by commercial banks, worsening the budget deficit. Politicians used the development bank to fund their own businesses. Parliament is already drafting legislation to shield both banks from direct political interference.

Mongolia achieved 17% economic growth in 2011 on the back of rising commodity prices, but fell into crisis when those prices went down. Public external debt mushroomed from about $2.5 billion, or 31% of gross domestic product, at the end of 2010 to $8.5 billion in 2016 -- about 85% of estimated GDP. The fiscal deficit is expected to have ballooned to 15% of GDP last year, and foreign exchange reserves are barely sufficient to cover minimum commitments.

Batsuuri Haltar, an economist at Shinjeech (Analyst) magazine, told the Nikkei Asian Review that the bailout will help if it leads to fairer taxation of the rich and moderated public spending. "However, Mongolians need to check whether there are any requirements hidden from the public," he said.

Haltar noted the IMF has consistently recommended privatization of state enterprises such as power plants. This has attracted foreign investment interest but without the wider national benefit being entirely clear.

Link to article

Link to IMF statement


IMF to Loan Mongolia $440 Million as Part of $5.5 Billion Bailout PackageBloomberg, February 19

Mongolia agrees $5.5 billion economic bailout plan with IMF, othersReuters, February 19

Mongolia reaches $5.5bn IMF deal as debt repayments loomFinancial Times, February 19

Mongolia agrees $5.5 billion economic bailout plan with IMF, othersAP, February 19

IMF $440 Million Loan, $5 Billion Package, Bails Mongolia Out Of Commodity Slump TroublesForbes, February 19

Link to list of other articles

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Video: Mongolia Reaches Agreement With IMF    

February 20 (Bloomberg TV) Mongolia reached an initial agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a three-year program that includes a $440 million loan package as part of a $5.5 billion bailout to help the north Asian country with looming debt repayments. IMF Mission Chief to Mongolia Koshy Mathai explains the agreement on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Asia."

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Politics & Legal

Mogi: agree.

Guest Post: Label of Erdenet 'Nationalization' Misleading

By Marissa Smith

Many Fear Mongolian Government Decision Heralds Another Privatization, Securing of the Status Quo Possible

February 18 (Mongolia Focus) Last week during an extra session after the final day of its fall session, Mongolia's Parliament voted that the state acquire the share of the Erdenet Mining Corporation held by the Mongolian Copper Corporation.  The share, 49% of the Erdenet Mining Corporation, had been sold by Russian State Corporation Rostec at the end of June. Investigations by the Parliament's Standing Committee on Law as well as international journalists and scholars (The DiplomatMongolia FocusJargal DeFacto) allege that the Mongolian Copper Corporation is a shell company, its purchase of the 49% financed almost exclusively through the Trade and Development Bank, Mongolia's oldest and one of its largest, most internationally-held private banks, as well as the state Bank of Mongolia, partly with Chinggis Bond revenues earmarked for development projects.

Bloomberg and the Associated Press have run headlines over stories about the action prominently featuring the label "nationalization". However, while the Mongolian People's Party, which took power after the sale and whose members are leading the charge to revoke it, may be often taken by foreign observers to be devotedly following the example of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party that governed Mongolia during over six decades of state socialism, their members have long demonstrated their willingness to participate in privatization. A major reaction by the Mongolian public to the latest moves has been that the 49% has been taken away from the Mongolian Copper Corporation by the government in order that it be given to other businessmen and corporate actors, ones with ties to politicians (of both major parties) currently in power. That is, the government's taking of the 49% from the Mongolian Copper Corporation is widely viewed as the opening move in another example of the kind of corruption they accused the June sale of (see Mendee J.'s comments), made while the sale was being contested in Parliament earlier on, and summary of Lhkagva E.'s interpretation and comments by Julian Dierkes about Mongolians' suspicion of collusion across party lines. On Tuesday the Mongolian People's Party said at a press conference that it is discussing forming an openly traded company though it is unclear as to whether this would include the 51% owned by the Mongolian state as well as the 49% ordered to be taken from the Mongolian Copper Corporation.

As President Elbegdorj noted in his address to Parliament (in which he urged the assembly to not approve the measure to take the 49% from Mongolian Copper Corporation, warning that such a move would deter foreign investment), the Erdenet Mining Corporation involves and directly benefits tens of thousands of Mongolians. As President Elbegdorj suggested, the loss of Mongolia's "Milk Cow," arguably the nation's commodity most easily converted to cash, if the 49% were mismanaged would likely result in a political backlash. Erdenet has been the nation's largest taxpayer and produces at least around half its copper concentrates. Elbegdorj noted plans for further development of Erdenet, including a long-proposed copper refining plant. The last serious such proposals at a national level have been to build the refinery at Sainshand, on the Trans-Mongolian Railroad, located between Erdenet and Oyu Tolgoi, a project now dormant.

The grades of copper sulphide ores in Erdenet's forty-year-old open pit have sharply decreased as the mine has aged, though its oxide ores could be exploited with new processing plants.

Mongolia and Russia

The political situation is precarious. Mongolians are watching on-going Romanian anti-corruption protests much as they did in 1989 (media outlet Mongolia Live posted posted a statement of solidarity with Romanian protestors on February 1, saying that "corruption is extremely high in both countries").

The matter of the Erdenet 49% remains mired in an ongoing crisis, in which the failure of public benefits to be realized by other operations, here the Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi mines in particular, has forced Erdenet, as the lone major functioning enterprise, into the spotlight, as also happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Currently, Mongolians are waiting for response from Rostec and the Russian government. As Foreign Minister Munkh-Orgil visited Russia on a working visit February 13-14, Mongolian journalists and social media users were quick to note that the Erdenet matter was not discussed in press conferences, and the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to inquiries that a meeting between Munkh-Orgil and Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov had not been requested.  The text of a letter reportedly sent to Prime Minister J. Erdenebat from Chemezov and circulated among members of Parliament was printed by major news outlets and, stating that reversing the sale would damage Mongolia and Russia's reputations in the eyes of investors, and suggested that the matter be taken to an arbitration court in Singapore. If true, this text could be understood as a move to keep Russian-Mongolian relations in a holding pattern, as public discussions between Lavrov and Munkh-Orgil did, continuing to gesture towards the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Eurasian Economic Union, and One Belt One Road's China-Russia-Mongolia Economic Corridor as wellsprings of cooperative economic development. These have so far been unsuccessfully tapped, however, and Lavrov restated firm Russian opposition to a Chinese-backed dam project that has gotten the furthest of any of the OBOR projects in Mongolia. Munkh-Orgil will visit China February 19 to 20.

What can be expected to happen now with the 49%? And with Mongolia's international and regional relationships? As emphasized on this blog and elsewhere Rostec demonstrated substantial desire to "cash in" the 49%. A possible scenario is that the Erdenet 49% be reprivatized to entities that will maintain the status quo (as also before Rostec acquired the 49% in 2007) in which Erdenet maintains Mongolian ties to Russian enterprises and involves social groups beyond the Ulaanbaatar-based elite (members of which have included many of the most adamant proponents of Erdenet's privatization over the course of the last three decades), groups that are in comparison marginalized in Mongolian politics and business. The activity of these networks has long been demonstrated to have benefits for the nation as a whole.

There is some speculation that the sale and its illegalization are moves to force Russia's hand to lend more aid to a Mongolia in deep crisis. (As a piece from Bloomberg's editorial board stated three days ago, "the [Mongolian] government, along with a state-backed development bank, is on the hook for more than $1 billion in maturing bonds over the next year, starting with a $580 million payment due in March." Currently, Erdenet constitutes a, if not the, major nexus of Russian-Mongolian relations in the form of important trading relationships between firms; for instance on February 2nd director of Russian manufacturer Uralmashzavod's mining division named Erdenet as a major purchaser in an interview with leading Russian business journal Kommersant. In 2007, Erdenet joined other privatized Soviet enterprises when the 49% was taken into Russian state corporation Rostec, and thus was rearticulated with other such enterprises as well as the Russian state. It can easily be imagined that Russians as well as Mongolians are worried about the loss of tax revenue, business activity, and employment (not to mention the risks to the city built around the Erdenet mine, one of Mongolia's only two second cities and a major infrastructure hub) were the Erdenet Mining Corporation to collapse. Furthermore, Cold War-era Mongolia expert Robert Rupen (in How Mongolia is Really Ruled: A Political History of the Mongolian People's Republic, 1900-1978, Stanford:Hoover Institution Press: 1979, pg. 92) remarked as Erdenet was under construction that the gigantic mining operation (at the time, Asia's largest open pit mine), city, and the road and railways connecting it to Ulaanbaatar and Irkutsk constitute a "defensive shield" for the section of the Trans-Siberian Railway that had to be built close to the Mongolian border in order to pass south of Lake Baikal.

About Marissa Smith

Marissa Smith obtained her PhD from Princeton University's department of anthropology in 2015, after defending a dissertation about Erdenet and its position in local, national, regional, and international contexts. She currently teaches at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. 

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Experts call on the government to protect Erdenes TT shareholders' interests

February 16 (UB Post) Prominent experts in mining, finance, and law have called on the government to protect the interests of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC (Erdenes TT) shareholders, specifically, the Mongolian citizens who collectively own a 20 percent stake in the company.

On February 13, economist and CEO of Ard Financial Group Ch.Gankhuyag, mining expert L.Naranbaatar, and attorney B.Bayar demanded that the government take measures to protect the rights and interests of the state-owned mining company's shareholders.

Erdenes TT was established in 2010 by decree of Parliament and Cabinet. The company's main focus is to manage and operate the nation's strategically important coal mines, such as the Tavan Tolgoi mine.

When the company was established, each Mongolian citizen was given 1,072 shares of the company. Even though each citizen owns a stake in the company, analysts claim that the Mongolian people have not enjoyed the rights that a shareholder is normally allowed. These include receiving quarterly updates, voting on key decisions, and freely dictating the use of their shares. The financial reports and balance sheets of Erdenes TT have not been publicly released on a consistent basis. Ch.Gankhuyag, L.Naranbaatar, and B.Bayar have noted that it is not clear how many Mongolian citizens have sold their shares and how many still own them. The three critics, all prominent in their fields, have called upon the government to take action to erase past shortcomings and to ensure that certain rights are afforded to all of the company's shareholders.

"For every 100 million MNT in income, Erdenes TT requires 136 million MNT in expenditure. Since 2011, a total of 24.2 million tons of high quality coking coal has been extracted and exported. Yet, the accumulated net loss of the company stands at 453 billion MNT. Outstanding debt has reached 822 billion MNT. If Erdenes TT carries on along the path they are on right now, in eight years time, it will likely be bankrupt," said L.Naranbaatar.

L.Naranbaatar stressed that shareholders need to put pressure on the administration of Erdenes TT to implement proper management. He said that the Mongolian people have been shareholders in name only, and that poor management has led to a loss of revenue and greater accumulated debt. Referencing research he has conducted, he pointed out that the administration of Erdenes TT has used loans from Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) to compensate for the company's losses.

"Of the accumulated debt, 71 percent of it is owed to DBM; money which was financed by the Chinggis Bond. Yet, the debt that gets talked about most, the outstanding debt owed to Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (Chalco), accounts for only one-eighth of the company's overall debt," said L.Naranbaatar.

Ch.Gankhuyag highlighted how the burden of the company's debt has been put on the shoulders of the Mongolian people as minority shareholders and taxpayers. He stressed how this practice and mismanagement need to be stopped.

Companies and citizens who own shares of Erdenes TT have been urged by the experts to register at to join the movement to protect their interests and rights.

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P.Tsagaan confronts DP related rumors, why he withdrew from chairmanship race

By B. Dulguun

February 17 (UB Post) Former Chief of Staff of the President and Member of the Democratic Party (DP) P.Tsagaan explains why he forfeited the chairmanship election and commented on rumors related to the DP in the following interview.

Some people speculate that new DP chairman S.Erdene will not be able to make significant changes. What do you think of this? How much do you expect from S.Erdene?

I believe I made all the initiatives, rules, principles and calculation method for electing party members. For the first time in history, DP members elected their chairman democratically using the rules I developed. It's my duty to support our new leader, who was elected based on that rule.

As for expectations for S.Erdene, it's not like an angel has come down to help us out. We can't borrow a foreigner either, so we have to do whatever we can with everything we have. Expecting everything to be resolved just because a new chairman has been elected is like waiting for god to answer all your prayers. Obviously, the person that will lead a reform is important. However, no one is capable of doing and knowing everything. We must form a good team, develop correct policies, and strive towards achieving it to meet society's expectations.

If we learn from the past, calculate potential trials and develop a good policy based on it, S.Erdene can reform DP and lead the second wave of democracy, which can bring historic changes that can end changes of transition. I'm sure S.Erdene realizes his new responsibilities. I've known him for over 30 years. He has experienced both the good and bad, and knows how important party unity is.

I'd like to remind our members to be "master in one's own home" and encourage them to prioritize party unity. I'm sure the five candidates felt this while campaigning across 21 provinces. However, this doesn't mean to turn a blind eye on conspiracy or avoid criticism. There needs to be healthy criticism and competition.

You chose to resign from your position as the Chief of Staff of the President's Office to run for the DP chairman position. Why did you forfeit the election?

I'm actually really satisfied right now. The DP showed that we can resolve chairmanship related issues through votes, instead of having less than 10 people negotiate it behind closed doors. For this, I gave up my work and traveled 7,000 km across 16 provinces, met 1,300 party members, and listened to their opinions, complaints and hopes.

Before I started speaking, they didn't have a reason to elect a party member as chairman. I told them that we should change the rotten system where a group of people conspire and determine the chairman. Then, I traveled throughout the country to confide in members, who also agreed.

Those who were conspiring broke up when other members started to support this idea. Ultimately, we adopted a new rule to have the party chairman elected, which helped members realize their value to the party. This is the beginning of a very important work. A lot of what I initiated for the party has been added to the party rule, but there is more I'd like to add.

How will you do that?

The future of Mongolia depends on how the DP is reformed. I will always support DP's reforms. I will criticize wrongdoings, conspiracy and things hindering our reform. If I'm told to do something, I will do it. I have enough experience and knowledge for it.

The general-secretary and deputy chairman's positions are currently vacant. There have been rumors that you gave up the position of chairman because of an agreement that you'd become the DP's general-secretary. Can you comment on this?

I can handle any job, but I don't go around requesting for certain positions. For the first time in my life, I said I want to become the chairman during the recent election. In the past, people used to offer and assign me to specific positions. It doesn't matter if I'm working for the party or government – all I try to do is repay people's trust with effort.

I'm ready to accept any job entrusted to me. There's not a single job I can't manage. I can say this with confidence. For sure, teamwork is very important for executing tasks. We can't make progress if people continue to oppose each other's ideas and work. But I don't think we'll have a hard time communicating since we all united under the same principle. Even if we fight, we're able to resolve it. Moreover, we're no longer boys – we're men now.

Party rule revision is the most important matter for the next DP meeting (the meeting took place on Sunday). Have you seen the rules submitted by other members? What did you think of them?

Honestly, I'm not fully satisfied with the proposed amendments to the party rule. I noticed a lot of things that could be changed, fixed, improved and even changed completely in our current rule. We should approve some necessary changes in the upcoming election and the new chairman should assign a team to develop rules for the long run. It could be viewed that the meeting is the start of a reform, not the end.

We need to make the DP a party that has internal democracy, maintains stable operation, constantly reforms, initiates development policies, trains new personnel, keeps finances and operations transparent, and reports finances. We will not be able to get long-term rules if the proposals developed by the working group don't meet standards.

A DP member remarked that only unemployed or people who do the bidding of others do politics. What do you think of this statement?

It's true. It's very easy to change this – give back the right to become a candidate to ordinary people. All we have to do is endorse the law we had when the first democratic election was held in 1990. The state needs intelligent people. Right now, the ones running for office are people who have nothing better to do, follow someone's orders, directors who want to promote their company, or a guy with a luxury bag. They can't become real state officials. Politicians are increasing and state officials are becoming fewer. There's not many people who put state interests above their own. Political parties must train good state officials through policy.

The current rule allows only party members to become legislators. Why can't great scientists, teachers, doctors and generals become a Member of Parliament? This is partly why businesses aren't developing. People who became politicians after overcoming a small hurdle are doing business with state work, causing burden to businesses and getting involved in crimes by stealing.

Political parties are organizations that aren't bound to any law. Their finances aren't transparent and aren't audited. Bribers just lie and say they are donating money to the party, not to a specific person. Is it right to put people behind bars if they give money to someone, but looked over if they donate it to a party? Businesses with income of several million MNT are pressured to have their financial reports audited or face penalty. Yet financial reports of parties circulating several billions of MNT are excused from audit inspections.

Previous parliaments failed to pass the bill on political parties. Do political parties have the intention to pass this bill?

I can't blame them. It's better for them to not have their actions restricted by a law.

In general, Parliament doesn't have to function the way it is. MPs don't need to meet all the time. Now, we should establish representative offices for Parliament in every soum, get more members and not hold big meetings so frequently. In other words, Parliament members only need to meet once or twice a year for really important decision-making.

Every legislation we need has been passed in the past 30 years so MPs aren't required to approve more. There's no work for Parliament. MPs decide to repeal laws, which have already been discussed for four years by former parliaments, within four minutes and draft it from scratch. You can see that MPs are messing with the government, not allowing them to work. In addition, they initiate all sorts of things and approve laws that are far from reality.

Because of your close relationship with President Ts.Elbegdorj, a rumor sparked about you preparing a place for him to return to when his presidency ends. Is this true?

That kind of rumor started when I announced to run for the chairmanship of the DP. These rumors probably died out when I forfeited from the chairmanship election. I guess it's not surprising that such rumors broke out. A person my age wouldn't act that way because of someone's order. The president was very surprised when I told him that I was going to resign from my position as his Chief of Staff because I needed to reform the DP. But he respected my decision.

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AmCham Daily Newswire for February 17, 2017


Prime Minister receives the Governor of Irkutsk Region

Summary: Prime Minister of Mongolia J. Erdenebat met with the Governor of Russia's Irkutsk Region, Sergei Levchenko, and his accompanying delegation. The PM noted that in order to further develop the relationship between Mongolia and Russia, cooperation in the border regions is critical. The PM stated, "The government is paying special attention to development in the agricultural sector, and establishing joint ventures to process wood and develop greenhouse farming would be beneficial for both sides." Governor Levchenko supported the PM's proposal and noted that 25 business representatives were part of his delegation, and were there for the opening of the Irkutsk Region Investment Development Agency office in Ulaanbaatar. The Governor said he will work to increase the number of Mongolian students studying in the region,  and to establish stronger ties with Mongolian businesses.

Keywords: bilateral relations, PM, Russia | The Century News /page 2/

Legal Standing Committee reports on its engagements

Summary: The Legal Standing Committee reported on the legislation it discussed during Parliament's fall session. The Legal Standing Committee discussed and approved 13 parliamentary resolutions, 8 bills, and 72 amendments. The Head of the Legal Standing Committee, Sh. Radnaased, stated that a working group made up of representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Government Agency for Policy Coordination on State Property are working to investigate Erdenet Mining Corporation, and that the standing committee is paying close attention to the group's  findings.

Keywords: Legal Standing Committee, Erdenet Mining Corporation | The National Post /page 2/


IFC and Ministry of Construction and Urban Development to cooperate

Summary: The Ministry of Construction and Urban Development and the World Bank's IFC have signed an MOU on increasing the energy and economic efficiency of construction in Mongolia and developing greener construction by researching and updating building codes and the legal environment for the industry. The Vice Minister of the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development, Sh. Lkhamsuren, and Simon Andrew, the IFC's Country Manager for Mongolia, South Korea, and China, signed the agreement. Andrew stated, "We will cooperate with key decision makers to develop energy efficient buildings in Mongolia."

Keywords: IFC, construction | The National Post /page 6/


International organizations have started sending aid to Mongolia's herders

Summary: Deputy Prime Minister U. Khurelsukh chaired a meeting of representatives from international aid organizations and the government to discuss how to help Mongolia's herders overcome this year's harsh winter conditions. The Government of Mongolia requested aid from several international aid organizations operating in Mongolia, and 13 international organizations will be granting a total of 3.8 million USD (9 billion MNT) in financial assistance grants, equipment, and relief goods. The Deputy Prime Minister spoke about the harsh conditions herders face and the government's efforts to help herders. U. Khurelshukh thanked the UNFPA, United States Agency for International Development, World Vision, Save the Children, and the other organizations who contributed to the relief effort. UN Resident Coordinator Beate Trankmann expressed her gratitude for the information provided by the government and said she hopes the aid reaches the people who need it most.

Keywords: international aid organizations, United Nations, herders |

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Jargal Defacto: Free up prices and dismantle monopolies

February 19 (UB Post) Setting prices using laws and rules, instead of letting the market regulate itself, is only beneficial to decision makers. It hurts consumers and causes even more serious consequences for the market in the long term. In a free market economy, prices for goods and services are set at the most optimal levels depending on market demand and supply, which allows for an abundance of products.

An underlying reason for the collapse of socialism was the government's setting of prices. Although all goods were cheap, it used to be difficult to find them. You had to either have a connection who could help you purchase goods, or spend hours in a long queue where you could only rely on luck to get the product you wanted. Children born before the 1990s spent countless hours of their adolescence standing in long lines to buy meat, milk, water, and bread, instead of using that time to learn and do their homework.

Despite the transition to democracy and a free market economy almost 20 years ago, the Mongolian government is still regulating and restricting prices for staple food products, fuel, and electricity. This control on prices is the second biggest reason – behind corruption – for our economic decline.


Every time the government is newly assembled, the party in power immediately comes up with ideas for subsidies or softer regulations in the name of caring for and supporting the people, and they start controlling, "stabilizing", and freezing prices. Our previous government loudly rolled out programs on mortgages and regulated prices for construction materials and fuel. In the end, the government ended up in massive debt and the central bank ran out of foreign currency reserves.

Apartment prices immediately doubled as soon as low interest mortgage loans became available. Meeting high demand from the market, construction companies kept building more expensive apartments intended for high-income families, rather than affordable apartments for low-income households. Currently, Ulaanbaatar has 40,000 empty apartments that have long locked up approximately 8 trillion MNT. Commercial banks today have no choice but to seize the apartments used as collateral for bad loans and try to sell them as foreclosed properties.

Fuel importers received 400 billion MNT in loans from the central bank. They seem to have forgotten to reduce their prices when fuel prices were at their lowest globally. However, as soon as there was a slight increase in prices in the international market, these companies started increasing their prices right away. Every government organizes a farming campaign, which sets a trend of the government providing soft loans during the harvest season and forcing flour producers to buy domestic wheat at higher prices.

The government has been controlling the prices of 25 items that are included in the consumer price index basket. The government regulates prices for bus tickets, public and private university tuition, Altan Taria 1 flour, and Atar bread, as well as household electricity, heating, and water rates. The government has tried every year to control prices for meat as well as coal for electric power.

These government programs have been disrupting market equilibrium and giving businesspeople inaccurate information. They lead to false expectations, bigger state budgets, larger government agencies, and more inefficient expenditure. The government officials who initiate these programs get wealthier, and the businesses connected to the policies are growing and becoming more profitable.


Market demand and supply can be favorable for consumers in the long term only when prices are freed up and monopolies do not exist. Natural monopolies can exist as long as they do not bar other competitors from entering the market.

Natural monopolies are acknowledged by all because they account for the total supply of particular goods and services at the lowest social cost. The Law on Fair Competition states that a company's position in the market is considered dominant when it accounts for over one-third of the manufacturing, sales, and purchase of a certain kind of product in the market.

Under such circumstances, government organizations need to oversee whether monopolies and dominant companies are increasing their prices, taking advantage of their position in the market. This type of government organization in Mongolia is the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection (AFCCP). However, this organization was stripped off its rights to monitor the pricing activities of dominant businesses and natural monopolies on June 19, 2015, when Parliament made amendments to consumer protection laws. These changes prevented the operations of the AFCCP from being involved in the activities of any organization with a special permit, regulatory rights, or tariff subsidies. This  means that when natural monopolies increase prices for electricity, heating, water, and railway transportation today, there is no one who provides oversight on the behalf of consumers. There is an inevitable need to distinguish between what a natural monopoly is and where more competition can occur. Also, government involvement needs to be reduced at all levels, and privatization has to take place.

Natural monopolies exist in the following activities of different industries: the transmission of power, telecommunications networks,  the distribution and transmission of fresh water and wastewater, railroads, flight routes and airports, and radio and television broadcasting networks. Every operator in the telecommunications industry has built their own countrywide network, which has led to an abnormal system and has dramatically decreased room for mobile phone service charges to be reduced. If these monopolies are properly and efficiently managed, we could reduce living costs and improve the quality of life for most Mongolians.

If prices are set by the market and monopolies are properly managed, the private sector will receive accurate market information and be able to enhance their competitiveness. If these changes are coupled with a reduction in government corruption, Mongolian businesses could enter international markets. Mongolia will achieve flourishing development only when our goods and services are delivered globally. Many countries, such as New Zealand, Finland, and Estonia, have had such experiences. Our authorities are always traveling to these countries, but where are the benefits of these visits?

What is stopping us from just carrying out these changes and reviving our economy?

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Technology & Investment to Mongolia 2017 Conference, April 20-21, Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar

What is "Technology & Investment to Mongolia"

"Technology & Investment to Mongolia 2017" is an annual international technology conference and exhibition. The exhibition's unique mission is to introduce the cutting edge technology to Mongolian priority 10 sectors such as Mongolian infrastructure, construction industry, mining industry, city and rural planning, environmental technology, renewable energy, agriculture, industry sector, energy sector and as well as financial sector.  One of the main issue for Mongolian development is financing so this exhibition would like to focus on the investment.

Government Hour

"Technology and Investment to Mongolia 2017" is offering its participants a direct access to the Government of Mongolia through its Government Hour event. The Organizing Committee will be accepting questions and comments from various participants. All questions will be directed to the respective government body in advance of the event hence giving ample time for appropriate officials to prepare to address the issue in a constructive way during the Government Hour.


- Rich in coal, copper, ore and gold minerals

- 270-300 sunny days annually and 10% of total land area can be classified for utility scale applications, means we can potentially supply wind and solar energy

- 56 million livestock by end of 2015 

- About 59% of the total population is under age 30 and this young growing population has placed strains on Mongolia`s economy

- New Government announced, will be consistent, mining friendly and protectively for foreign investors

- Rio Tinto has announced a new phase of development and to invest $5.3 billion underground expansion in Oyu Tolgoi

Organizer: BM Mongolian Partners

Co-organizer: DeltaBlue Ltd., Switzerland

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Huntsman and Tengri launch limited edition 'Noble' yak fabrics

February 17 (Innovation in Textiles) Savile Row's Huntsman and London-based noble yarn specialist Tengrihave collaborated to create a bespoke new cloth woven with the noble fibres of the Mongolian Khangai yak. This limited-edition cloth is woven from Tengri's rare Khangai Noble Yarns – Mongolian yak fibres that are said to be as soft as cashmere, warmer than merino wool, breathable and hypoallergenic.

Launching in Tengri's signature palettes, the exclusive fabrics will include unique natural colours only found in rare yaks of the Khangai Mountains. Unlike species found in China, Tibet and Nepal, the Khangai yaks produce rare natural tones, and the most precious of the new fabrics will introduce a rare silver cloth. Additional colours will include natural tan and an exclusive brightened navy blue, processed by environmentally friendly dyes.

Each bespoke coat, made from 2.5 metres of Tengri cloth, will take the hand-combing of 50 Khangai yaks, and with only 100g of fibres available from each yak just once a year, the new cloth is extremely limited in availability. Only 60 metres will be produced for Huntsman bespoke appointments, with each garment taking between 60-80 hours to craft by establishment's cutters and tailors.

Unique fabric

"At Huntsman, we have offered the ultimate in luxury tailoring for 167 years. We are dedicated to sourcing limited-edition luxury cloths, the very best available in the world at any time. To be working with Tengri and to discover this very unique fabric is truly special," said Pierre Lagrange, owner of Huntsman.

"The fibres of the Khangai yak, indigenous to this very specific region of Mongolia, transcend yak yarns and cloths currently available in the luxury market. With Tengri we are able to offer some very precious rare colours, and key for Huntsman, finding exquisite fabrics that stand up to the stresses and tests of time. A Huntsman garment should be able to endure for generations."


An ancient animal dating back 10,000 years, Khangai yak have hair with unique textures and colourings found only in species native to this region. The indigenous species not only graze on mineral-rich grasslands but exist in a distinctive ecosystem with micro-fluctuations in temperatures, causing the animal to produce fibres softer than those of any other yaks in Mongolia.

The journey of this exquisite fabric starts in the remote Khangai Mountains of western Mongolia, where its fibres are hand combed from the underbelly of indigenous yak just once a year by nomadic herders. The fibres are spun and woven in heritage mills of Yorkshire, where textile-manufacturing dates back to 1777, before arriving at Huntsman's Savile Row premises in London. This bastion of tailoring has suited a long list of inspired patrons, from Clark Gable to Winston Churchill, Katharine Hepburn to Alexander McQueen.

Luxury and sustainability

With award-winning environmental credentials, Tengri champions the sustainable manufacturing of prestige noble yak fibres and remains the first and only technology specialist to refine noble Mongolian yarns in the UK. "We are honoured to be working with one of the finest and long-standing tailors on Savile Row, an establishment which also happens to be the most innovative," commented Nancy Johnston, Founder of Tengri.

"It's innovation that drives Tengri to push the boundaries of sustainable fashion and luxury goods, and our collaboration with Huntsman further realizes that luxury and sustainability do not have to be mutually exclusive. Huntsman patrons can feel confident in the knowledge that their bespoke garment made from Tengri fabrics takes a positive step to support the protection of wildlife, landscape, and a nomadic way of life that is currently threatened. The exclusive new cloth also celebrates our shared dedication to rich heritage, integrity, craftsmanship and style."

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Wool products handmade by herder women popular in France

Ulaanbaatar, February 17 (MONTSAME) Herder women of the "Friendly women" NGO in Zavkhan aimag started selling more than 30 types of handmade wool products in France in October 2016.

The women wash and comb camel and sheep wool to make a variety of clothing and accessories, such as gloves, shirt, bag and slippers. Their products are quite popular on the French market and in the last two years since the NGO was established in 2015, they have exported products worth MNT 6 million in total to France with the support from the "Takhi" project.

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Shipping rate request from Canada to Mongolia by Air

(FreightNet) The enquirer requires a shipping rate for clothes + toys to be despatched by Air and arrive no later than 09/03/2017. The consignment is departing from Canada and arriving at Mongolia. Full details of this shipping rate request can be found below.

Only Premium members with an office in Canada or Mongolia can respond to this rate request.

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IFC to start development of 'Green Buildings'

Ulaanbaatar, February 17 (MONTSAME) The Ministry of Construction and Urban Development and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank has established a memorandum of cooperation to improve economic efficiency of the construction sector and its energy supply. 

Deputy Minister of Construction and Urban development Sh.Lhamsuren and IFC Country Manager for Mongolia, Korea and China Simon Andrews signed the document. The sides will cooperate in the improvement of construction quality and safety issues, saving cost and compliance of new buildings with the requirement of 'Green building'. 'Green building' will be an energy efficient structure without heat loss through an introducing advanced technology and with green environment.

'Our organization has experience in the 'Green building' construction. And based on our experience, we will start the development of energy efficient building in Mongolia' said Mr Simon Andrews. 'Green building' is significant to lower operational cost of apartments and reduce greenhouse gas, noted the deputy minister.

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Parents planning to hold third protest against air pollution

February 17 ( Parents against air pollution NGO planning to hold the third protest if officials do not respond to their application before Feb 25th. 

At the first demonstration that was held 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. 

Later on Jan 28th, 2017, about 10,00 demonstrators gathered at Sukhbaatar square to protest against air pollution and collected signatures for the application.

Following the Parents against air pollution NGO submitted demand again to President of Mongolia and City Mayor, promising to demonstrate again if the Government of Mongolia and City Governor`s Office won't respond to their application. 

However Parents against air pollution NGO have not received respond from the Government of Mongolia. 

To the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj:

1.    Be active and innovative on the improvements of legal framework committed to air pollution. 

2.    Attend the session of State Great Khural and discuss the issue immediately. 

3.    Reduce the number of vehicles used for official use of the Office of President by 40 percent prior to presidential election.

To the City Mayor, Su.Batbold: 

1.    Lead the campaign to install air purifier in all state-owned kindergartens, schools, and hospitals of Ulaanbaatar city. 

2.    Install 15 new air quality stations in Ulaanbaatar city. 

3.    Reduce the number of vehicles used for official use of the Capital City Governor's Office, the district governors and other state authorities and service entities by 15 percent within this year.  

4.    Regularly report the implementing works on reducing air pollution to the public every two weeks via the media.

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Ulaanbaatar to host JCI Asia Pacific Conference

February 17 ( Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia to host the JCI Regional Congress for Asia and Pacific 2017 on June 8-11. 

Every year, JCI Area B or Asia Pacific Region Members unite in their regions for JCI Asia Pacific Conference (ASPAC) to exchange ideas, learn how to maximize their local impact and collaborate with other National Organizations in Asia Pacific Area.

The ASPAC give members a chance to take advantage of JCI's international network while enhancing their National Organizations. At this conference, JCI gives its members the opportunity to address Asia pacific region and international issues and show their commitment to becoming socially responsible leaders.

These regional forum enables members to focus on solutions for their region and how they can grow, improve, share and create positive change across communities. 

Details will be delivered soon.

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Mongolian FM to visit China this Sunday

February 17 (China Radio) It's been announced that Mongolian Foreign Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil is to pay an official visit to China from this Sunday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the Mongolian minister will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on cementing mutual trust, deepening cooperation and expanding people-to-people exchanges.

Geng Shuang said Munkh-Orgil would also meet Chinese leaders during his three-day visit.

Relations between the two sides became strained following a visit by the Dalai Lama in November.

Beijing has urged the Mongolian side to learn lessons after the latter promised not to allow the Dalai Lama to visit the landlocked country again.

The Dalai Lama is a political exile with ambitions to split Tibet from Chinese territory.

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Mongolia Foreign Minister: We Prioritize Ties with Russia and China

ULAANBAATAR, February 17 (EFE) – Mongolia can now be considered "locked in" between two great powers as Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsendiyn Munkh-Orgil acknowledged in an interview with EFE, adding that ties with Russia and China are still priorities, though relations with the US and EU will also continue.

Munkh-Orgil, a lawyer trained in Moscow and at Harvard, has been leading Mongolian diplomacy since July 2016 from his office at the ministry's headquarters, one of the many Soviet-styled buildings still preserved in the capital.

Mongolia, whose economy has mainly been supported over the past decade by mining, reached 17 percent growth annually. However, like other countries dependent on raw materials, the industry has been in crisis due to low international prices.

"It is an open secret that we are facing a very difficult economic and fiscal situation" admitted the minister, who did not only blame the falling commodity prices for the situation but also "a lack of consistent strategic economic management and lack of structural reforms that should have been done quite some time ago."

Munkh-Orgil has been in office since the victory in last year's elections of the ex-communist and now social-democrat Mongolian People's Party, which had been in the opposition for the past four years.

"This government inherited serious budget deficits, ballooning foreign debts" and an unsustainable economy, he said, adding that the government of Prime Minister Jargaltulgyn Erdenebat is trying to steer the course with spending cuts and negotiation of international financial assistance.

"I am optimistic that in the next few days, Mongolia and international financial institutions (including the International Monetary Fund) will be able to come up with a positive announcement" of these negotiations, he said.

Munkh-Orgil proudly recalled that "it is not that Mongolia was subjugated or was dependent on the superpowers, there was quite an extended period of time in history that we were the dominant party," a reference to the time of Genghis Khan, the founder of the second largest empire in history.

Although Mongolia has, since the fall of its communist regime in 1990, celebrated its independence after living 50 years in the Soviet Union's orbit, Munkh-Orgil recognized that "there is a clear-cut priority in our foreign policy to develop friendly relations with China and Russia."

It does not have to be exclusive, emphasized the minister, adding that the ties with the United States, the European Union, Japan and Turkey are also very important for Mongolia in a globalized world.

"Absolutely excellent relations with the European Union. This month, in fact, the European Parliament is expected to ratify the partnership agreement with Mongolia," said the minister.

With the US, "We have a clear commitment from the new administration (of President Donald Trump) that it will continue with its projects and cooperation with Mongolia," which, he recalled, are not only in the political and economic fields but also in the military, exemplified by the group of Mongolian soldiers operating in Afghanistan.

Chinese-Mongolian relations became strained in November, when the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia – where Tibetan Buddhism is the dominant religion – sparking protests and pressures from Beijing.

"On the other hand, notwithstanding the religious nature of his trip, it put significant strains on Chinese-Mongolian relations," said the minister, confirming that as a result of the diplomatic conflict, Beijing suspended some bilateral contacts and negotiations.

The Minister and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, eventually agreed through a telephone call that "for the time that this government stays in power, the Dalai Lama will not be visiting Mongolia," which reopens the door for trade and economic negotiations between the two countries, an issue which Munkh-Orgil plans to discuss next week in Beijing.

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EU Parliament Approves Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation with Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, February 17 (MONTSAME) The European Parliament gave consent to the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation /PCA/ signed between Mongolia and the European Union in 2013 and adopted a resolution during its plenary session held on 15 February 2017. 

Following the resolution, H.E. Mr. M.Enkhbold, the Chairman of the State Great Hural /Parliament/ of Mongolia expressed his gratitude through a letter to H.E. Mr. Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament. Upon the adoption of this resolution, the Council of the European Union is expected to issue an official decision for entry into force of the PCA.

Entry into force of the PCA between Mongolia and EU will constitute a legal basis of enhancing the Mongolia-EU relations in different fields, such as trade and economic cooperation, development cooperation, agriculture and local development, energy, climate change, academic research, innovation, education and culture.

The European Parliament once adopted a resolution, supporting democratic transition process in Mongolia, back in 1994. Today, the resolution adopted in line with the ratification of the PCA shall become the key document to define the further substances and the overall development of the bilateral relations. A clause stating the need to establish the Joint Commission on the implementation of the PCA, and Inter-parliamentary Group on cooperation between the Parliament of Mongolia and the European Parliament has been included in the resolution, which should be amended to the agreement. Concerning the fact that the bilateral relations with Mongolia is covered by the EU Delegation in Beijing, the European Parliament urged the Council and the High Representative of the Union to upgrade the EU technical office in Ulaanbaatar into a fully-fledged EU Delegation in the near future.

The resolution included in itself the topics of democracy, rule of law, good governance, human rights, sustainable development, economy, trade and enhancing of cooperation on regional and global issues. Moreover, it gives evaluation to the democratic process in Mongolia, praises the efforts of Mongolia in the international arena and pleaded the EU member states to actively support Mongolia's initiatives and collaborate effectively in enhancing trade, investment and economic cooperation, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Factsheet on the EU-Mongolia Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation

The European Union is intent on supporting Mongolia in its continued political and economic reform path, as a valuable partner for the EU in Asia.

February 17 (European External Action Service) The Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and Mongolia is testimony to the growing importance of EU-Mongolia relations, which are based on the shared values of democracy, rule of law and human rights and respect for international commitments in this regard. It will provide the basis for a broader and more effective engagement by the EU and its Member States with Mongolia moving forward.

The Framework Agreement consists of 65 Articles with a Preamble and nine Titles, which cover:

1.      the nature and scope of the Agreement;

2.      bilateral, regional and international cooperation;

3.      cooperation on sustainable development;

4.      cooperation on trade and investment issues;

5.      cooperation in the area of justice, freedom and security;

6.      cooperation in other sectors;

7.      means of cooperation;

8.      the institutional framework;

9.      final provisions

The Agreement provides a general framework for promoting bilateral, regional and international cooperation and includes the EU's standard political clauses on human rights, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the International Criminal Court (ICC), small arms and light weapons (SALWs) and counter-terrorism.

The Agreement will strengthen political, economic and sectoral cooperation across a wide range of policy fields, including trade and investment, sustainable development, justice, freedom and security. It encompasses areas such as cooperation on principles, norms and standards, raw materials, migration, organised crime and corruption, industrial policy and small and medium-sized enterprises cooperation, tourism, energy, education and culture, environment, climate change and natural resources, agriculture, health, civil society, and the modernisation of the state and public administration.

The negotiations for the EU-Mongolia Framework Agreement on started in 2010 and were concluded in 2013. On 15 February 2017, the European Parliament gave its consent to conclude the. This vote by the European Parliament was an important step in concluding the Agreement and paves the way for its entry into force.

Once it enters into force, The Agreement will supersede the current legal framework of the 1993 Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the European Economic Community and Mongolia.

Find the full text of the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation

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Mogi: crore means ten million

Rs 50 million Mongolia aid: Setback to India foreign policy?

The figures show that grants to be given by New Delhi even to tiny Indian Ocean-rim countries like Maldives far outstrip that for Mongolia.

New Delhi, February 20 (Deccan Chronicle): In what could be a setback for its foreign policy, India seems to have again failed to capitalise on China's northern neighbour Mongolia's desire to break free of its economic dependence on Beijing. In the Union Budget for the coming fiscal 2017-18 presented earlier this month, New Delhi has allocated only a meagre Rs 5 crore as foreign aid for Mongolia under the allocation of the Ministry of External Affairs for the strategically-located central Asian nation that had embraced India so warmly during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit there about two years ago. 

Contrast this with the foreign aid announced in the 2017-18 Budget for Nepal Rs 375 crore), Afghanistan and Mauritius (both Rs 350 crore each), Seychelles (Rs 300 crore), Maldives (Rs 245 crore) and Myanmar (Rs 225 crore). The figures show that grants to be given by New Delhi even to tiny Indian Ocean-rim countries like Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles far outstrip that for Mongolia. But contesting this perception, government sources however point out that India had already announced a Line of Credit of $1 billion (about Rs 7,000 crore to be handled by the finance ministry) to Mongolia during PM Modi's visit. But the fact remains that a Line of Credit is not a grant (foreign aid).

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Canada Fund financed 447 projects in 240 soums in last 20 years

Ulaanbaatar, February 17 (MONTSAME) Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) has implemented 447 projects and programs in 240 soums of 21 aimags of Mongolia with funding of CAD 6.6 million during the 20 years of its operation in Mongolia. Ambassador of Canada to Mongolia Ed Jager highlighted this achievement of the Canada Fund during the anniversary celebration ceremony held on February 15.  

The CFLI is carrying out 11 projects in Ulaanbaatar, Dornod, Dundgobi, Uvurkhangai and Khentii aimags, with grant assistance of CAD 183 thousand between 2016 and 2017. The projects aimed at poverty and air pollution reduction and capacity building for women and girls include a number of projects such as setting up a library for patients at the National Cancer Center, establishing a sewing workshop for women living around the Ulaanchuluut landfill site of Ulaanbaatar city, and donating heat conserving devices to Ger district families of Songhino-Khairkhan district.

During the ceremony, the Canadian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar and the CFLI gave advice to civil society and NGOs on how to be involved in the program and on project proposal writing.

The CFLI provides grants annually to projects targeted to the improvement of the quality of people's life, as well as cultural, social and economic development. "-Selection process of projects submitted for the program will be held from June to September this year. Applications of projects with short-term or a term of four months to one year are invited" said S.Munkhzul, an official from the Canadian Embassy.

The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives program was launched in Mongolia in 1997. As of now, the program has involved over 260 thousand children, 66 thousand women, 26 thousand families and 3300 youths of Mongolia.

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Prime Minister and Governor of Irkutsk meet to develop economic cooperation

February 17 (UB Post) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat received the Governor of Russia's Irkutsk Region, Sergei Levchenko, and his accompanying delegation on Thursday at the State House to talk about cooperation between Mongolia and Irkutsk.

The PM underlined that economic cooperation and developing collaboration in areas along the Mongolian and Russian border are of great importance to expanding relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Russia.

He noted that the Government of Mongolia is concentrating on developing agriculture, and that Mongolia is interested in collaborating with Irkutsk to establish joint ventures in hotbed farming and wood processing.

Governor Levchenko supported the PM's proposals for collaboration and noted that 25 business owners from Irkutsk were traveling with the governor to pursue business relationships with Mongolian entrepreneurs.

The Governor emphasized that an Irkutsk Region Investment Development Agency is opening a branch in Ulaanbaatar, and that the quota for Mongolian students invited to study roads and transportation in Irkutsk has been increased.

The Prime Minister pointed out that Mongolians like consuming Russian goods and that the Irkutsk investment agency office in Ulaanbaatar will be important for increasing Russian investment in Mongolia.

He emphasized that Irkutsk's goods and products will be sold duty free during an upcoming expo for Mongolian and Russian entrepreneurs.

The Premier said that he hopes Governor Levchenko will help support Irkutsk's entrepreneurs interested in investing in Mongolia and that Russian businesses will be collaborating with Mongolian entrepreneurs as soon as possible.

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PM receives Governor of Irkutsk, RussiaMontsame, February 17

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Speaker discusses energy megaproject cooperation with Irkutsk governor

February 19 (UB Post) Speaker of Parliament M. Enkhbold met with Governor of Russia's Irkutsk Region Sergei Levchenko on Friday, at the State House, to discuss cooperation between Mongolia and Irkutsk and possibilities for cooperation on energy projects.

During their meeting, the Speaker pointed out that during meetings held last December with Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin and Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia Valentina Matviyenko, detailed discussions took place on strengthening collaboration at the all the levels in regions along the Mongolian and Russian border.

Speaker M.Enkhbold noted that when he was Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, relations between Ulaanbaatar and Irkutsk increased in a wide range of sectors and a number of art and culture exchanges took place between the two cities.

The Speaker said that he hopes Governor Levchenko will help reinstate friendly relations between the sister cities and take bilateral relations and cooperation to a new level.

Governor Levchenko said that a trade fair promoting Mongolia's goods and products will take place in Irkutsk in April, and that he hopes the fair will help increase trade turnover between Mongolia and Irkutsk.

The Governor recalled that engineers of the Soviet Union, including many from Irkutsk, made great contributions to building up the Mongolian energy sector. He noted that the Irkutsk Region has valuable experience in the energy sector and has engineers with knowledge of producing  cost efficient energy, and that Irkutsk is ready to collaborate in the future. Irkutsk's engineers helped build the Bratsk, Irkutsk, and Ust-Ilimsk hydroelectric power stations, which are fully functioning now.

Governor Levchenko pointed out that tourism also offers numerous opportunities for collaboration. He noted that Mongolian and Russian officials agreed to open a tourist gateway between Lake Khuvsgul and Baikal Lake, but that the project has stalled because of road conditions between the two points.

The Governor highlighted that the Government of the Russian Federation is concentrating on improving ecological and environmental protection efforts at Baikal Lake by closing factories in the area. He added that the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission should focus on improving roads between the lakes.

The Irkutsk delegation said that they will ask the Russian government to host the 2017 meeting of the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission in Irkutsk, and asked Speaker M.Enkhbold to support the request.

Governor Levchenko presented Speaker M.Enkhbold with a list of megaprojects which will be carried out in Irkutsk over the next few years.

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Selenge Province to celebrate Russian Maslenitsa butter on Sunday

February 17 (UB Post) Selenge Province is preparing to celebrate the Russian Maslenitsa butter on February 19 to bid farewell to winter chills and welcome spring.

The Provincial Mayor's Office, Consulate General of Russia in Erdenet, and Erdenet Mining Corporation are planning activities for the celebration. So far, they've decided to set up over 20 tents that will sell various food and products at A.Amar Square in Selenge Province.

Russian national food and snacks prepared by Moskva Petushki Restaurant, School No.19, Enerel Center, and Akutran Restaurant will be sold at the event.

Uurkhaichin Cultural Palace, Khangarid Sports Palace, and the Children and Youth Theater will showcase performances to underscore the close and friendly ties of the Mongolian and Russian people. Friendly competitions will also be organized to entertain festival goers, according to the organizers.

Maslenitsa, also known as Butter or Crepe Week, has been widely celebrated since the pagan times in Russia and other soviet countries with street festivals, skating, and merrymaking.

Although the main idea of the celebration is to greet Spring and prepare for next harvest, another meaning was added to the celebration with the adoption of Christianity in Russia. In the eyes of the church, Maslenitsa is not just a week of merrymaking, but a step-by-step procedure to prepare oneself for a long and exhausting fasting, which, if observed properly, may be a real challenge. Fasting begins right after Maslenitsa and lasts for seven weeks before the Easter.

The celebration usually continues for a whole week with special tradition on each day. For example, the first day of the celebration week is called the Greeting Day and it's customary for people to make a straw doll – Maslyanitsa on this day.

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Health & Education

Public health services and accessibility to be improved

February 17 (UB Post) Directors and managers of research centers for zoonotic diseases are holding a conference on ways to improve public health services and their accessibility on February 16 and 17.

Attendees are also assessing related projects carried out in 2016 and discussing projects and measures for 2017.

Opening the two-day conference, State Secretary of the Ministry of Health D.Ochirbat noted the significance of zoonotic disease studies and its role in the health sector. He said that the ministry will pay more attention to creating a healthier and safer working environment for zoonotic disease researchers and specialists as they are exposed to greater health risks.

He promised to expand cooperation with research centers of zoonotic diseases and resolve issues related to staff training and transportation.

Aside from directors and managers from 15 research centers for zoonotic diseases, more than 40 researchers, doctors and specialists from Dornod, Sukhbaatar, Bulgan, Dornogovi and Govisumber provinces attended the conference.

The conference will also provide a chance to exchange views on the new National Program on Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, approved by Parliament on January 11, and the third phase of Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (APSED) to be implemented through 2020. APSED aims to build a sustainable and collaborative approach toward managing zoonotic diseases and develop the capacity for diagnosing and responding to new emerging disease threats.

Guest lecturers will present lectures on financial management, the use of glass account, guides for organizing various courses and training workshops, communication skills, organizational culture, the secret to success, leadership and more.

The organization that contributed the most in controlling zoonotic diseases will be awarded at the event.

A joint exhibition has been launched to share experiences and introduce new practices in the field under the conference.

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NUM students continues to protest 'unfair' tuition surcharge

February 17 (UB Post) Student representatives from the National University of Mongolia (NUM) issued a complaint about tuition surcharge during a press conference on Monday.

Head of the NUM Student Union B.Khosbayar stated, "NUM students didn't hold a demonstration to demand money from the state or have tuition fees reduced. We're protesting against the tuition surcharge we have to pay every year even though we don't know what it's used for and to protect our rights. School tuition is the most pressing issue for students and their parents. Yet, we have to pay an additional surcharge of over 100,000 MNT [on top of credit fee] every semester."

B.Khosbayar added that students' demands that NUM authorities report on the spending of surcharge, which has been charged since 2011, have been ignored. Students demanded to see a detailed report on the spending instead of a broad explanation that it is used to "improve learning environment, build new library, provide information technology and student-aimed services, and issuing wages for janitors and guards."

According to B.Khosbayar, NUM hasn't made substantial changes for students as stated by the school board directors.

NUM reportedly charged more than 3.28 million MNT for the academic year 2014-2015 from each student on average, 3.47 million MNT in 2015-2016, and 3.18 million MNT in 2016-2017.

"We want the university to discuss all forms of spending related to the decoration, maintenance and equipment procurement with students in the future," a student said at the press conference.

They also demanded to see a detailed report on the spending of their tuition surcharge and promised to continue protesting until their demands are met.

A working group was assigned by the NUM board on January 31 to determine if the surcharge is legal, following a notice from the National Audit Office. The working group is headed by Deputy Chairman of the NUM Board Council D.Erdenechimeg and includes Head of the NUM Student Union B.Khosbayar.

NUM reported that the university accumulated 3.3 billion MNT in 2016 through surcharge fees, and that with an additional 1.4 billion MNT, the university financed the construction of a new library, provided information technology and student-aimed services, and paid for other operational costs.

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Culture & Society

National Council on Mongolian Studies meets

Ulaanbaatar, February 17 (MONTSAME) The National Council on Mongolian Studies under the Prime Minister held a meeting on February 16 to present 2016 annual report and 2017 plans, which include many activities directed at supporting Mongolian studies centers, building research capacity, preparing younger generations of scholars and promoting Mongolian studies in Mongolia and the world.

Pursuing a principle of transparency, the national council accepts proposals on potential projects and academic conferences for the whole year round.

This year, the national council is planning to organize international and national events, such as summer training for young scholars of Mongolian studies, actions to encourage Mongolian studies based on prestigious universities around the world, the scientific conference themed "Present and Future of the Studies of Mongolian History" the international conference under the auspices of the President of Mongolia themed "Archival documents connected with history of Mongolia".

Moreover, complete collections of scientific works of Mongolia's renowned scholars Sh.Bira and Ts.Damdinsuren will be published in the margin of the "Mongolian Cultural Heritages" project.

During the meeting, PM J.Erdenebat emphasized that strengthening the Mongolian studies on a global level is of vital importance.

The national council gifted copies of each series of the Mongolian Cultural Heritages publications to the Prime Minister. 

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Dutch exhibition provides new insight into Genghis Khan

February 18 (Xinhua) More than 200 items linked with Genghis Khan and his descendants went on exhibition at the Dutch National Military Museum Friday to display the history of the Mongol Empire that ruled most of Eurasia throughout the 13th and 14th centuries and the multiple facets of its mysterious founder.

Illustrating his life from his birth in 1162 into the Borjigid clan of the Mongol tribe as a bizarre baby "born with a clot of blood the size of a knucklebone clutched in his tiny fist" [which symbolizes courage and power in Mongol legends], to his ascension to Great Khan in 1206 and his campaigns which expanded the Mongol Empire from China to the Caspian Sea, the exhibition shows that during his rule Genghis exhibited impressive vision and strategic brilliance.

With horse gears, armours, weapons, seals, imperial decrees, utensils, clothes and jewelry on display, the exhibition also stages that one of the best-known figures in world history had ground-breaking developments in military equipment, strategies and tactics, endorsed tolerant religious and social policies, established a legal code and sparked a new era of exchange and interconnection between East Asia and Europe.

"Genghis Khan and his successors have profoundly influenced the history of the world with their military inventions and strategies, but also through their culture and the cultural and religious exchange that took place via the Silk Route," Hedwig Saam, director of the Dutch National Military Museum, told the press.

The museum, built at a former air base in the central region of the Low Lands, combines the collections of the former Military Aviation Museum in Soesterberg and Army Museum in Delft.

"We want to give the European audience an insight into Genghis Khan in a way that hasn't been done before," Tim Pethick, designer of the exhibition, told Xinhua.

"The concept of conquest is one aspect of the story of Genghis, but we want to talk about Khans' encouragement to literacy, and his keenness to build a multi-faiths society. We want to show that when approaching a town for siege, the Mongols actually were much happier to take that town peacefully rather than aggressively, because they wanted to trade with those people and learn from them," he said.

Yong Ding, researcher of China's Inner Mongolia Museum where all the items on display come from, was glad the exhibition immerses visitors in a gripping way. "Inner Mongolia is a mysterious place with a long history, and via this exhibition we hope to bring a better understanding about the culture and history of Inner Mongolia to the Dutch audience," he told Xinhua.

For him, the eye-catching golden saddle decorated with Mongol style pattern is one of top pieces in this exhibition. "It was found in a tomb whose owner is believed to be a Mongol noble living in the Yuan dynasty established by Genghis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan. Its sophisticated relief sculptures tell us the cultural and artistic attainments of the Mongols."

A bronze seal used by Genghis Khan's third daughter is also among Ding's most beloved archaeological discoveries. "It is one of the rare preserved artifacts that relates directly to Genghis Khan's family. The Chinese, Mongol and Uyghur characters carved on it tell us that when Genghis Khan went out to conquer the world he trusted his daughter to rule at home. Actually his daughter had the power to reign over not just the Mongols but also the vast region till the Yellow River," he explained.

Since the 1990s, the Inner Mongolia Museum has organized many exhibitions focused on Genghis Khan in cooperation with colleagues in America, Europe and Asia, according to Ding. 

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Mongolians made first banknotes in history

February 17 (MONTSAME) A collection of 52 coins with ancient Mongolian kings' seals and Yuan dynasty's first paper money have been bought by the Ministry of Education and Science of Mongolia. Introducing to you the rare paper moneys that were printed by the order of Khubilai Khaan over 800 years ago.

Historians have agreed upon the fact that Mongolians have created the first banknotes in the history of the world. The claimed notes are extremely rare and is valued USD 200 thousand on the world auction, according to international analysts and researchers. As a proof of the Mongol Empire's advanced development of commerce in the 13th century, the monument is now attracting crowd at the National Museum of Mongolia. It is mentioned in the 'Mongolian Secret History' that Mongolians were using a money called 'Sukhe' during the period under Chinggis Khaan's rule.

Between 1224 and 1225, Chinggis Khaan commanded to mint silver coins with 'Unen ulziit yeronkhii urlug janjin'/'Prosperous grand marshal' on one-side and 'Tuuliin deed Chinggis khaan'/'Chinggis Khaan the bringer of victory to god' on the other side of the coin in Arabic alphabets and utilized for trade in Afghanistan.

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UMC students tell their grandparent's stories - Memories of my Mongolian grandfather

February 17 (Crookston Times) A note from UMC Composition instructor Kristina Gray: Into the sixth week of the spring semester, my UMC composition students have been introduced to their third paper that is more academic in nature. They are learning about APA formatting rules. This seems far removed from their first assignment of describing their grandparents. Today's story shows true love holds out and it lasts. Seki's grandmother in Mongolia had been promised to someone else by her family in an arranged marriage. Fortunately, things changed from hardship and struggle to Seki having grandparents who survived and now we have Seki in Crookston representing this great and vast country while going to classes at UMC. Please buy tickets for a Mongolian dinner starting at 6:00 p.m. on March 27th. Adult tickets are $20 and youth $15, this will include the meal and a program about Mongolia, the "Land of Eternal Blue Sky."

By Sergelen 'Seki' Batsaikhan

My grandfather is a herdsman and he has been living in the countryside all his life. He is eighty-five years old this year and he raised twelve kids. He likes living there and he always says that without a struggle, a person cannot succeed. It means in order to reach a goal, a person must go through some struggles and misery. Whenever I encounter a difficulty, I remember his words. So, it is not that scary to go through a struggle and make some changes.

In Mongolia, herdsmen have a nomadic lifestyle. Moving to different places, they don't live in one place for a long time. My grandfather lived in many places, so he knows the whole country very well. When I was in elementary school, I used to spend every summer with him. It was the happiest time of my childhood. It was the first time I felt what it was like to live in rural area. Since I grew up in the city, it was new to me. Even though many years have passed, I still remember how relaxing the summer vacation was. I remember green trees, blue sky, and the nomadic lifestyle.

My grandfather is not that talkative, but his words are very concise and contain deep meanings. Also, he is funny and fond of mocking people. He grew up in a big family, the youngest of three children. When he was a child, there wasn't TV, radio, or cell phone. He spent most of his lifetime in the pasture, so he didn't need any electronic devices. He used to do everything by hand. Now he is amazed at how life is becoming much easier and much comfortable. He says that life was so different when he was young. People used to dress in a different way, eat different foods, and even talk in a different way. He just cannot believe how the world is changing so fast. He doesn't like living in a big city. He says that it is too distracting and too noisy to live there. He just likes to live where he grew up.

Sometimes he tells me about his life history and his memories. His life was very adventurous, especially his love history. About his childhood, he grew up during one of the toughest time in our country. At the time, Mongolian government was dependent upon the Manchu Empire for a long time. Because of that, Mongolians were poor and the government lost its power over citizens. Except for some rich families, most of the citizens were poor and unemployed.

My grandfather lived peacefully in the countryside until he was eighteen years old. Then, he went to a war between the Mongolian Empire and the Manchu Empire. He was a soldier for three years in the Manchu Empire. He says that it was very difficult being a soldier during the war because he couldn't escape no matter how much he missed his home and his girlfriend. When he returned home, he married when he was 21.

My grandfather met my grandma when he was 18 years old. He says that it was love at first sight. He still remembers how pretty she looked at the time. Before he went to the war, he promised that he would never forget her and would marry her when he came back. Until the war ended, he couldn't meet her for three years. During that long separation, they were writing letters to each other and hoping to meet some day.

However, my grandma was going to have an arranged marriage. Actually, she had been engaged before they were even born. Besides, my grandma's parents were supporting the arranged marriage and forcing my grandma to marry the man. Yet my grandma had fallen in love with my grandfather instead. So she decided to choose her true love. Somehow my grandma managed to run away from the arranged wedding the day before the ceremony. She had nowhere to go since she couldn't go back to her parents. So, she went to the capital of Mongolia [Ulan Bator] and lived there for two years while she waited for my grandpa. She didn't even tell anyone where she was, she just disappeared.

After the war finished, my grandparents finally found each other and lived happily ever after. They fought for their love, their lives, and their children. That is why I like their love story. I learned so many precious lessons from him. He has lived in his own way. No matter what happened around him, he could do what he wanted. He was a good husband, a good soldier, and a good father. Now, he is being a good grandfather.

Even though I couldn't spend much time with him, it seems like every minute I spent with him was precious. My grandfather's life story is unique. He went after what he wanted and that is what I want in my life.

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Spending time with Mongolia's 'disappearing' people

Pham Mai Huong quit a regular job to travel full time, and is rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime experience in northernmost Mongolia with the Tsaatan tribe. Hong Van reports.

February 19 (VietNamNet Bridge) Pham Mai Huong is not a globe-trotter, but for someone who began travelling abroad just a year ago, she has gone places.

The 26-year-old native of the northern province of Hoa Binh studied literature in Da Nang, and began working at her alma-mater on completing her graduation.

Three years later, she decided to quit.

"Giving up a stable job to pursue my passion for travelling was a big turning point in my life," said Huong.

"I was fed up with a life in which I would do the same thing every day, in which people had to please everyone. And I asked myself why do I have to live a life where I am not myself, live a life to please other people."

Meanwhile, Huong's family was proud of her work in a State-run university and felt that her travelling to 'strange' destinations was "risky and not appreciating life and herself".

"Seeing that my family and acquaintances were proud of my work at university restrained my wanderlust."

"But the passion grew bigger each day and I felt like just mentioning travel would make me burst into tears."

Finally, Huong wrote a resignation letter to her director, and then another — one that required more determination — to her parents.

"Only by travelling can I live to the fullest. I have decided that I will live a life that I would not have to regret when I look back," she wrote.

Once this decision was taken, she did not just up and away. She'd already travelled throughout Viet Nam, and had particular interests in other places and cultures.

 "My first foreign country was Nepal. Some people said my choice was quite 'strange'. They said it has more sense to choose some Southeast Asian countries with cultures similar to Viet Nam so as to gain some travelling experience first, and then go to farther lands.

"For me, the distance or difficulties along the way are not an excuse to postpone the journey."

In Nepal, she discovered Kathmandu and she climbed up to the first base camp of Mount Everest, an impressive feat in itself.

To cover her travelling expenses, Huong works as a freelance writer, photographer and video maker. She also manages a small business online for extra income.

"In my journeys, I also work as volunteer to save money for accommodation and meals. It gives me a chance to experience local life and meet volunteers from other countries."

Last chance

It is her next trip, to Mongolia, that sets Huong even further apart from a normal traveller, and shows that her travelling goes beyond seeing new places.

 "I have long had a special interest in the indigenous cultures and lifestyles that are on the verge of disappearance. The fact that the indigenous cultures may disappear in the near future urges me to travel to these lands.

"I am afraid that if I hesitate, I may not have chance to see eye-on-eye these cultures and experience their lifestyle firsthand," said Huong.

Thus it happened that the trip to Mongolia turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience

First, she made a 12-day trip through the Gobi dessert, and another trip 10 days to meet with the Tsaatan tribe.

"In Gobi, I came to love the nomadic lifestyle of locals as well as the pristine and quiet landscape.

"My journey to be with the Tsaatan tribe, a remote and detached area in this world, will be the most memorable experience in my life.

"It was full of challenges, exhausting and above all, a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Huong.

"It was an incredibly emotional moment for me, when they said that it was the first time they were meeting someone from Viet Nam and the first time a Vietnamese visited their tribe and stayed with them like I did."

Huong chose the Tsaatan tribe in Mongolia after reading that they are on the verge of disappearance.

"I decided to meet them, experience their life and record it through photos and videos," said Huong.

There were difficulties at first in terms of information as it seemed no Vietnamese had ever visited the Tsaatan tribe and written about it. There was no writing about such a journey even by foreigners, said Huong.

Huong began the journey in August last year, travelling thousands of kilometres. Huong and Norda, a Polish woman she befriended in Mongolia, travelled nearly a thousand kilometres by bus from Ulaanbaatar to Moroon and then from there to Tsagaan Nuur.

"The 300-kilometre trip from Moroon to Tsagaan Nuur in a 10-seater car was the worst I've experienced. It was cramped with 16 people and loads of luggage, and the passengers squeezed and elbowed."

It took nearly 16 hours to cover 300 kilometres, because of the rough and muddy roads.

From Tsagaan Nuur to reach the Tsaatan tribe, Huong travelled on horse with her guide, passing through a taiga forest and three mountains covered with snow.

"I still remember it was 9:30pm, everything was getting darker. I was surrounded by the endless whiteness of snow. The pine trees with golden leaves were also covered with snow, and it gave the whole scene a haunting feeling," said Huong.

That night Huong, Norda and their guide stayed overnight in an abandoned stable near the jungle, experiencing extreme coldness.

"The freezing temperature in the taiga was scary," said Huong, who spent three nights in tents in minus 20-C degree temperatures. Every hour, she got up to keep the fire burning.

"Meeting with the tribe and seeing their teepee tents and the barks of Huskies, I had so many feelings. Bursting with happiness. Hopeful. Anxious. And eager. Everything was like a dream."

"When we walked into a tent, the owner, 46-year-old Baigali welcomed us with a warm smile and fed us with reindeer's milk and cake," said Huong.

Currently the Tsaatan tribe has 70 families, 30 of whom live in the eastern part of the taiga and the rest in the west. They live close to each other in summer and would separate in winter to guarantee that there is sufficient food for the reindeers. Each family then lives three to four mountains from each other.

In the morning, the people would lead reindeers to the mountain and return home in the afternoon. Tsaatan people live in grey tents called yurt or gers  that are covered with waterproof leather. There is a fireplace with a chimney for burning wood. There are two small beds and a small area to store food and wood.

Huong then followed Baigali's family as they took the reindeers to the snowy mountains, let them eat grass and pine nuts. She listened as they sang traditional songs of the tribe.

"That moment when I was standing on a snowy mountain, surrounded by reindeer leisurely enjoying munching on grass, I felt like my soul had become pure and was free of any burden," she said.

"I was also strongly impressed with their hospitality. They would share with me whatever they had – milk, cheese, cake, pine nuts."

By the third night, tired and weary of the extreme cold of her own tent, Huong asked to stay with a local Tsaatan family and was hosted with "great warmth".

"Before going to sleep, we sat around to enjoy pine nuts and the family sang their songs. That was one of the most beautiful memories for me," said Huong.

On the morning of the fourth day, just as Huong was getting out of the tent, she realised that the nearby tents had been dismantled. She learnt that it was time for them to move to other places to find food for reindeer.

They got on the back of their horses and waved at us, smiling. And I still carry their smiles."


Her future plans include travels to Iran, Egypt and some tribes in Africa, not to mention rediscovering the ethnic minorities in Viet Nam, especially little-known ones.

Set on a new path, Huong said: "I will never regret my choice. I understand that the road leading to a dream is never easy. The only thing that hurts is that until now my family are still unhappy with my choice. It hurts when I see their tears. That's the biggest price I've had to pay for this choice.

"I will try my best so that my family will be proud of me in a way other than they were for my previous work with the university.

"These journeys have given me the experience and opportunity to discover myself and be myself. While the destinations that I chose have been tough and challenging, I have realised my heart is bigger than I thought.

"The more I travel, the more I see, the bigger the love I have for life."

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Nature & Environment

One of the world's rarest grizzlies lives in the Gobi Desert — and it needs help

February 9 (PRI) Only a few dozen grizzly bears with bright yellow coats live in the forbidding Gobi Desert in Mongolia. In a new book, wildlife biologist Doug Chadwick writes about how these unique animals survive and what can be done to better protect them.

Chadwick first found out about the Gobi grizzly (called the mazaalai in Mongolian) almost by accident. He was tracking snow leopards in the mountains of Mongolia, near the border between Russia and Kazakhstan.

"We weren't seeing any brown bears, which are the same as grizzly bears, and I had expected we might, because we were hot on the trail of snow leopards," Chadwick explains. "My translator, who was a woman working for the Snow Leopard Trust, happened to mention, 'We also got these other grizzly bears in Mongolia.' And I said, 'Where?' And she said, 'In the Gobi Desert.'"

Chadwick thought he and his translator had misunderstood each other, but then she told him that her father, who happened to be the director of the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area, had studied the bears for 30 years. Chadwick's next question was: How many of these bears are there in Mongolia? "She said, 'About 30,'" Chadwick relates. "I said, 'Well, that's in Mongolia. How many are there [total]?' And she said, 'They're all in Mongolia and nowhere else. There are 30 Gobi grizzly bears left in the world.'"

At that point, Chadwick says, he had to see them.

The Gobi grizzly is small and lean compared to the North American grizzly bear. It has "wildly mussed up hair sticking out all over the place and ... these stubby claws that say at a glance, 'I have been walking on rocks all my life, and I have been digging through gravel to find roots, and I am a beat-up, thirsty, dusty bear on the outer edge of possibility, but I'm here.'"

Gobi grizzlies are smaller than their North American counterparts because "it's pretty hard to get big on a diet of wild rhubarb, wild onions, lizards, beetles [and] occasionally scavenging the carcass of a larger animal," Chadwick says. "Everything is few and far between, both plants and animals."

The environment in the Gobi is almost unbelievably harsh. In the warm season, temperatures can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit; winter temperatures can fall below minus 40 degrees. The bears hibernate and their annual cycle is "a lot like the bears in Montana's Glacier National Park," Chadwick says.

While only three to four dozen Gobi grizzlies currently exist, it looks as though their numbers have been increasing slightly — ever since a conservation effort began in 2005, Chadwick says. As to how many might once have existed, Chadwick says "that's a little like asking how many bison or how many grizzlies used to be in North America. Nobody knows because we blew through them so quickly. There are estimates, and that's all you can have."

Part of the conservation project involves helping the bears by feeding them — an unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable strategy for Chadwick. "A fed bear is a dead bear, because it learns to get food near humans and that's not a good strategy for staying alive," he says. 

Chadwick and the other researchers dump sacks of livestock chowder into a big bin with a trough on the bottom and put it near an oasis. "The bears don't depend on it, but there are a lot of drought years, and it's not getting any better in a warming, drying climate," Chadwick says.

So far, their efforts seem to be paying off.

"[They're] on the upswing, and some of the happiest moments of my life have been standing out there, even in a dust storm and bitter cold winds, checking the images on the automatic camera set up near the feeder," Chadwick says. "As you scroll through them, all of a sudden, there are two baby bears with their mom — so they are reproducing."

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI's Living on Earth with Steve Curwood.

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European Union and Red Cross bring relief to Mongolian herders

February 17 ( Tens of thousands of nomadic herders in Mongolia face hunger and the loss of their livelihoods, the Red Cross warned on Thursday, as temperatures plummet and heavy snow blankets much of the country for a second straight winter.

In December, the Mongolian government asked international agencies to provide aid to the most vulnerable herder households who are suffering extreme winter conditions known as a "dzud". The dzud is peculiar to the landlocked Asian nation and has become more frequent in recent years.

More than 157,000 people across 17 of 21 provinces are affected by this year's dzud, said Nordov Bolormaa, secretary-general of the Mongolian Red Cross. More than 70 percent of the country is currently covered in snow, according to the government.

The Red Cross launched an appeal on Thursday for $654,000 to help 11,300 people with cash, health services and other support. In response to the particularly harsh winter which has struck large parts of Mongolia since November, the European Commission is providing over 115 000 EUR in humanitarian funding to bring immediate relief to the most affected families. The aid will directly benefit 5000 most vulnerable individuals in some of the country's worst-hit provinces, namely Khuvsgul, Selenge, Uvs and Zavkhan.

Around 30 percent of Mongolia's 3 million population lives off animal herding, according to the World Bank, and meat is the primary source of food.

Mongolian government figures show more than 42,000 animals had died by early February. The Red Cross warns that number will soar as severe weather is expected to continue through March.

As many as 1.1 million livestock died last winter, and the dzud of 2009-2010, one of the most severe in history, saw 9.7 million livestock deaths. (Reuters)

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Mongolia NOC organises Olympic-related activities in the Umnugovi and Uvurkhangai districts

February 18 (Inside the Games) The Mongolia National Olympic Committee (MNOC) has organised Olympic-related activities in the Umnugovi and Uvurkhangai districts.

They were held in collaboration with the district councils around the country named after Olympic Games host cities.

Mongolia's "Athens" Olympic Council, headed by director S. Tuvshinjargal, staged the "South Desert Champions" mini-tournaments in national wrestling, tug of war, basketball and athletics for kindergarten and middle-school children.

Engineers and miners from "Oyu Tolgoi", a combined open pit and underground mining project in Khanbogd district within the south Gobi Desert, were also involved in the community event.

In the central western part of Mongolia, children performed a rhythmic gymnastics display under the guidance of the "Montreal" Olympic Council of Uvurkhangai province.

Director B Chantsaldulam congratulated the NOC representatives, local sporting figures and media, and demonstrated a sports-arts show named "Childhood and the Olympics".

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North Korean players at Mongolian National League

February 17 ( The Mongolian National League basketball competition among teams from the 21 provinces has been taking place in Ulaanbaatar since October. The four provincial teams namely, Arkhangai, Khuvsgul, Sukhbaatar and Orkhon are now competing for medals.

This year, four players with their coaches from the North Korean National Basketball Team are participating in the Mongolian National League matches.

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Gemnet to sponsor CS:GO champions "The MongolZ"

February 17 ( Mongolia's top gaming team, "The MongolZ", is definitely making a name for itself.  In November, 2016, they won the "Counter-Strike:Global Offensive" (CS:GO) tournament without losing a single match to take home the first ever ROG Masters CS:GO trophy.

I order to train for international gaming events, access to fast, top-quality computing equipment is essential. "The Mongolz" appear to have found exactly that; the 'Gemnet' LLC, information and communication network has agreed to sponsor "The Mongolz". Under the sponsorship agreement, the team can practice using 100mbps internet worth over MNT 10 million at the company office.

The ROG Masters is Asia's largest eSports tournament and features a prize pool of US$300000. From September to October, 2016, a total of 590 teams participated in five regional qualifying rounds to earn a spot in the Grand Finals.

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Art & Entertainment

Mongolian artists to participate in documenta 14 exhibition in Germany

February 17 (UB Post) Mongolian artists B.Nomin and Ts.Ariuntugs will participate in documenta 14, a contemporary art exhibition which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany, by the invitation of curator Adam Szymczyk. .

The 14th documenta exhibition, also known as the "museum of 100 days", will be organized from June 10 to September 17. Last October, documenta curators visited Mongolia for the first time and decided to invite two Mongolian artists to participate in the 2017 exhibition.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports are sponsoring the participation of B.Nomin and Ts.Ariuntugs. The Mongolian Contemporary Art Support Association has been selected to act as documenta's official Mongolian partner.

Documenta is considered as one of the world's three major contemporary art events after the Venice Biennale and Art Basel. Mongolia first participated in the 2015 Venice Biennale, opening doors for more Mongolian artists to gain access to the international art world.

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A 15-Year-Old Girl Becomes The First "Eagle Huntress" Of Her Tribe

A 2,000 year old tradition comes to life

February 17 (GOOD) THE EAGLE HUNTRESS, A SOARING DOCUMENTARY ABOUT A 13-YEAR-OLD MONGOLIAN GIRL who learns to hunt with a golden eagle, opens with a mistake. The filmmakers claim that Aisholpan, in all her glory, was the first of her kind. She was not. It turns out there have been others. And Otto Bell, the film's director, may have mistakenly portrayed negative comments from local elders as disdain for the female eagle hunter, a scene which seemed to buttress the argument that Aisholpan was up against 2000 years of patriarchy.

Instead, the comments ended up being isolated grumblings from some of the local neighbors.

These mistakes don't undermine Aisholpan's extraordinary journey to becoming the first female eagle hunter in her tribe in 12 generations. A brave young girl attempting to conquer eagle hunting—an extremely difficult task and a large part of the local Kazakh nomad culture that remains integral to the tribe's survival—is a powerful story even with these minor errors.

As the Kazakh proverb says, "A fast horse and a soaring eagle are the wings of a nomad." And in their culture of movement, western ways of looking at plots and stories can shift under your feet.

The beginnings of The Eagle Huntress

"She's more of a physical persona than a verbal one," director Otto Bell explains about the cherubic star of The Eagle Huntress. "It took some time to build a rapport." Aisholpan, the shy hero of the tale, needed to warm up to Bell and his crew; the scenes of their blossoming friendship help create the story of a young girl growing into conquering her dream.

Bell's quest to locate Aisholpan began in 2014 when the director saw an article in the BBC Magazine about Aisholpan and the lives of her Kazakh tribe in the Altai mountain range in Central Asia. The story captivated him enough to hunt down Asher Svidensky, the story's photographer, in hopes of being introduced to Aisholpan's family.

"We had a Skype," he says. "Then, very quickly, he sent word to the family that we were going to come and talk to them about making a film or at least understanding a bit more about their culture."

Bell hopped a flight to Moscow, then took a connecting flight to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, where he and his team piled into a small twin engine plane for the trek up the mountain. He'd make seven more trips like that to complete The Eagle Hunter. By the end, he was nearly broke.

He was also facing a minor backlash. The final film, including narration by Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, has garnered widespread critical praise and is nominated for a BAFTA (British Academy of Film And Television Arts) Award. But it is not nominated for an Oscar, and The Boston Globe panned the film, accusing Otto and his team of reducing a complex story into easily digestible Hollywood pastiche. Others have also claimed the documentary is too good to be true. Worse, they've stated Bell and his team scripted the action, a claim he flatly denies.

"I think what modern technology allows you to do is really just catching people by surprise," he explains. "I can tell you wholeheartedly that what you see on the screen is what we got."

Otto and Aisholpan's Journey

What is true is that Bell's arrival in Mongolia could not have been better timed. He stumbled into the nascent beginnings of Aisholpan's attempt to conquer eagle hunting with her bird, White Wings. Winters are daunting, with temperatures routinely dropping down to -40 F. Hunts involve trekking several days into the snowy winter to a clearing where prey, such as wild foxes, can be spotted. Hunters work in teams, first dispatching a group to distract the animal before releasing the eagle to do the rest. Once sent to hunt, the eagle makes its own decisions on the best approach to take down the prey.

The result is a mind meld of human intuition and animal bonding, and the relationship between bird and human is so sacred that they are released at the end of their service in the spring. As part of the ceremony, a sheep is butchered and placed as a thank you to the bird, who has been viewed as a member of the family.

"We were very lucky to be able to film in live action," Bell says. "To be there right at the start of the story and be able to follow it through to the end, you don't often get that opportunity in a documentary."

But there is more to the story of Aisholpan and White Wings than a stone cold assassin turned woman's best friend. She is excited that the rest of the world will be able to witness her culture and their traditions, despite some members of her tribe being less than enthusiastic about her being an eagle huntress.

"Before I had some people who disagreed, were jealous. My dad's friends too," she explains via email. "But, now, my people call me 'our little hero' and they say they are proud of me."

A girl spreads her wings

Toward the end of the film, Aisholpan arrives at a festival called the Ulgii. There, she shows precise ease and depth of skill with White Wings and goes on to win her first Eagle Hunter competition. The victory instantly becomes the center of the feel-good documentary. But it also shows the blossoming relationship with her father, a 12th generation eagle hunter. When asked about her father she says, "I have a good relationship with my parents. I listen to them. They are the one who brought me to this success."

And what success it's been. Otto revealed to us that he cut Aisholpan in on the film's purse. She wants to be a surgeon and the money will go toward allowing her to learn medicine anywhere in the world. The family is meeting Bell in London in the spring to attend his wedding.

So with her, the line of Eagle Huntresses continues, even if she is the first in 12 generations in her tribe. The egalitarianism of Kazakh culture ensures their survival—especially as climate change roars in to threaten their way of life.

Winters are growing noticeably more difficult in the mountains, and entire herds can get wiped out overnight in a bad storm. Members of her community have had to head into the city to seek a life. Despite this, Aisholpan trusts the strength of their tribal traditions to survive.

"The kinship between Golden Eagle and my ancestors continued for 2000 years," she says. "It did not change no matter how their lives change. It's the same for me."

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Experience Mongolian Lunar New Year with Mongolian Secret History Camp

February 16 (UB Post) Mongolian Secret History travel company is set to organize a Mongolian Lunar New Year celebration for tourists on February 26 and 27.

Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian Lunar New Year) marks the beginning of spring, and it is one of the biggest celebrations of Mongolia.

The main purpose of the event is to promote Mongolian nomadic way of life and its customs of celebrating Tsagaan Sar.


Where: Mongolian Secret History

When: February 26 and 27

More Information: 99993200

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Mongolian authorities issue "Selfie Warnings" after hiker found dead

February 17 ( On 10th of February, a thirty-year-old Mongolian woman was found dead on Mount Dulaankhaan in the Shaamar soum of Selenge province. According to a source, the woman from Ulaanbaatar has frozen to death after slipping, falling and injuring her head while taking a selfie.  

After the incident, the Selenge provincial administration has issued selfie safety warnings for tourists visiting the region.

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Mongolian Transport or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ride

by Emma Davis, Peace Corps Volunteer

February 18 (In the Land of the Blue Sky) Transportation is always an experience here in Mongolia for several reasons.

  • Punctuality: You actually thought you were leaving at 6:00 pm because that's what the driver told you?! Haha, you fool!
  • Crammed quarters: Unless there are three people to a seat, the vehicle is not full.
  • The roads, or lack thereof:  The only roads that are paved in Mongolia are the major ones between aimag centers and within the aimag centers themselves. Otherwise most roads are dirt or gravel tracks. And don't be surprised if your driver opts for a route free of roads all together. 'Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!'
  • Sharing the roads: Think roads are only for vehicles? The animals have a different opinion. Weaving through herds of horses, cows, goats, sheep, and camels is all part of the journey.
  • The weather: Bad snowstorm? River flooded? You're either not traveling or traveling on a prayer with drastic results. My condolences.
  • Road rules: I'm at a loss for how more accidents don't occur every year in Mongolia. Checking to make sure the way is clear before turning onto a road is rare. Instead of looking, drivers will listen for the honk of an oncoming car to know whether or not it's safe to turn. Signaling, who needs it? Lanes, what are those?

With the above uh… charms of Mongolian transport, it's no surprise that every volunteer has at least one horror story. My worst travel so far was the 14 hour drive back from Govi Altai after Special Olympics. About 12.5 of those hours were spent on dirt roads. At a particularly bumpy part of the road our vehicle became practically airborne with only the two right wheels maintaining contact with the rocky terrain. We also got a flat tire after dark in the middle of nowhere when it was below freezing. But the coup de grĂ¢ce was waking from fitful slumber to a horn blaring and a semi truck driving at full speed towards us only to swerve at the last moment. I wouldn't be surprised at all to have a travel experience that surpasses this nightmare in my remaining 16 months of service.

Plances, Trains, and Automobiles

There are flights to some of the Western aimags and a train line that runs from Russia through Ulaanbaatar to China, but I haven't taken either of those yet so I thought I would focus on road transportation in this post.

Cars: It might not surprise you that Mongolia doesn't have any domestic car companies. That isn't anything special, but it means that Mongolia imports all of its cars and it imports them mainly from other Asian countries, including Japan. In case you weren't aware, they drive on the left side of the road in Japan. That means that a lot of cars on the road have the steering wheel on the wrong side. Now I've spent a lot of time in Scotland so I'm used to being a passenger on the left side of the car on the left side of the road, but it is quite different to be a passenger on the left side of the car on the right side of the road. It just feels wrong.

Purgons: You can find many holdovers from the Soviet era in Mongolia. One of them is the Purgon, but interestingly enough they are only still used in the southern aimags. Purgons are what the VW bus would look like had it been designed for the army and not for hippies. Unfortunately, they're not very reliable. Just ask my site mate Nik about the one time he had to save children from one that got stuck in a river.

Mikr: Mikrs (or micro buses) are Purgons' swanky cousin. Of course, just because they're a step up from Purgons doesn't mean that they're luxury on wheels. During PST we regularly took a Mikr into Darhan for our weekly meeting with the other PST sites. We quickly learned that the back of the bus is not a fun place to be, despite what your middle school peers would have had you believe. On these dirt roads there are a lot of bumps and you feel them the most in the back seats. Mostly, it's just a light jostling, but every so often you are literally thrown in the air to land somewhere other than your seat – usually the lap of the person next to you or the aisle.

People who were suffering from food related discomforts were always given the seats nearest the door. It was only common courtesy. There was no way any of us wanted to be showered by their breakfast because their stomach had had enough of, what we called, 'The Mongolian Roller Coaster.' On the drive back from AmarBaysgalant Monastery I was sitting in the very back of the Mikr when we hit a particularly bad bump and my spine felt like it compacted. It was a few more days before I could carry weight on my left side.

Autobus: The buses, at least those on major routes, are actually quite nice. Most of them are old tour buses from Korea apparently. Thankfully, buses are an exception to the idea that a vehicle isn't full until you're sharing your seat with at least two other people. The bus trip between Ulaanbaatar and my site is roughly 11 hours and it makes one scheduled stop and usually two bathroom breaks. If the word bathroom break conjures images of tidy rest areas on the side of the highway you are sorely mistaken. The bus pulls off the road onto the dirt. Women and men walk out into the fields on either side of the road. That is a Mongolian bathroom break. On my first drive out to site we stopped during a very beautiful sunset. I grabbed my camera to take a picture, but soon discovered I couldn't get a good angle without also capturing a sea of about 30 women squatting. Now I wish I had taken it anyways, but at the time I thought it might be strange.

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Photographer Catherine Hyland Turns China and Mongolia Into Otherworldly Landscapes

The London-based photographer travels through eerie and barren locations of both countries, meant to be set as tourist destinations.

February 16 ((Unrated) When you hear "tourist destination," you typically drum up images of vibrant, family-friendly scenes chockfull of branding, a dizzying amount of food and shopping options, and dense crowds that could very well suffocate the sanity out of you. China and Mongolia however holds very different "tourist destinations," which we're made privy to through the captivating images of London-based Photographer Catherine Hyland for her on-going series dubbed Universal Experience. While both countries are known for their mind-blowingly large landmass, Universal Experience really puts things into perspective, while creating an almost otherworldly feel when scrolling through the eerily barren scenes.

"The aim is to shine a light on both the strange and sublime nature of these spaces," Hyland explains of her project, adding "Whether it's sites of historical importance or natural splendor, each is approached with a heightened awareness of its significance as a place of beauty and grandeur." The whole series was shot on film, and are incredibly striking despite their obvious emptiness. Check out Catherine Hyland's work throughout, and head here to see more of her work.

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Must see places of Arkhangai aimag

February 17 ( GoGo Travel is delivering the must-see places of each 21 aimags of Mongolia as series for our travelholic readers. We start from Arkhangai aimag, located west of the country's center – on the northern slopes of the Khangai mountains. 

Arkhangai aimag covers total of 55,313.82 km2 areas and has 84,584 residents. The main field of economy in the aimag is agriculture, predominantly animal husbandry. According to 2004 data, the aimag was home to about 2 million livestock: goats, sheep, yaks, khainags, horses and camels. 

The aimag center Tsetserleg was established at the site of the Zaya Khuree monastery, which had been first founded in 1586. 

There are currently no flights to Arkhangai aimag. The Post Bus travels daily to Tsetserleg, leaving from Dragon Center in Ulaanbaatar at 8:00 am. The price of a ticket is around 20,000 MNT. Small microbuses and taxis also travel daily to Tsetserleg from Dragon Center. 

Chuluut is a mountain river flowing through a sheer basalt canyon from the valleys of the Khangai Mountains and locates at 30 km from Tariat soum of Arkhangai province. It is 415 km long, the maximum depth is 3 m. The basalt is formed of lava of nearby Khorgo extinct volcano and other volcanos. Chuluut canyon stretches 25 km in long and at height of 20 m. 

The Chuluut river is rich in fish and it is a perfect destination for canoeing or kayaking trip.

Khorgo mountain is an extinct volcano, which locates in Tariat soum at an altitude of 2240 meters above sea level and about 170 km away from Tsetserleg, center of Arkhangai aimag. Khorgo is rich in beautiful scenery of mountains, cliffs, rapid streams, rivers, lakes, extinct volcanoes, green forests and pastures, where the long-haired yaks and horses pasture. 

The mountain is covered with basalt and was registered in State protection as a National Park of 28 square kilometers areas in 1994. Crater of the Khorgo volcano is about 300-400 meter in diameter, 200 meters wide and 100 meters deep. 

The Khorgo volcano erupted around 9 thousand years ago and its hot lava flowed down the East of the volcano along 100 kilometers. It is surrounded by many tourist attractions including a cave for single man, Youth cave, Hell of Yellow Dog and Seven stone ger.

The lake Terkhiin Tsagaan is located near the Khorgo volcano on its eastern end. The lake is around 16km long, east to west, and around 4km to 6km wide, north to south. Most of ger camps and the best camping spots are strung out along the northern lakeshore.

According to legend, the lake was formed when an elderly couple forgot to cap a well after fetching water. The valley was flooded until a local hero shot a nearby mountain top with his arrow; the shorn top covered the well and became an island in the lake. 

Around the lake, you can try numerous fun activities such as swimming, horse riding, fishing, sailing, bird watching and camping.

The Suvraga Khairkhan is a mountain of the Khangai Mountains, locates in Tsenkher soum of Arkhangai aimag. It has an elevation of 3,179 metres (10,430 ft). 

The mountain feeds rivers Orkhon, Tamir and Tsetserleg and its a state worshipped holy mountain, while The State Worshipping Ceremony takes place on top of the Suvraga khairkhan mountain every four years. 

You can trek up to the mountains with the support of horses and camels. The area is wild and has abundant wildlife including wolf, fox, bear and deer.

Except above mentioned attractions Arkhangai aimag has numerous places to visit such as Tamir river, Taikhar rock, Bulgan mountain. The best months to visit is June to September. Most travel companies offer interesting tours to these places.

May your trip will be fun, unforgettable and full of memories.

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