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Thursday, April 21, 2016

3rd Annual Turkish Cultural Days in Ulaanbaatar, April 22-29 with Turkish Film Showcase April 23-29

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

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3rd Annual Turkish Cultural Days in Ulaanbaatar, April 22-29

H.E. Mr. Murat Karagöz, Ambassador of Turkey held a press conference on Turkish Cultural Days, to be organized on 22-29 April. Within the scope of the Turkish Cultural Days, which is aimed to strengthen the Turkish-Mongolian cultural relations, following events will take place.

On 22 April, on the occasion of the International Children’s Day, secondary school students will visit the Turkish Embassy in Ulaanbaatar. On the same day, a children’s performance will be given at the Children’s Art and Creativity Center. Under the theme of “Global Peace and Friendship”, composition and painting competitions have been organized and the winners will be awarded the Turkish Ambassador.

Ambassador Murat Karagöz and Embassy representatives will visit “Onor Bul” orphanage.

The annual Turkish Film Showcase will take place on 23-29, April. Every evening award-winning films will be shown free of charge at Tengis Cinema. 

On the commemoration of the 101st anniversary of the Gallipoli war, the film “Water Diviner” will be screened at the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence. On 25 April, Anzac Day service will take place with the participation of Turkish, Australian, New Zealand and British communities at the Choijin Lama Monastery. Photo exhibition “Sceneries from Turkey” will be opened at the exhibition hall of the Mongolian Artists’ Union. A Turkish Gala Reception will be held at the Residence at 19:00.

On 27 April, H.E. Ambassador Murat Karagöz will give a lecture on “Turkey: Bridging cultures and civilizations” at the National University of Mongolia.

On 29 April, Turkish opera singer Serap Ciftci and pianist Nurser Ugan will give a performance in the State Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Additionally, this year marks the 20th anniversary of establishment of Turkish Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.

AGENDA:

 

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cover Mongolia has been selected Official Media Partner to ASEM 11 Summit

Cover Mongolia has been selected Official Media Partner to ASEM 11 Summit

Mongolia steps up global PR ahead of ASEM11

Ulaanbaatar, April 5, 2016 -- Cover Mongolia is pleased to announce that it, in partnership with two local PR firms, has been selected by the National Organizing Committee of the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM11) as its official Media Partner for International PR.

ASEM11 Summit will be the most significant international dialogue event Mongolia has ever hosted, with over 5,000 delegates expected to attend, including heads of states, governments, parliaments and business leaders from 53 member countries across Europe and Asia.

ASEM Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) will be held on 12-14 July, 2016 at Shangri-La Hotel in Ulaanbaatar, with eight official side conferences leading up to the Summit, from the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP9) Meeting on 21-22 April to the 15th Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF15) in July.

Cover Mongolia, in partnership with PR and branding agencies East Maven and BlueRocket, will implement ASEM11 Summit’s international public relations strategy with a focus on highlighting Mongolia as an emerging market destination with a growing influence in international diplomacy.

“I am very pleased that the Government of Mongolia has hired local experts for this important task of deepening the international knowledge of Mongolia.” said Mogi Badral Bontoi, Founder and CEO of Cover Mongolia. “We believe that our wide-angle approach and proactive communications efforts will lay grounds for a more informed global view of the nation.”

Follow ASEM11 Summit developments at www.asem11.mn, and @asem11en.

###

CONTACT INFORMATION

PR Contact:

Email: asem@covermongolia.com (ASEM-related), info@covermongolia.com

Tel: +976 9999 6779; +976 9999 8870; +976 8877 9173

ASEM Mongolia Office Contact:

E-mail: aseminfo@mfa.gov.mn

Telephone: +976-75772016 (Ext. 303)

Fax: +976-11-322127

Website: www.asem11.mn

About ASEM

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together the 28 European Union member states, 2 other European countries, and the European Union, with 21 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat. The ASEM dialogue addresses political, economic and cultural issues, with the objective of strengthening the relationship between our two regions, in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership.

The initial ASEM partnership in 1996 consisted of 15 EU member states and 7 ASEAN member states plus China, Japan, Korea and the European Commission.

The ASEM Summit is a biennial meeting between the Heads of State and Government, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

About Cover Mongolia

Based in Ulaanbaatar, Cover Mongolia provides market intelligence & analysis for Mongolia stakeholders. The firm's clients are high net worth & institutional investors, government agencies and international organizations. Founder and CEO Mogi Badral Bontoi is a frequent commentator on Bloomberg, Reuters, Financial Times and has spoken at Coal Mongolia, Metals Mongolia, Mongolia Investment Summit HK investment forums.

Follow Cover Mongolia on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Blogspot for Mongolia news coverage.

About East Maven

East Maven is an Ulaanbaatar based, independently owned reputation management agency with a focus on delivering strategic communications services and PR campaigns for tourism, export brands and the entertainment sector.

About BlueRocket

BlueRocket is a brand strategy and communications boutique agency based in Mongolia. It engages into organization of conferences and workshops and provides strategic brand & communications directions to diverse range of clients across spectrums.

-------------------------

Monday, April 4, 2016

[New bonds rally; Sailingstone increases TRQ; Gatsuurt talks ongoing; and MEF concludes with "sock: drama]

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Monday, April 4, 2016

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Jump to: Int'l Market - Local MarketEconomyPolitics, LegalBusinessUlaanbaatarDiplomacyHealth, Education - Culture, SocietyNature, Environment - Sports - Art, EntertainmentTravel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

ASEM 11

Task force set up to organize 7th ASEF Editors' Roundtable in Mongolia, July 7-9

March 28 (ASEM Mongolia Office) A total of nine side events are being planned alongside the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, one of which is the 7th ASEF Editors' Roundtable. Top media professionals from ASEM partners will be attending this event, planned for July 7-9 in Ulaanbaatar. 

The event's Mongolian partner is Mongolia's Union of Journalists (MUJ), and a task force to oversee 8th ASEF Editors' Roundtable preparations have been assembled by the order of Foreign Minister. The Director of MUJ S. Altantsetseg has been appointed as the Task Force's Secretary.

Around 20 foreign and 30 domestic delegates are expected to attend the Roundtable.

Link to post

 

"Domestic flights will not be interrupted during ASEM Summit"

Ulaanbaatar, March 31 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister called Wednesday the 21st meeting of the national council in charge of organizing the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, and discussed with them a limiting of domestic flights and other organization issues.

Considering the expectedly increased occupancy of the Chingis Khaan international airport during the ASEM Summit, the authorities decided to stop all domestic flights this July 13-17. "Over 6,500 tourists have confirmed to travel in Mongolia between July 5 and 18, about 3,000 of whom have chosen tours that require domestic flights," informed the Mongolian Tourism Association (MTA).

The Minister of transport M.Zorigt sounded the request of the MTA to maintain the normal schedule of the domestic flights in July 13-17.

A working group in charge of this issue will be set up soon, said the Minister of Road and Transport M.Zorigt and added that the Defense Ministry aerodrome, located in Nalaikh, is underground a preparation for the domestic flights. The national council members reminded him that the aerodrome safety and technical conditions must be studied thoroughly.

The PM gave an obligation to the secondary working groups to report their preparation and the budget plans.

Link to article

 

Hyundai buses for ASEM

March 31 (news.mn) Recently an agreement was reached with South Korea's "Hyundai" for the supply of buses for the forthcoming ASEM Summit in July. The 43 buses (originally 50), are being bought using a preferential loan of USD 5.5 million from the Export-Import Bank of Korea.

"Hyundai" is supplying 45 seat buses, which are suitable to Mongolian weather conditions. After ASEM, the buses will have a new life on the streets of UB, where they will update the current public transportation fleet. They will also be used on routes between the capital and the regions.

Link to article

 

Int'l Market

ASIA CREDIT CLOSE: New Mongolia notes rally on risk-on sentiments

SINGAPORE, March 31 (IFR) - Asian credits rallied as sentiment remained positive and supportive following dovish Fed comments that suggest chances are fading of a June rate hike in the US.

Credit spreads tightened with the iTraxx Asia IG index narrowing 1.5bp to 143bp/145bp mid-afternoon, while the Japan index tightened a sharper 4bp to 84bp/86bp.

Asian sovereign CDS were performing well as China's 5-year CDS tightened 2bp and Thailand's CDS moved in 3bp.

Among new issues, Mongolia's freshly minted bonds rode the risk-on sentiment to go half a point higher to 100.25/100.75, surprising traders with its sound performance, despite deep debt problems in the country. The 2021s were priced at par two days ago.

Link to article

 

Sailingstone Increases Turquoise Hill Stake by 5.13% to 212.9 Million Shares

March 31 (MarketBeat) Sailingstone Capital Partners Llc increased its stake in Turquoise Hill Res Ltd (NYSE:TRQ) by 5.13% based on its latest Q4 2015 regulatory filing with the SEC. Sailingstone Capital Partners Llc bought 10.38M shares as the company's stock rose 2.42% with the market. The institutional investor held 212.93M shares of the precious metals company at the end of Q4, valued at $540.85M, up from 202.55 million at the end of the previous reported quarter. Sailingstone Capital Partners Llc who had been investing in Turquoise Hill Res Ltd since many months, is probably bullish the $5.00 billion market cap company. The stock is up 1.57% or $0.04 after the positive news, hitting $2.59 per share. About 826,912 shares traded hands. Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (NYSE:TRQ) has declined 11.76% since August 24, 2015 and is downtrending. It has underperformed by 20.78% the S&P500.

Sailingstone Capital Partners Llc is a California-based institutional investor with more than $6.37 billion AUM in January, 2015. Taken from Sailingstone Capital Partners latest Adv, the fund reported to have 18 full and part-time employees. Among which 5 performing investment advisory and research functions.

Link to post

 

Xanadu Mines Pays OU Partner US$150,000, 1.4 Million Shares

April 1 -- We are pleased to announce the execution of a definitive shareholder agreement for Vantage LLC (Vantage or the Company), the owner of the Oyut Ulaan project (OU) where excellent gold rock chip results were recently announced. Vantage is owned 90% by Xanadu Mines Singapore Pte Ltd (XAMSG) and 10% by Enkhtunkh Delkhi (ETD). The purpose of this definitive joint venture agreement is to provide a detailed description of the relationship between the shareholders including the way in which XAMSG will fund ETD's 10% interest in the Company.

The agreement specifies that XAMSG will fund ETD's 10% share of Company expenditure through to a decision to mine by way of a shareholder loan arrangement that carries interest at the rate of 12 month libor plus 6%. This 'carried interest' replaces a 'free carry' arrangement that formed part of the previous heads of agreement and increases the value of XAMSG's share of the Company. ETD also indemnifies XAMSG in respect of any future payment of government taxes in relation to the conversion of the OU exploration licence to a mining licence in 2012.

Consideration payable to ETD is $US150,000 and 1,364,000 XAM shares as detailed in the attached Appendix 3B.

Link to release

 

CIC Gold Appoints Non-Executive Director, Secures HK$12 Million Convertible Loan 

March 31 -- CIC Gold (LSE: CICG) is pleased to provide the following general corporate update.

The Board

The Company is pleased to confirm the appointment, effective today, to the Board of Mr. Graham Fyfe, who is a Perth, Australia based Non-Executive Director with 25 years international experience in the mining sector with blue chip companies including Fluor, Rio Tinto, Murray & Roberts Engineering Solutions South Africa and De Beers. Mr. Fyfe has solid UK regulatory experience and his profile is detailed on the company's website. 

Mr. Geoffrey Cowley has retired from the board to allow for the new technical director appointment with specific gold mine expertise. The company thanks Mr. Geoffrey Cowley for his service to the company and its shareholders and wish him well.

The Company expects in the near future to announce a further director appointment, which will complete the Board appointments following the Gobi Minerals acquisition.

HE Barsbold CEO commentated: "As we progress with significant gold company acquisitions; it is vital the company has a strong independent board based globally with expertise in key facets of the gold sector and the company's operations." 

Working Capital

The Company's is pleased to advise it has secured a new convertible loan facility of HK$12,00,000 (Hong Kong dollars) from a Hong Kong based fund syndicate subject to the new board appointments and there are no outstanding regulatory issues. Should the loan be converted to common shares it will be at 2.00 UK pence per share with a full warrant. The Conversion can only be conducted by board resolution and that it does not impact on the listing rule requirements of 25% share holding in the European economic area countries. This will resolve the dependence of funding from one source, CIC Capital Fund Ltd.  This funding will provide working capital for next 12 months for the expanded group following the Gobi Mineral acquisition.

Link to release

 

Gatsuurt agreement to reflect protection of cultural heritage

Ulaanbaatar, March 31 (MONTSAME) State ownership share in a strategically important Gatsuurt gold deposit was designated to be 34 percent in accordance with the parliamentary resolution No 14 of 2016. The government has been negotiating with "Centerra Gold", the mining permit holder.  

A stage of the negotiations took place this March 8-9 in Toronto of Canada, a second stage was held here March 22-25. The Canadian side expressed an interest to simultaneously sign both the investment agreement and the local community cooperation agreement.

The negotiation group has been working with the other party on every provision of these agreements. The drafts reflect issues of implementing "Safeguarding Cultural Heritage" for the Noyon Mountain and surrounding places, a completion of permafrost study by specialized organization, and a development of monitoring plan for mining operation impacts on rivers and drinking water reserves.

Link to article

 

Haranga Resources Annual Report 2015

March 31, Haranga Resources Ltd. (ASX:HAR) --

RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

The Group's net loss after taxation attributable to the members of Haranga Resources for the year to 31 December 2015 was $1,397,980 (2014: net loss of $2,101,726).

NATURE OF OPERATIONS AND PRINCIPAL ACTIVITIES

The Company's main activity is the transition into the Development phase of the Selenge Iron Ore Project located in Mongolia, with a focus on the construction of the Project after a successful Exploration phase.

REPORT ON OPERATIONS – SELENGE PROJECT (HARANGA RESOURCES: 80%)

During the year, management has been reviewing and continues to review the strategy of the Company in regards to the Selenge Iron Ore Project ('the Project') and the operational options available in order to maintain the Company's position in the Project given the current status of the iron ore market globally. The Company remains focused on and committed to the long term progression of the Project's further development.

Grant of Mining License

During the year, the Company's 80% owned subsidiary Haranga Khuder LLC, which holds the Mineral Exploration Licenses and Pre-Mining Operations Agreement for the Project in Mongolia, was granted a Mining License by the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia ('MRAM') on 19 June 2015. The license area covers 3,480.70 hectares.

The Mining License is valid for 30 years until 19 June 2045. Pursuant to the Minerals Law of Mongolia, the Company can apply to have the license extended up to 2 additional terms of 20 years each.

As a result of granting of the Mining License, the area covered by Exploration License #11334X was split and new Exploration License #18935X granted. The five remaining tenements held by the Company remain unchanged, see Figure 1 below.

During the second half of 2015, the Company has focused on the completion of activities required by the mining related laws and regulations in Mongolia after the grant of Mining License by MRAM. This has included:

(i)    As required by Land Use Agreement, the boundaries of the mining license specified areas being verified and officially registered by a certified contractor appointed by the Geodesy and Land Cadastre Office of Mongolia; and

(ii)   Completion of a Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment ('DEIA') with the Company having received the final draft of the ('DEIA') required by Mongolian mining law. Management is reviewing the DEIA before finalisation and submission to the Special Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Green Development.

Metallurgical Test Work

During the year a metallurgical test was undertaken on samples taken from the Project by ALS Iron Ore Technical Centre ('ALS') in Wangara, Western Australia. The test work was completed in January 2015. A total of 400.1 kg of samples, including 196.9 kg of samples representing Bayantsogt deposit and 203.2 kg of samples representing Dundbulag deposit, were prepared and delivered to ALS for testing.

The metallurgical test results demonstrated a magnetite concentrate of marketable specification with high iron grade and low impurities suitable for Chinese steel producers.

CORPORATE

During the financial year the Company completed a fully underwritten non-renounceable rights issue to raise $1.4 million (before costs). The right issues was fully underwritten by Golden Rain.

On 29 January 2016, the Company announced it was undertaking a non-renounceable entitlement issue to raise up to $1,367,383. The issue was partially underwritten by Golden Rain Holdings Limited. The issue closed on 19 February 2016 having raised approximately $156,945 before costs. The Directors have three months to allocate the shortfall.

Board Changes

On 15 January 2015 Mr. Daniel Crennan resigned from his position as Non-Executive Director with Mr. Jack James and Mr. Stephen Lo being appointed to the Board on that date. On 3 February 2015 Mr. Stephen Lo resigned from his position as Non-Executive Director with Mr. Michael Riady replacing him on that date. Mr. Amarbaatar Chultem resigned from his position as a Non-Executive Director on 29 May 2015. Mr. George Tumur was appointed as a Non-Executive Director on 15 June 2015 and resigned on 19 June 2015.

Link to report

 

Tian Poh Annual Report

March 31, Tian Poh Resources Ltd. (ASX:TPO) --

Principal Activities

The principal activities during the period of the entities within the consolidated entity were the exploration for minerals in Mongolia.

Operating and financial review

Group overview

The Group's tenements are located Mongolia. Please see Figure 1.

The projects can presently be categorised as early grassroots exploration stage, with the exception of the Huh Tolgoi Project, which can be classified as advanced exploration stage and the Nuurst Thermal Coal Project which has a JORC (2004) Reportable Coal Resource.

Nuurst Thermal Coal Project

The Nuurst Thermal Coal Project is a wholly owned exploration licence located 120 kms south east of Ulaanbaatar in an area with a number of operating coal mines and is 6 km from existing rail infrastructure allowing direct access onto the existing Trans-Mongolian Railway line.

The Nuurst Thermal Coal Project has JORC (2004) Reportable Coal Resource of 478.3 million tonnes (326.1 million tonnes Measured, 103.8 million tonnes Indicated, 48.4 million tonnes Inferred), which was compiled in November 2012 by consultancy CSA Global Pty Ltd.

The coal type is considered as a sub-bituminous dominantly A to B coal, according to the U.S. ASTM-ASA classification parameters and a brown to hard coal according to the UN-ECE Classification.

Link to report

 

Wolf Petroleum: Resignation of Non-Executive Director Daniel Crennan

March 31 -- The Board of Directors of Wolf Petroleum Limited wish to advise that Mr Daniel Crennan has resigned from the Board, effective immediately.

The Board thanks Mr Daniel Crennan for his contribution to the company and wishes him the best of success in his future endeavours.

Link to release

Final Director's Interest Notice

Back to top

Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 +1.88%, ALL -0.03%, 678.8 Million Shares, 2.8 Billion T-Bills

April 1 (MSE) --

Link to report

Back to top

Economy

Historic low 2,050.85/USD set March 29, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, April 1 Close

4/1

3/31

3/30

3/29

3/28

3/25

3/24

3/23

3/22

3/21

3/18

3/17

3/16

3/15

3/14

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USD

2,048.79

2,048.90

2,050.73

2,050.77

2,050.85

2,050.69

2,050.15

2,049.36

2,048.62

2,048.21

2,047.66

2,046.21

2,041.62

2,044.82

2,046.52

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EUR

2,331.73

2,322.22

2,317.94

2,293.48

2,291.00

2,288.98

2,288.27

2,293.13

2,303.16

2,304.75

2,310.37

2,303.11

2,263.65

2,273.23

2,275.22

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JPY

18.23

18.23

18.26

18.04

18.06

18.14

18.16

18.23

18.34

18.38

18.39

18.31

17.97

18.09

17.99

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GBP

2,943.39

2,939.25

2,956.85

2,914.35

2,906.16

2,896.91

2,886.92

2,903.33

2,938.85

2,946.45

2,959.38

2,916.87

2,878.99

2,916.22

2,937.47

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RUB

30.64

30.24

30.14

29.75

30.20

29.98

29.65

30.27

30.26

29.79

29.90

29.80

28.73

28.95

29.27

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CNY

316.91

316.86

316.35

315.03

314.87

314.77

314.82

315.48

315.75

315.81

316.50

314.98

313.08

314.16

315.10

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KRW

1.78

1.79

1.78

1.76

1.76

1.75

1.76

1.77

1.77

1.76

1.76

1.75

1.71

1.72

1.72

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SGD

1,517.96

1,518.32

1,516.48

1,496.20

1,497.30

1,495.76

1,496.02

1,499.39

1,505.51

1,505.65

1,509.13

1,501.09

1,477.51

1,483.04

1,487.46

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/e78a2df0-8efa-4dfa-adb2-9cf7540dfc08.png

CAD

1,572.61

1,579.97

1,571.20

1,552.09

1,549.92

1,548.51

1,545.07

1,564.28

1,565.92

1,565.73

1,573.91

1,568.46

1,526.05

1,531.70

1,542.39

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AUD

1,572.14

1,569.76

1,566.76

1,545.77

1,545.83

1,544.48

1,533.61

1,555.77

1,556.03

1,554.08

1,562.47

1,560.44

1,521.11

1,526.36

1,539.70

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HKD

264.20

264.23

264.46

264.38

264.35

264.36

264.26

264.19

264.21

264.14

263.99

263.75

263.03

263.51

263.75

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CHF

2,133.05

2,124.20

2,123.57

2,104.65

2,099.67

2,097.89

2,098.95

2,100.72

2,111.33

2,108.95

2,114.81

2,097.92

2,064.75

2,074.80

2,073.90

Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮2,038 Sell ₮2,048), Khan (Buy ₮2,038 Sell ₮2,049), Golomt (Buy ₮2,043 Sell ₮2,052), XacBank (Buy ₮2,043 Sell ₮2,051), State Bank (Buy ₮2,040 Sell ₮2,051)

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

Link to rates

 

BoM FX auction: USD bid/ask, CNY bid offers declined, accepts $5.5 MNT swap offers

March 31 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 31st, 2016 the BOM has received buying bid offers of USD 0.9 million in a rate between MNT 2049.00-2049.10, selling bid offers of USD 6.0 milliion in a rate between MNT 2050.80-2051.50 and bid offers of CNY 30.3 million in a rate between MNT 315.20-315.81 respectively. The BOM did not accept any bid offers.

On March 31st, 2016, the BOM has received MNT Swap agreement buying bid offers equivalent to USD 5.5 million and USD swap agreement selling bid offers of USD 20.0 million from local commercial banks and the BOM accepted the MNT swap agreement buying bid offers of USD 5.5 million.

Link to release

 

Interview with UNDP Resident Representative

April 1 (gogo.mn) During the second of MEF 2016, we had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Mongolia, about United Nations programmes and other important topics.

Beate Trankmann was appointed as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the UN Development Programme Resident Representative for Mongolia in August 2015.

Ms. Trankmann has had a diverse career at the UNDP since the late 1990s, particularly in the Asia region, holding senior various roles. She holds a master's degree in political science and a bachelor's degree in China studies, both University of Hamburg.

For information, please watch the full interview below.

Link to interview

 

World Bank Country Director: "Glass account took effect and increased government transparency tremendously"

April 1 (gogo.mn) The two day Mongolia Economic Forum (MEF) 2016 took place on March 30, 31 under the motto "Lessons, Challenges, Solutions". We invited James Anderson, Country Representative of World Bank in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for short interview about governance, economy forecasts and World Bank-Mongolian government cooperation.

James Anderson (Jim) is currently the World Bank's Country representative for Mongolia, a country familiar to him from his time there in the mid-1990s. Before returning to Mongolia, Jim spent six years working on a range of governance issues in Vietnam, focusing access to information, transparency, anticorruption, and human rights.

Jim's earlier work in Mongolia focused on the informal sector and the impacts of large-scale privatization. A confirmed "governance data junkie", he is making no effort to kick the habit. He received his PhD in Economics from the University of Maryland.

For more information, please watch our full interview video below.

Link to article

 

Mogi: "2016 will be the worst with almost 0 percent growth"

April 1 (gogo.mn) MEF 2016 was held under the motto "Lessons, Challenges, Solutions". During the second day of MEF 2016, we invited Mr. Munkhdul "Mogi" Badral Bontoi for short interview to discuss the current economic situations & forecasts, investment trends, bonds and possible solutions.

Munkhdul "Mugi" Badral Bontoi is Market Intelligence Specialist, Founder & CEO at Cover Mongolia. He gave us very insightful, in-depth speculations and analysis on important economic and market trends.

For more information, please watch the full interview below.

Link to article

 

Mongolian Economic Forum focuses on solutions for diversifying the economy

April 1 (UB Post) The seventh annual Mongolian Economic Forum held from March 30 to 31, under the slogan, "Lessons, Challenges, and Solutions", underlined solutions for diversifying the nation's economy and determining its future trends.

During the opening ceremony of the forum, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg emphasized that current economic difficulties in Mongolia were not impacted by any external impacts, but by poor state policies.

The PM said that since Mongolia adopted democracy, the country has faced several economic challenges, some of which derived from domestic issues and some not. He underlined that when Mongolia's economy was improving, Mongolians made a choice to expand its consumption, not learning from its prior mistakes and crises.

"When the prices for coal were drastically increasing in 2011, Mongolia could have move forward on Tavan Tolgoi, and started building its railway. And if government didn't take back TT from the private sector in 2013, they would have completed the railway and Mongolia's coal export would have looked differently," said the PM.

Ch.Saikhanbileg stressed, "Current difficulties facing the country can be considered not as the world's, but Mongolia's; not business, but political; and not economical, but mental difficulties. In order to overcome difficulties, political parties, the state, and the public need to treat their political and economic mentality, otherwise, the nation's politics and economics won't be treated."

Saikhanbileg noted that a country can't be developed based only on its natural resources, and Mongolia needs advanced technology and qualified personnel. He underlined that Mongolia needs to develop other sectors and diversify the economy.

Even though Finance Minister B.Bolor reported last week that the government's overall debt has reached seven billion USD, during his speech, the PM noted that the government's debt is 4.9 billion USD and Mongolia's total debt owed to commercial banks and the private sector has reached 21 billion USD.

Director of International Finance Corporation's East-Asia Department Vivek Pathak underlined that Mongolia needs to equally develop other sectors, and not focus only on the mining sector. "By developing all sectors, including tourism, agriculture, and focusing on meat exports, Mongolia will overcome economic difficulty and become a big player in the global market," said Pathak.

The Chairman of the Office of the President, P.Tsagaan, said that he hopes the issues and solutions discussed during this year's economic forum will be important in determining the nation's future economic trends.

Attending the second day of the forum, President Ts.Elbegdorj emphasized that if Mongolia had implemented its mega projects earlier, the nation's economy wouldn't be facing its current difficulties. Ts.Elbegdorj underlined that because the country's economic situation is difficult, seniors and women take out loans against welfare allowances for food and medicine. He added that the numbers of financially viable entities are decreasing day by day, and they are taking out loans to pay employee salaries.

"Mongolia's budget sees approximately one trillion MNT in deficits annually, and an amendment is made to the state budget. Amending the budget means cutting loans for citizens and businesses. If we had implemented mega projects, many new jobs would have been created and entities would have money. Mongolia is not a luxury country that can lose opportunities. We don't always get chances. We are losing our opportunities because of politics. That's why we need to talk about politics not economics. We need regulations on making politicians accountable," the Mongolian President said.

The second day of the forum was held under the theme of "Business Environment".

On the second day of the forum, Director of Mongol Idea Kh.Khaliunbat underlined that other countries don't succeed in implementing the mortgage loan programs being carried out in Mongolia. He said that available apartments have been in excessive supply several times. "Prices for apartments fall when surplus exceeds demand, in accordance with market principles. The prices for apartments are not decreasing in Mongolia, and apartments worth 8.7 trillion MNT are frozen in the domestic market," Khaliunbat claimed.

Subconferences of the forum were held on "Safe Food – Sustainable and Efficient Business", "Social Insurance Upgrade", "Partnership for Development", and "Accurate and Capable Government".

Organizers of the forum underlined that this year's forum focused on solutions, while forums held in previous years discussed only challenges and issues that need to be tackled, and were not focused on solutions.

They also underlined that over the past three years, the forum organizers followed a policy to not invite foreigners to the forum. They said that Mongolia needs a podium for discussing its domestic issues. The organizers announced that they are going to hold a business summit in June with foreign investors.

Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold presented closing remarks at the two-day forum.

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Mongolia Economic Forum 2016 concludes Montsame, April 1

 

Mongolia Economic Forum: The Third Challenge

March 31 (Mongolian Economy) The first day meetings of the Mongolia Economic Forum 2016 were held yesterday under the theme "Lessons learned, Facing Challenges and Solutions Pending." This year's forum is unique in that new topics such as "Less, better government", "Social security reform", "Lawyers' competitiveness", "Women's leadership", "Mongolian's intellectual value" and "Long-term development policy of Mongolia" were introduced.

Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg gave the opening speech of the forum. He mentioned that Mongolia faced major challenges such as 1998 Asian economic crisis and 2008 global economic crisis and stated: "The price of coal has skyrocketed due to flooding which destroyed the mines of the world's largest island continent. The price of coal, currently at USD 26 per tonne, used to be sold at USD 150 per tonne back then. Thanks to that, we were able to suddenly overcome the crisis. "As a result, our economy has become too lavish, with this idea that commodity prices will always increase. We have started to push back foreign investment by bragging that we have resources enough to feed the world. The prime minister described these as the third major challenge.

Regarding the lessons learned from the above, he said: "It has become evident that a country will not become rich just by having natural resources, as advanced technologies, financing and skilled engineers are clearly needed. Now we also understand that we need to diversify sectors other than mining and save rather than use everything up."

He added: "In order to overcome the difficulties, we have to get rid of the causes that lead to the problems" and named several methods to do so. First, invigorate our economic thinking and monetise the deposits. Secondly, not pander to pretenders who claim to be patriots and fight them together. Thirdly, cooperation of parties that must be held accountable on the national level.

After the prime minister finished his speech, Director General of East Asia Department of ADB,Ayumi Konishi started his speech. He mentioned that he has implemented and successfully organised many projects and programmes in cooperation with Mongolia over the past few years and mentioned the opportunity to successfully develop through regional integration. He advised that a tight monetary policy needs to be implemented to overcome the challenges Mongolia facing today and stressed that it will be a difficult choice, as it can cause difficulties in the short-term, but will bring results in the long-term. Mr. Konishi also greatly emphasised that fiscal sustainability is important.

The plenary sessions of the day begun with one under the theme "Economic Outlook: World and Region." Minister of Finance B.Bolor, President of the Bank of Mongolia N.Zoljargal, Ts.Bayarsaikhan MP, IFC East Asia Pacific Director Vivek Pathak, IMF Resident Representative for Mongolia Neil Saker, Head of Ernst & Young's Asia Pacific Financial Services Office Keith Pogson and Dr.Ch.Khashchuluun exchanged words in this session.

Foreign guests and representatives of international organisations were saying that expectations of a commodity price plunge on the global market being an external factor of Mongolia's economic issues are going to end by the end of this year, to recover or at least stabilize. Keith Pogson said: "China still needs copper. In order to implement major projects such as the Silk Road initiative, China's demand for copper will increase."

Vivek Pathak who gave the main speech of the session and stated: "The state needs to be able to foresee the negative effects of sudden foreign investments that came into the economy" and said that although foreign investment benefits the economy in the short-term, it does not lead to a long-term stable development. Therefore, he advised the establishment savings and increasing of domestic investments. In doing so, the economy needs to have many pillars by choosing sectors less dependent on mining, such as tourism, food production and information technology.

President of the BoMN. Zoljargal said that the economy needs to be distanced from its dependence on mining and the current low inflation is becoming an area to implement a policy to reduce loan interest rates and to support export-oriented, knowledge based production.

Minister of Finance B.Bolor said that we will be able to overcome the economic difficulties by making the budget accountable and approving it without a deficit, and that the economic sphere has that possibility. Ts.Bayarsaikhan MP shared his view on the construction sector, saying that dependence on mining can be reduced by stabilizing the construction sector's seasonal characteristics and supporting its production, so that it can become another pillar of the economy.

Economist Dr. Ch.Khashchuluun emphasised fiscal policy and mentioned that restructuring of state institutions was a good step and needs to continue. He criticised that companies are playing a significant role in the economic difficulties and said that Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi must become subsidiaries directly under the management of Erdenes Mongol LLC.

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Mining Ministry holds March Transparent Mining briefing

April 1 (UB Post) On Wednesday, the Mining Ministry held its regular Transparent Mining meeting, reporting on the sector's latest news and providing information about mining industry issues.

In February, the nation's mining sector explored 3.6 million tons of coal, 1.1 tons of gold, 199,200 tons of oil, and produced 22,100 tons of fluorspar concentrate, 246,800 tons of copper ore concentrate, 72,400 tons of iron ore concentrate, and 12,300 tons of zinc concentrate. A total of 273,800 tons of copper concentrate, 575,300 tons of iron ore concentrate, 1.7 tons of gold, 1.4 million tons of coal, and 194,900 tons of oil was exported in February.

The Mineral Resource Authority generated 5.3 billion MNT for the state budget, while the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia earned 20.7 billion MNT.

A parliamentary working group created by order of Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg held the first stage of negotiations on establishing a deposit utilization agreement with Centerra Gold on March 8 to 9 in Toronto. Centerra Gold owns a special license to utilize the Gatsuurt deposit. The second stage of negotiations was held from March 22 to 25 in Ulaanbaatar. The Canadian side expressed interest in establishing deposit utilization, investment and cooperation agreements with local authorities.

The sides will work on a program funded by Centerra to protect cultural heritage, and take measures to promoting cultural heritage sites near Noyon Mountain, conduct permafrost research with professional organizations, make and implement a monitoring plan for water resources.

Concerning nuclear energy waste and Mongolia's joining of international conventions on nuclear waste, General Secretary of the Nuclear Energy Commission G.Manlaijav told journalists that the public has misunderstood some issues concerning these developments. He said, "Articles 11 and 12 of the convention on nuclear waste management states that a country that creates radioactive waste will be responsible for burying it. But even if Mongolia exports its uranium, there will be no grounds for returning the waste. There are big countries and entities exporting uranium, but there is neither a legal sanction nor convention that says nuclear reactors working with your uranium now return fuel and waste. Such a situation won't occur."

The Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection announced that prices for fuel can be lowered by 100 MNT. Head of the PAM G.Ulziiburen said that prices for oil are not stable and went up over the last month. He said, "At that beginning of January, prices for oil decreased to 27 USD per barrel. At that time, politicians were making noise, but when prices went up again they became silent. Soon, the mining sector will start working intensively, at that time the prices for fuel will go up again, but we will regulate this issue." G.Ulziiburen noted that the fuel market is fluctuating by 7.5 to 10 percent, and added that prices for fuel are generally expected to increase.

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Politics & Legal

Mongolian president blames politicians for blocking China-based joint mining projects

ULAN BATOR, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj on Thursday blamed populist politicians for blocking large mining projects, which has caused an economic crisis in the land-locked country.

On the last day of Mongolia's annual Economic Forum, Elbegdorj said that "politicians of our country are really irresponsible," referring to Erdenechimeg Luvsan, head of the parliamentary working group that stopped a large mining deal involving an international consortium led by China Shenhua Energy, Mongolian Mining Corporation and Japanese Sumitomo.

Luvsan is a female lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party.

In December 2014, the consortium won the bid to develop the large coking coal deposit Tavan Tolgoi, 270 km from Mongolia's border with China.

With a total estimated reserve of 6.4 billion tons, Tavan Tolgoi is one of the world's largest untapped coking and thermal coal deposits.

The Mongolian government regards the deal as necessary to boost the Mongolian economy as it will inject much-needed cash into the domestic economy and send a positive signal to the land-locked country's international investors.

However, the parliament's working group blocked the project in 2015 before it started.

Elbegdorj demanded that such irresponsible politicians be held accountable and not be elected a second time. He warned the voters not to be cheated again by such populist politicians, with parliamentary elections drawing near.

Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg on Wednesday also blamed populist lawmakers and politicians who often called to review foreign investment agreements with international investors and criticized them for pretending to be patriots, saying the business community needs to be respected and trusted.

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MEF 2016: Plenary session on Sustainable Development Policy 2030

March 31 (gogo.mn) Plenary session on Sustainable Development Policy 2030, moderated by Mr. Badamdash.D, Exexcutive director of Eagle News Agency commences at Grand Hall of State House. 

Panelists:

  • Beate Trankman, UNDP Resident Representative, UNs Resident Coordinator, 
  • Mr. Garamgaibaatar, MP
  • Mr. Byambatsogt.S. MP and Head of Minority Caucus at Parliament 
  • Mr. Oyunbaatar.Ts, MP and Deputy PM
  • Mr. Demberel.S, MP 
  • Mr. Battsereg.N, MP and Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism 

Topic:

  • The importance of "Long Term Development Policy Concept of Mongolia-2030", passed by the Parliament, and challenges in its implementation and further steps 

Sustainable Development Goals 2030 was approved last year at United Nations General Assembly meeting and Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj signed official document.

Beate Trankman, UNDP Resident Representative, UNs Resident Coordinator:
"SDG is now made into SDP-2030 in Mongolia, including 17 programmes which will be implemented over 15 years. Government needs to align their policies with their objectives. Another important consideration is funding and private sectors, international organizations and governments need to engage and collect necessary financing for these 17 programmes. It is pleasure to say that UN is ready to support Mongolia. UN will focus on providing effective support."

Mr. Garamgaibaatar, MP:
"Scientists and researchers in all sectors drafted the Sustainable Development Policy. We approved many SDP before. However most of them were not implemented. 

Parties to draft platform based on long-term development policy starting 2016.  

Mr. Byambatsogt, MP:
"We, as a whole nation, is in bad shape because we made lots of mistakes in the past"

During Q&A, renowned economist N.Dashzeveg, made some aggressive comment. He said "All of these numbers doesn't fit at all. Government reducing poverty percent to 18%? Is this a joke? It's like a wish-list."

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Related:

MEF 2016: Break out session on Project Financing

MEF 2016: Break out session on Innovation-Business Opportunity

MEF 2016: Plenary session on Women`s leadership

MEF 2016: Plenary session on Safe food-Sustainable business

MEF 2016: Plenary session on Business Environment

Second day of MEF 2016 starts

 

MEF attendee throws his sock at "economy killer" Speaker Enkhbold

March 31 (gogo.mn) 2 days MEF 2016 officially concluded after closing remarks by Mr. Enkhbold Z, Speak of Parliament.

During the closing remarks, forum attendee, economist L. Naranbaatar threw his socks at Mr. Enkhbold Z.

He said to Speaker: "You are economy killer. Resign! Do you understand me. You lead the nation into poverty and debt" and security service took outside after this unexpected turn of event.

In response, Parliament Speaker said "How did a sick man like this get in here. Must be because of the upcoming election. There are many sick people like him" and continued his closing marks.

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Related:

"Shoe-throwing" incident occurs at MEFMontsame, April 1

"Sock attack" at "Mongolian Economic Forum"news.mn, April 1

 

Z. Enkhbold's MEF 2016 closing remark

March 31 (gogo.mn) This year's Mongolia Economic Forum was held under some 20 discussions in plenary and breakout sessions and discussed many facing issues, challenges. 'Lessons, Challenges, Solutions' was the motto for this year. 

2 days MEF 2016 was closed after closing remarks made by Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold, as he said "We focused too much on mining sector and we got dependent on it. We learned our lessons. We have Parliament election coming soon. Next government must work really hard and take accountability on all their actions. Raising our competitiveness is crucial in our future development. We made some progress in energy, infrastructure and governance". Therefore, Mongolia Economic Forums 2016 concluded.

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Parliament extraordinary session fails to start on MPP boycott

April 1 (UB Post) The three-day Parliamentary irregular session, which has been postponed six times due to insufficient attendance by members of parliament, was scheduled to start on March 29 at 9:00 a.m. but was cancelled due to a boycott by members of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP).

The agenda of the irregular session includes a draft law on joining the 1997 Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. The signing of the convention was protested on Wednesday by NGOs, and the session agenda was altered to include a bill on banning the entry of spent fuel and nuclear and radioactive waste.

The Speaker urged the MPP faction to actively participate in the irregular session, stressing the urgency of the issues on the agenda. On Thursday, the Speaker announced that the Spring session of Parliament will begin next week.

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President receives CEO of Natural Resource Governance Institute

Ulaanbaatar, March 31 (MONTSAME) The leader of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj Thursday received Mr Daniel Kaufmann, the president and CEO of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI),

The latter, who is taking part in the 2016 Mongolian Economic Forum (MEF) in Ulaanbaatar as the guest of honor, said he knows about Mongolia and its President and underlined an importance of an implementation of the rule of law and of the anticorruption actions.

The President supported these views, "such actions are main the factors of forming a good governance and properly developing countries", and noted Mongolia is intensively fighting with the corruption.

"Mongolia is one of the twenty wealthiest countries in the world with natural resources. But if the country is not able to exploit these resources in a proper circulation or does suffers from a poor governance and corruption, the wealth will badly affect a development," Elbegdorj said.

"Mongolia is an open country that cherishes human rights and freedom. It also has media freedom, and social media is openly developed. It is a good aspect of accelerating the governance development and combating corruption. We are sharing our experience with Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, East Timor and Vietnam," he said.

Mr Kaufmann said he appreciates Mongolia's transparency in budget expenditures and the fight against corruption.

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Judagt Mongol Union organizes 'Union of All People' gathering

April 1 (UB Post) Judagt Mongol Union organized a gathering under the banner "Union of All People" on March 30 at Victory Square to "have their voices heard" and submitted a draft amendment to the Law on Election to the President and Parliament.

The Associated Press reported that over 2,000 demonstrated in a "rare public protest over foreign mining recessions in Ulaanbaatar".

According to the organizers, it was a gathering, and not a protest. Approximately 400 people attended the gathering in Ulaanbaatar.

Head of Judagt Mongol Union J.Gombojav said that they organized the gathering for three main reasons.

"Firstly, we're gathering for independence, unity, and national security. Secondly, for policy makers who listen to the public's voices, and lastly, we're fighting to leave our country in one piece for our future generations," said J.Gombojav.

The gathering was not only organized in Ulaanbaatar but also in Darkhan, Erdenet, Govi-Altai, Khentii, and Tuv provinces at the same time.

The gathering was attended by economists, sportsmen, and politicians and representatives from over 50 unions and NGOs, including the Federation of Senior Citizens of Mongolia, Mongolian Women's Federation, and Mongolian Democratic Union. Head of the Mongolian Democratic Union and Parliament member Kh.Battulga, and Parliament members L.Erdenechimeg and G.Uyanga, attended the gathering.

"It's been 26 years since these democrats promised the public to catch the 'bird of happiness'. But these people who were talking about catching the bird have been caught themselves. The people who have promised to construct a paradise have failed our country. Hundreds of people's hopes have been squashed. The country is stuck in a deep debt swamp. The country is going to end up empty. They have showed us how not to take care of a country in the last 26 years. All of our money is dedicated to solving internal conflicts.

"There's no nationalism without the unity of herders and planters today. We have to develop nationalism with democracy," said MP G.Uyanga during the gathering.

Judagt Mongol Union encouraged the public to make the right choice and vote for a candidate who cares for the public in the upcoming election. The union submitted a draft amendment to the Law on Election to President Ts.Elbegdorj and Parliament. The amendment hopes to abolish the article that chooses 28 members of Parliament from closed party lists and end the use of vote counting machines.

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Former Construction Ministry state secretary taken into custody

April 1 (news.mn) The Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) has taken R.Erdeneburen, the former State Secretary from the Ministry of Building and Urban Construction into custody. This took place on 30th March. Sources have informed that he is suspected for having abused his official position.  It is still unknown, whether IAAC will provide detailed information or not.

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Zamiin-Uud: Customs officers arrested

April 1 (news.mn) On 30th March, the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) has arrested several senior customs officers at Zamiin-Uud, Mongolia's main border crossing with China. The IAAC, stated that they had been arrested on a charge of corruption under provisions 268 and 269 of the 'Law on Crime". According to some sources, it is claimed that IAAC agents searched the houses of the officers until 05.00 am.

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Premier working in Dornogobi

Ulaanbaatar, April 1 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg Thursday began a working tour to Dornogobi aimag. The governor of Dornogobi P.Gankhuyag briefed him about a present situation in his locality and some works.

Dornogobi's Mandakh and Khatanbulag soums operate wind farms, the rest of soums are connected to high-voltage electric lines. The above two will be connected to these lines soon, the governor said.

The aimag also has set goals to boost industries of possible productions and to fulfill strategic objectives for helping aimags to become economically-independent, apart from building the "Sainshand" industrial complex and a freezone in Zamyn-Uud soum, he said.

The governor informed the PM that Dornogobi counts all kinds of livestock, and a farm of female camels is projected to be created with an investment of about 100 million Togrog from the local budget. Recent years, land farming has been growing thanks to improving of irritation and developing of greenhouse farms, the governor said.

He added that a test has been conducted to plant buckwheat and rice together with the Land Farming Organization of Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture.

Dornogobi has been focusing on its tourism industry, so a 42km road between the aimag's center and the Khamar Monastery, and a field of 3,900 square meters have been commissioned in the monastery and Shambala Palace, Gankhuyag reported, adding that about 200 children from Dornogobi visited Japan in the last four years.

Dornogobi is one of the provinces who boost their great construction. A connection of the aimag to the capital city by auto roads will be a key to develop the tourism. Dornogobi could become a leading province in the tourism, said the Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg. He pointed out Dornogobi has been selected as the top province in external relations and tourism, successfully realizing the governmental action programme, and then granted the prize.

After this, the Premier legged the "Soyombo" center which renders state services of archive, labor and bagas (smallest administrative unit in localities). He also visited a tourism area near the Khamar Monastery.

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Related:

PM appreciates Dornogobi's business incubator centerMontsame, April 1

 

Fat cops: survey reveals 1 in 3 overweight

March 31 (news.mn) A medical survey of all Mongolian police officers conducted last year shows that one in three is overweight; the exact percentage is 31.7%.

According to the report, 0.4% had been injured in the line of duty, often resulting in them becoming invalids and unable to work. Typical injuries are dog bites, knife wounds, broken arms and concussion.

The medical research has also showed that 10.9% of them have nephritis, 6.1% chronic stomach inflammation, and 5.6% spinal problems.

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Mogi: another one quoting Genco's rant

Mongolia needs to diversify to avoid recession

Mongolia is suffering from an over-dependence on mining as global commodity prices and demand from China decrease: diversification is urgently needed.

April 1 (Global Risk Insights) Having capitalized on the global commodity boom, and its proximity to a ravenous China, Mongolia has until recently seen rapid economic growth. As Chinese growth forecasts in the coming years sink towards the mid single-digit range, Mongolia enters 2016 skirting with recession.

Mongolia seeks to bolster finances

As commodity exports dry up, Mongolia is faced with a revenue shortfall. On March 14th, the government received a $250 million loan from Credit Suisse. Furthermore, Mongolia also recently issued $500 million in government bonds, in order to raise needed capital. Taken together, the new bonds and Credit Suisse loan represent efforts to raise funds equivalent to 6.5% of GDP.

These are vital cash injections, as Mongolia has seen its GDP growth rate drop from a high of 17.5% earlier in the decade to just 0.1% for 2016 and 0.6% for 2017, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Ayumi Konishi, director general of the ADB's East Asia department sums up the situation facing Mongolia.

"Consistent fiscal policy, effective continuing efforts to diversify the economy, and ensuring social protection are important challenges of economic management in Mongolia. In this light, the decline in the country's consolidated deficit from 11.4% of GDP in 2014 to 7.9% in 2015 is a commendable achievement, although further steps are needed."

Problems in the mining sector

Mongolia seeks to diversify economy, faces hurdles

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Resource Nationalism?

By Julian Dierkes

March 31 (Mongolia Focus) One of the dominant foreign views of Mongolian politics is that they're rife with "resource nationalism". This perspective is reproduced in many conversations with people in the mining or financial industry and is often repeated by visiting journalists who parachute into Ulaanbaatar for a couple of days.

Just recently, this meme has come up again in reports, probably inspired/organized by "Jenko" Battulga, of protests in Ulaanbaatar in March 2015. Note that this definitely falls within the context of Spring being a season for demonstrations in Mongolia, as I discussed with CoverMongolia's Mogi just some weeks ago.

I have argued for some years against the portrayals of anything in Mongolia as suggesting "resource nationalism". Our standard riposte has been: there's no coherent ideology, there's no movement, there are no leaders. In fact, it continues to be surprising that there are no organized, vocal pro- or anti-mining movements that are recognizable as such, nor are there pro- or anti-foreign investment movements. That is not to say, of course, that individual Mongolians or even individual Mongolian politicians and policy-makers do not hold views that might be "resource nationalist", but simply that there is no movement and that the impact of such views is thus limited. But maybe, we've just misunderstood this perspective on Mongolia all along and have been to imprecise in our understanding? So, let's try to be more specific.

Defining Resource Nationalism

The term itself is somewhat common in the economics, political economy and general political science literature. It is applied in areas that I am not overly focused on, so let's pick some workable definition to apply to Mongolia.

Let's go with a very recent scholarly publication in a high quality political science journal:

Jeffrey D. Wilson (Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University) "Understanding resource nationalism: economic dynamics and political institutionsContemporary Politics, 2015, DOI: 10.1080/13569775.2015.1013293

Not only is this recent, but it applies the concepts developed in the article to a number of resource economies, something that we are hoping to do here with the case of contemporary Mongolia.

Wilson writes that,

"Resource nationalism is a strategy where governments use economic nationalist policies to improve local returns from resource industries. […] It involves governments exercising control over resource industries through selective and discretionary resource policies, which are designed to achieve some set of political and/or economic benefits that would otherwise not obtain (Wilson, 2011)."

Hm… it seems to me that this applies to a wide variety of contexts outside of the mining industry. Isn't all industrial policy pursued by OECD countries, for example, nationalist in this way? The Canadian government certainly tries to structure policies in such a way as to support the Canadian auto industry?

Let's see if more specific descriptions of policies associated with resource nationalism can clarify matters.

Again, Wilson (2015):

[Resource nationalism] is typically characterised by a core set of policies:

·         Policies targeting the ownership of resource industries, which mandate some form of local or state ownership, or in exceptional cases, the nationalisation of mining and energy enterprises (Mares, 2010).

·         Policies constraining the operations of resource firms – through industrial policy requirements and distortionary trade regimes – that encourage certain behaviours such as minerals processing or the provision of subsidised energy to local consumers (Ward, 2009).

·         Policies designed to capture economic rents for public purposes, through changes to resource taxation and fiscal collection systems that increase the share of the profits from resource production accruing to the state (Walde, 2008).

It seems that the most common example that people have in mind with references to resource nationalism is Hugo Chavez and the "re-nationalization" of the Venezuelan oil industry. This is largely the first of the types of policies described by Wilson in the above, i.e. the threat that a national government might nationalize or confiscate private and/or foreign-invested mining projects. Clearly, this is the ultimate political risk for all foreign investment, including Rio Tinto's participation in the Oyu Tolgoi project, for example.

"Policies targeting the ownership of resource industries"

Let's look at the first type of policy in the Mongolian context then. It seems quite clear that the definition of strategic deposits and the mandatory state participation in the development of such deposits is clearly a policy that targets the ownership of mining projects. This applies to such mega-projects as Oyu Tologi and Tavan Tolgoi as much as to smaller, as-of-yet-undeveloped projects like various rare earth projects.

The regulations around strategic deposits thus seem to qualify under this definition of resource nationalism, but again, most developed resource jurisdictions also pursue restrictions on foreign ownership (certainly true of Canada), and no one labels these as "resource nationalist", reinforcing the sense that this label is more generally applied to developing "investment destinations", and by investors and observes who adopt the standpoint of investors.

This perception of a largely foreign-applied label is consistent with the analysis present by Orhon Maydar (Univ of Arizona) at the recent Berkeley conference on "Deadly Modernity".

"Policies constraining the operations of resource firms"

Criteria here make it sound like this is a concern with trade distortion primarily. I don't think that this concern has been raised in the Mongolian context very much, though there are significant worries (and many foreign warnings) about the need to diversify the Mongolian economy which spark discussions of smelters and other processing facilities that would be included among industrial policies.

But again, short of full trade liberalization, these are certainly policies of a nature that are very common in most developed countries.

"Policies designed to capture economic rents for public purposes"

Clearly a very tricky business. The fundamental fact holds that resources are owned by "the people" in almost all national contexts, and the Mongolian constitution also specifies such ownership.

The difficulty (and the accusations of "resource nationalism") arises when that ownership right is translated into licenses, concessions, etc. for industrial exploitation. From my perspective, there is no magic formula by which to balance royalties, taxes, ownership stakes or all the other forms that have been used to ensure benefits accrue to the nation and people that hold resources.

Obviously, "rent-seeking behaviour" is identified as one of the great risks to resource-rich developing countries and a prime potential cause for the "resource curse" especially when coupled with corruption.

Yet, it is also clear that unless significant net benefits accrue to the population (net of financial, social, environmental, etc. costs), no government should decide to develop mineral resources given their responsibility for the well-being of the population. That is especially the case in a democracy where the pressure on governments to act in the interest of the people should be even greater.

Next to the remote (in the case of Mongolia) threat of complete nationalization, trepidation about finding a fair level of revenue that accrues to the public from mega-projects like OT has been the main struggle in Mongolia. This is also the issue where no answer exists, and that is most easily exploited by politicians (especially in times of lead-up to elections, like right now) by making claims about excessive (whatever that means) shares of revenue being claimed by "foreigners".

Conclusion

I don't think the "resource nationalism" label or concept is useful in understanding Mongolia even though investors and financial journalists (and their headline editors) like to trot it out every time someone dares to question the nature of arrangements with foreign investors. Note that the label is rarely applied to developed economies, reinforcing the view that it is primarily used as a pressure tactic against developing countries like Mongolia.

I will continue to refer to "resource nationalism" in quotes, and make my case against this concept.

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Patching the front hem with the back hem

April 1 (UB Post) The Mongolian phrase "patching the front hem with the back hem" perfectly describes Mongolia's economy in the past. Making short-sighted decisions to cope with a lack of resources and spending extravagantly at the hint of money without thinking about the future. Sound familiar?

Although Mongolians are extremely good at following foreign culture and banging their chests with the mention of their history and of their historically renowned leader Chinggis Khaan, who redrew the world map as often as he wanted, we Mongolians are also extremely bad at learning from the same history we chant and the histories of the countries that we so admire.

But the Prime Minister's speech at the Mongolian Economic Forum: Lessons, Challenges, and Solutions on March 31 gave me hope that we've learned and that we have development potential. Instead of the dramatic – impossible even – promises, and phrases such as "becoming the next Asian tiger" and "rapid development", the forum heard wiser and more grown-up phrases such as "the need to save economic surplus" and "policies in line with the state budget". The Prime Minister listed the places where the country went wrong.

According to President of Mongolbank N.Zoljargal, the fact that we didn't save or circulate economic surplus during our economic boom is the lesson. The challenge is to decrease dependency on mining and diversify the economy, and the solution is to implement the New Balance policy. The New Balance policy emphasizes sustainable debt management and a balanced budget.

MP S.Bayartsogt noted that fish have five-second memories and parliamentarians have four-year memories. He said that it was essential for Mongolia to get out of this cycle for long-term sustainable development. It's not only in Mongolia where parliamentarians work to get re-elected. The main issue is that the majority of the Mongolian public has a shorter memory than the parliamentarians. The people meant to monitor the implementation of policies and the decisions of the state are lacking in enough awareness to allow politicians to get away with their wrongdoings.

James Anderson, Resident Country Representative of World Bank in Mongolia, said that Mongolia is experiencing positive progress, such as establishing the Independent Authority Against Corruption and laws on transparency and budget sustainability. He noted that Mongolia needs to pay attention to public inclusion when developing laws, as it raises public awareness.

Let's say politicians wanted to have a longer memory than normal parliamentarians, that they wanted to include the public's voice when making laws to encourage public participation, and implemented the New Balance policy. How developed a country would Mongolia become? I can only hope and wait to see what the people I choose next June remember, that they follow these words and turn them into action. Even if these changes were implemented, you might ask, "What about foreign debt and pre-existing problems?"

Without a doubt, a common fear prevails in people's hearts when politicians start talking about debt. It seems to me that questions such as "Will we end up adopting the Chinese yuan as our currency like Zimbabwe?" and "Will we go into default and spend months and years in economic hardship like Greece?" are actually made up by politicians to control the public. As Donald Trump continues to prove through his unimaginably successful electoral bid for the U.S. presidency, that fear appeals to the public more than hope, I suspect that Mongolia is already being ruled by fear. But according to Professor L.Oyun at the Finance Department of the School of Economics at the National University of Mongolia, separating the terms "debt" and "loan" are essential to understand when talking about debt in the first place. L.Oyun says that debt refers to a loan that hasn't been paid in time. I don't know if politicians don't know the difference between the terms, or if they use the fact that the public can't distinguish between them, because they use "debt" in almost every sentence they utter. Then it's uncertain whether the claim that every Mongolian is born with a 15 million MNT debt is even true. "Chinggis and Samurai bonds are just loans, not debt," said L.Oyun.

The future can be bright for Mongolia, and as former democratic revolutionary S.Zorig said, "We can see a light at the end of the tunnel." According to L.Oyun, Mongolia is fully capable of repaying the Chinggis and Samurai bonds starting from 2017. "Our researchers have conducted a study about it. We have no problem repaying the Chinggis and Samurai bonds if the monthly rate of return reaches 11.7. Mongolia's ability to make payment depends on what the bond funds are being spent on and where the benefits come from. The way I see it, we can pay. I believe that people are creating this expectation that we can't pay, perhaps for political reasons.

"I don't know who calculated and came up with the idea that Mongolia will go into default. But we just keep saying Mongolia is going to go bankrupt. We can't explain the economy with one number," said L.Oyun.

Anyhow, if these politicians actually stay true to their word instead of forgetting them, as they usually do, and if Professor L.Oyun's calculations are correct, Mongolia might as well regain rapid development before we run out of back hem to patch the front.

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The Uranium Shakedown: How Mongolia and Russia Conspired Against Western Investors (Part 2)

By PHILL HYNES

In the second installment of the curious case of Khan Resources (part one is here), we explore Khan's turbulent history in Mongolia and document a deal with Russia's leadership to swap Khan's uranium mines for hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and debt forgiveness.

March 28 (Frontera News) Even before Mongolia awarded itself the right to Khan's uranium deposits, the writing was on the wall.

Speculation was rife that Russia was yearning for the influence it once had over Mongolia's uranium deposits during Soviet times. The ambition was clear from Moscow's growing control of the international uranium market, for which it already controls 12 percent of global reserves.

Overtures from Russia notched up after Mongolia's 2008 election, moderately to begin with, and then more forcefully.

In an agreement that year, Mongolia committed to cooperate with Russia in identifying and developing its uranium resources. Vladimir Putin, as Russia's revolving door Prime Minister in 2009, met with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. Then in May of that year, Putin visited Mongolia for talks on participation in mining uranium. It was only two months later, in July, that Mongolia began expropriating licenses from companies like Khan under the cloak of the New Energy Law.

A month later, Russia's President, Dmitri Medvedev, paid a visit to Mongolia, accompanied by Sergei Kiriyenko, chief of the Russian state's nuclear energy company, Rosatom.

On that visit, Medvedev agreed to end a $150 million dispute over unpaid Mongolian debt "to move ahead with the Dornod [uranium] deposit", which holds over seven times as much uranium as Russia's total annual production. Tellingly, Khan Resources management was not even invited into the conversation despite the fact that the Canadian company had been developing the Dornod site since 2005 and legally owned 58% of the joint venture.

At the same time, Medvedev generously signed off on a $300 million loan for agricultural development. Prospective atomic and infrastructure deals were also thrashed out.

It doesn't take a Mongolian horse-trader to understand that a sudden dispatch of $450 million in investment and debt forgiveness wrapped with promise of future infrastructure deals was being exchanged for an opportunity to win the Dornod license for uranium.

A History Of Bad Deals

After the expressions of Russian interest in 2008 and backroom deals of 2009 came high drama in 2010, with accusations that foreign investors were in breach of Mongolia's laws.

Along with Russia's objectives, Mongolia's politicians had another motive – the manifestation of a national curse: resource nationalism.

This has been a constant throughout both the 2008 and 2012 governments, thriving on the fractious nature of existing parties, intra-party factionalism and the growth in the number of new populist fringe party entrants – especially ahead of the 2016 elections. Resource nationalism has been a common ticket to earning political capital and votes.

Acutely sensitive to dependency on foreign investor giants like Rio Tinto Group as well as China's economy, interest from Russia has been seen as a useful counterweight, intertwining with the nationalist agenda. Blinded to the damage to foreign direct investment, nationalist legislation has flowed.

The following timeline shows the buildup of nationalist fervor, the sharpening of Russia's focus on resource security and the legal proceedings between Mongolia's government and Khan:

2009

·         In January 2009, the Russian and Mongolian governments announce a joint venture tied to uranium extraction. Later that year, Russian state-owned company ARMZ submits a hostile bid for Khan Resources stock in Canada. Khan's board rejects the offer.

·         In July and August, Russian president Medvedev and prime minister Putin visit Ulaanbaatar within a month. The stated reason for both trips was to pursue control of the Mongolian uranium market.

·         Mongolia introduces the "Law to Prohibit Mineral Exploration and Mining Operations at Headwaters of Rivers, Protected Zones of Water Reserves and Forested Areas" – aka "the Long Name Law." In essence, it bans mining in environmentally sensitive areas, imposing constraints particularly on gold. This nod to pastoral nationalism – or nomadism – proves highly indicative of what's to come.

·         The passage of Mongolia's new Nuclear Energy Law leads to the suspension of all 106 of the country's existing licenses. Re-registration for those licenses is required the same year.

·         Russia steps up its focus on uranium as a national security objective.

2010

·         In January, Mongolia's parliament passes a law giving the government an uncompensated 51% stake in any resource extraction project with which it was involved.

·         Russia's Pravda publishes report on Dornod project in Mongolia titled "Russia To Receive Control Over Uranium."

·         The Mongolian government places a moratorium on all new mining licenses.

·         Seeing the situation develop against them, Khan Resources begins negotiations with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to be acquired. The move spawns protectionist anti-Chinese sentiment within Ulaanbaatar and enables the Mongolian government to revoke Khan's mining license.

2011

·         Khan announces its lawsuit against Mongolia's government for $326 million, citing the "expropriatory and unlawful treatment of Khan in relation to the Dornod uranium deposit." Mongolia challenges the tribunal's jurisdiction over the claim.

2012

·         In Mongolia, anti-Chinese sentiment builds ahead of the Parliamentary elections, with parties using nationalist sentiment to foment opposition against foreign investment.

·         The Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL) is passed in May, just before the elections. More than anything, this shamelessly protectionist and reactionary law was responsible for Mongolia's abrupt fall from grace among foreign investors. It gives the government leverage against any foreign state-owned enterprise looking to dominate Mongolia's natural resources. The enactment coincides with a proposal from the Aluminum Corporation of China (popularly known as CHALCO) for a deal that would have provided them with control of Oyu Tolgoi, Mongolia's largest 'super-mine' and one of the world's largest resource extraction projects.

·         An international tribunal is reported to have agreed with virtually all of Khan's arguments and concludes that Mongolia is in breach of obligations under its Foreign Investment Law. As a consequence, Mongolia also falls afoul of the multilateral Energy Charter Treaty.

2013

·         Mongolia abruptly cancels all 106 exploration licenses issued to foreign and domestic companies between 2008 and 2009, with no legal recourse given. This follows a corruption investigation, in a somewhat contradictory process that was intended to revive investor confidence.

·         Khan's appeal for the right to pursue a $300 million claim against ARMZ, the Russian mining arm of Rosatom, is dismissed by an Ontario court.

·         The disastrous Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL) is repealed following the collapse of FDI, yet government approval requirements and other restrictions remain for state-owned foreign investors. The new 'Invest Mongolia' Agency now has full authority for approving acquisitions by foreign SOEs of over 33% of a Mongolian asset.

·         The Mongolian government attempts to communicate a message of equal treatment for local and foreign investors, yet xenophobia and resource nationalism threaten a different reality. A crescendo of acidic rhetoric toward foreign investors, particularly its nemesis Rio Tinto in the Oyu Tolgoi standoff, continues to build within the national media.

2015

·         Of the 106 licenses, 42 are found to have been obtained illegally, 29 are returned to former holders, six are sold to new owners and five become property of the state.

·         An international tribunal orders Mongolia to pay Khan Resources $100 million, an amount in line with previous offers made for the Dornod asset (notably from China's CNNC in 2010), plus interest and costs.

·         "The Mongolian government, in order to protect its own interests, will work for the invalidation of the arbitration award," the Justice Minister says. The country launches a formal appeal in France.

·         Mongolia lifts the June 2010 moratorium on new exploration licenses. The exploration licences area, however, is cut from 400,000 ha to 150,000 ha.

·         Rio Tinto and the government settle their dispute, triggering a no-confidence challenge for the Prime Minister, which he survives. The two sides then sign a $4.4 billion package to restart the Oyu Tolgoi project. The deal comes six months ahead of elections, in which addressing the lack of foreign investment is a major campaign issue.

2016 

·         Mongolia's Finance Minister announces it will pay Khan $70 million by May 15 to end its dispute. In exchange, Khan agrees to stop pursuing court certification of its award in the U.S., which could allow it to seize Mongolian commercial assets there. The settlement comes a week ahead of the Toronto mining convention. Canada is the biggest direct investor in Mongolia after China.

The curious case of Khan Resources concludes tomorrow as we chronicle events leading to the stripping of the company's Mongolian assets and its chairman's mysterious death in an Ulaanbaatar hotel. Click Here to Read Part 3

Phill Hynes and Mark Burke are analysts at ISS Risk, a frontier and emerging markets political risk management company covering North, South and Southeast Asia from its headquarters in Hong Kong

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ADB Loan to Erdenes Mongol Will Support Economic Diversification Drive

April 1 (gogo.mn) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $35 million loan to help state-owned asset management firm, Erdenes Mongol LLC, strengthen its management and investment capacities, allowing it to more effectively support the country's drive for economic diversification.

"Shifting away from an over-reliance on income from mining is crucial for sustainable and inclusive growth in Mongolia and Erdenes Mongol would play a key supporting role in the government's efforts to diversify the economy," said Hiroko Uchimura-Shiroishi, an ADB Financial Sector Specialist. "However the company's performance is hindered by current constraints in its corporate structure and capacity. This technical assistance project will help it manage assets and identify investments more effectively, in line with its mandate."

Mining in Mongolia accounts for 20% of the country's gross domestic product and this heavy reliance makes it vulnerable to commodity demand and price volatility. In the past, Mongolia has also lacked an effective mechanism to channel funds raised from natural resources into the broader economy.

State-owned Erdenes Mongol was created in 2007 to manage state assets and to raise funds for infrastructure investments needed to broaden the economy. However, the company has been hampered by legal, corporate and management limitations, which the government is seeking to address through regulatory changes including amendments to the Human Development Fund Law, which were approved in January 2016. This will allow the company to strengthen its finances and operate as a commercial entity.

ADB's technical assistance loan will help the company draw up a full corporate strategy for its operations, with midterm and long-term targets. It will support Erdenes Mongol for its project development and management in line with international standards. Erdenes Mongol will embed proper systems for investment decision making, sound corporate governance, and prudent risk management.

To accompany ADB's loan, Erdenes Mongol is providing counterpart support equivalent to $6.2 million for the project, which will be carried out over 3 years, with an expected completion date of April 2019.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.

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Related:

ADB loan to Erdenes Mongol will support economic diversification driveMontsame, April 1

USD 35 million to strengthen Erdenes Mongol LLC's governance approvedMongolian Economy, April 1

 

Ayumi Konishi: USD 35 million loan for Erdenes Mongol to develop management capacity

March 31 (Mongolian Economy) We talked with Ayumi Konishi, Director General of East Asia Department of the Asian Development Bank about Mongolia's economic prospects while he was in attendance for the Mongolia Economic Forum.

You participated in the Mongolia Economic Forum yesterday, and talked about the prime minister's speech. You seemed to receive what he said quite positively. In a broad sense, how do you see Mongolia's economic prospects?

We published our growth figure yesterday, which was 0.1 percent for this year and 0.5 for next year. So, the number already tells you the story. This year and the next are not going to easy, but as I said in my speech, no country can keep growing at a fast pace all the time. Although the slowdown over the next two years may be difficult, it is necessary, because right now the most important thing for Mongolia is really to ensure economic stability. For that, tight monetary and fiscal policies are essential. Combine that with the global as well as regional economic situation. The Asian and global economy is not picking up very fast this year, and that is something we anticipated. It's a messed up life. However, let's say the government tries to accelerate growth. That is only going to aggravate the fiscal situation, the deficit and the balance of payment situation. It would be very dangerous. It is tempting for anybody running the government to employ a little more expansionary policy, but the government has resisted this temptation so far. I would like to congratulate the prime minister for having pursued tight economic policies.

What do you think are the main challenges for developing Asian countries?

There are several things. We talked about China's economy, its rapid growth. There is going to be a moderation in China's growth, which will impact growth in other countries, but for resource-based economies such as Mongolia, the effect will be stronger. So, what do the other Asian countries have to do? Keep working on reforms. All of these countries face their own challenges. They need to reform their economies, despite difficulties.

The main theme of the forum was "lessons, challenges, solutions." What are the main lessons for developing Asian countries, and especially the mining sector?

The session yesterday morning did not go very deep into the lessons part, but one main lesson was something the prime minister was talking about: that the investment regime and investment-related policies have to be consistent. At least Mongolia has gone through that period of fluctuation. There have been policy reversals in certain areas – treatment and protection of investors. It certainly has not helped Mongolia. So, as the prime minister said, Mongolia has to have consistent policies in order to keep attracting investors.

You mentioned that USD35 million is going to Erdenes Mongol. Would you elaborate on this? Why is the money going there?

Yesterday, we were talking about the need for Mongolia to keep assets, particularly during the good times. It is another one of the lessons the country should have learned. When the economy or the mining sector was doing well, Erdenes Mongolia could have kept or saved some of those gains, rather than spending, to prepare for the bad times. The global economy and the mining sector go through ups and downs. The important thing is that a country has a very strong asset management structure. Let's face it – the main responsibility of Erdenes Mongol is actually to look after and manage an important asset of the country. Erdenes Mongol also believes that their mandate is not only to look after mining assets, but also to invest in other assets, such as social assets, infrastructure and other assets of country in order to help diversify the economy. They were given a very important mandate, but then when you look at their management capacity, it is not sufficient. The thing is that at least there are legal changes being made to make Erdenes Mongol be operated like a company. The legal changes made this February were very welcome changes, but changing the legal framework alone is not enough. You have to develop the capacity of Erdenes Mongol, and they themselves wanted to borrowUSD35 million to develop that capacity. The loan is scheduled to be approved by our board today.

What is the interest rate on that loan?

It is a regular ADB loan from its resources, and the interest is like any other loan. It is very cheap.

Are you not afraid of giving this loan, since the Mongolian mining sector is not doing well?

The Mongolian government is providing a guarantee, which makes it a state-guaranteed loan. However, we are giving this loan not because of the state guarantee. We initially thought of making a different arrangement, but it turned out that us lending to Erdenes Mongol with a state guarantee was the best way, so that is what we did. We appreciate the kind of vision Erdenes Mongol has for its own future. We participated in many discussions, changing the management structure among other things. Now, with the new legal changes, Erdenes Mongol and its management structure will be de-politicised. They want to have a professional board that includes independent board members, so that it runs more like a commercial company. The vision that a country such as Mongolia would like to have an asset management and investment company, like in Malaysia and Singapore, is something that we have to help.

Erdenes Mongol LLC's position on how they plan to spend the USD35 million loan from the ADB: The Ministry of Finance of Mongolia, Erdenes Mongol LLC and the Asian Development Bank signed "a Memorandum of Understanding on the preliminary scope of the project, financial and institutional arrangements and project development and preparation process" on December 1, 2015 in order to obtain the required funds from the Asian Development Bank's technical assistance special fund for Erdenes Mongol LLC, Baganuur JSC, Shivee Ovoo JSC, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC and Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, for the purpose of improving performance and management capacity.

Under the project, the parent company's management functions will be strengthened by introducing a new, integrated management information system entirely covering integrated financial management, supply and project management, and the parent company's as well as its subsidiaries' management skills will be improved.

Operational effectiveness of the parent company and subsidiaries will increase through implementation of the project, and a total of MNT 3.3 trillion is estimated to be added to the budget from 2016 to 2024, including mineral royalties' payments of MNT two trillion, other taxes amounting to MNT 825 billion and dividends of MNT 518 billion. In addition, this corporation's effective operation will be boosted by15 percent a year on average; the capacity to increase revenue will improve; and positive impacts on the economy will increase.

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Kh.Khaliunbat says strong words about nowadays business environment

Ulaanbaatar, March 31 (MONTSAME) On the second day of the Mongolian Economic Forum (MEC) Thursday, a director of the "Mongol ID" LLC Kh.Khaliunbat delivered a "Business environment in Mongolia" report.

Mr Khaliunbat is confident that the past and present of the business environment, its reasons and solutions must be studied. He said the current difficulties in the business environment have been caused by the business people themselves, "an example are the construction and financial markets".

The competitiveness is the way of overcoming the difficulties, plus, a young generation is a big factor, "in other words, latest high tech and jobs can be developed easily when there is the competition," he said.

"Our construction sector has many years of history. Demand is several times higher than the supply. Right now there are many empty houses at the market. Most importantly, an increase in the supply causes price drop, according to the market principle. However, housing prices have not decreased yet. We stuck MNT 8.7 trillion in this market". 

"There is no country, successfully implemented the mortgage loans. Construction sector is heading to the wrong way. There are many rude businesses that have no research and marketing analysis," the report says quoted by gogo.mn website.

"As we concern on financial market, 88 percent of the bank sector is owned by four banks. ATMs or the cash machines are the most unproductive expenses of this sector. ATMs of all banks crowded the entrance of any shops and stores. All things in Mongolia have no logic. Bank bought the 91.6 percent of total bonds released by the government. Monopoly seems the image of the business environment in Mongolia. It is related not only to bank sector but also to all sectors.

"To sum up, business environment has not capability, it is unprofessional and politicized. At the beginning of the 20th century, we were all similar. We changed from that time by wearing suits and using iPhones.

"The world connects to all types of infrastructure. But we are staying behind. Mongolia has three million people, one million of which are employed. There are still 700 thousand people an employment of whom is unknown. Therefore, one of every three works. A reason of the unemployment is that we grant too much welfare. The investment is the vital spirit of Mongolia.

"Competition creates new technology and employment, so the competition is the only solution and way to follow. Businesses must accept and agree with this. The competition is needed greatly in the state service.

"Mongolia needs to stop giving welfare and to liquidate unprofitable government units. Our next hope is the young generation," it says.

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Prime Minister works at ATC tower

Ulaanbaatar, March 31 (MONTSAME) Thanks to starting to use Air Traffic Control (ATC) with a radar system, the distance between airplanes flying in Mongolia's airspace has shrunk from 150 to to 30 km. Now the radar system has launched using the ADC-D system, so the distance of traffic control has reduced, approaching to international standards.

It was said by a head of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) during a working visit of the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg at the ATC tower of the Chingis Khaan international airport on Wednesday.

The Premier appreciated an introduction of the new system at ATC, saying Mongolian territories are now able to be observed by a radio locator and satellites. By doing so, a number of flights, races over territories of Mongolia as well as an income from the navigation service will rise, he said.

In terms of geographic location, Mongolia can become the air transportation hub, "foreign airlines have airplanes repair services in Mongolia, and if we make these services regular, a revenue from air transportation will increase, contributing thus to the diversification of our economy," the Premier said. He noted that the governmental decision has been made to construct a repairing hangar and a hub of technical services at the new international airport of UB in Khoshig Valley.

Mr Saikhanbileg highly spoke the techniques and technologies renovation made in the air transportation industry, and added that a matter will be resolved soon to install a radio locator.

In 2015, the number of flights over territories of Mongolia augmented by 4.3 percent thanks to developing the ATC system at a newer level.

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Exploration discovers 27.8Mts coal at Nalaikh

April 1 (gogo.mn) Ministry of Mining stated that "Sumber Khudag" LLC conducted thorough exploration at south west area of Nalaikh deposit and been developing feasibility studies to establish underground mining.

Government decree in 2013 obliged related authorities to identify significant deposits in Nalaikh coal deposit and research the possibilities of establishing suitable underground mining.

"Sumber Khudag" LLC did the required exploration accordingly and results showed that it's expected to create some 700 hundreds of new employments, mine 700-1000 thousand tonnes of coal annually, and contribute 3-4 billion MNT in local budget.

Last week, working group appointed by the Ministry of Mining and local authorities paid working visit to Nalaikh district while meet with self-employed coal miners and exchanged views.

Currently there are 35 entities in Nalaikh with special operations permit. But the operations of these entities are only seasonal and employments face safety and hygiene issues. Also 600 hundreds of people work on 45 non-permitted pit-holes.

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Global standard agroproduct logistics center project underway

Ulaanbaatar, March 31 (MONTSAME) Delta Holding LLC has been implementing a project on "Mongol Farmer" logistics center, in order to establish a comprehensive system of transport, storage and distribution of agricultural products that meets the international standards.

It was said by executive director of the company Ts.Ganbat to parliament Speaker Z.Enkhbold March 31 during the latter's getting au fait with the project implementation progress.

Mongolia is importing some 68,500 tons of vegetables worth 27 billion MNT (13.2 million USD) each year, noted Ganbat and introduced to the Speaker the project. "Initially commissioned storage pits are storing 180 tons of cabbage, 140 tons of onions and 120 tons of potatoes, along with some apples and roses. With a full implementation, the project will cover 33.2 percent of the domestic vegetable storage demand, providing the consumers with healthy foods," he said. The project is to create 24 jobs and 1,000-2,000 workplaces indirectly, he added.

The estimated cost of the project is 25 billion Togrog (12.2 million USD), six billion Togrog of which has been provided by investors. The project has taken 7.5 billion MNT credit in the margin of price-stabilizing programme, and repaid 5.0 billion by March 31, and is expecting to pay the rest within the coming eight months, he went on.

In the second phase--in 2016-2017, the project will build 2,200 ton capacity storages and sorting shops for vegetables and meat.

A farmer from Mandal soum of Selenge aimag D.Batmunkh said 50 percent of harvester vegetables are disposed of due to the poor storing conditions. To prevent this, landfarmers sell their vegetables on very low prices in the autumn, "and this causes profit loss".

The project executors asked the government to support on this socially and economically important project.

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Khan Bank Named National Top Employer – Best Social Insurance Premium Payer

April 1 (Khan Bank) The Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, National Social Insurance Council and Social Insurance General Office named Khan Bank the National Top Employer – Best Social Insurance Premium Payer in 2015 for its valuable contributions to the country's development.

Khan Bank has received this award as a result of its achievement in enrolling all of its employees in social insurance, submitting reports on time and making valuable contributions to fund collection in 2015.

Khan Bank, the leading company in the Mongolian banking and financial sector, was selected upon recognition of its support of the country's economic development and concrete contributions to the state budget on the basis of good corporate governance and transparency, as well as for its leadership in providing social guarantees to its employees

We are grateful for the honor and will continue in our commitment to making timely and complete contributions to the social insurance fund.

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Social Entrepreneurship Labels Need To Go: It's All About Supply Chains

March 30 (Forbes) This entrepreneur's story is movie material: Quit your job, hop on a plane to Mongolia, drive 20 hours out in the desert with some goat herders (who you just met at dinner two days ago), and then get stuck out in the Gobi desert for a month.

That was the beginning of Naadam, a clothing brand arguing for supply chain innovations.  Matt Scanlan and Diederik Rijsemus, two Marco Polo types, are looking to replicate what they've done for cashmere in Mongolia around the world: travel to corners of the Earth, build familial ties with suppliers, invest in their raw material, and develop a cyclical business model that feeds into itself.

Mongolia was the start.  Rijsemus and Scanlan found themselves out in the middle of nowhere — literally nowhere.

"When I thought they said country, I thought something like driving out to Connecticut from New York, not 15 hours off-roading in the desert," says Scanlan, referring to his inaugural journey with goat herders whom he had stumbled upon in Ulaanbaatar. "Once we got there, it didn't end, we were greeted with goat's milk vodka.  And you can't be rude and refuse."

Getting drunk on the local vodka was just the start of their cultural immersion.  Scanlan and Rijsemus dug in, learning how to ride motorbikes, herd goats, and milk them.

"It was a phenomenal experience," says Scanlan who was just 24 then, and had recently quit his job at a VC firm in New York City, frustrated and eager for something new.

Being an analyst though at his previous gig, which required long hours on the phone, interviewing folks, Scanlan quickly started asking their new herder friends about the trade. He quickly learned that the cashmere trade was lucrative and yet, corrupted to feed the pockets of the traders, not the herders.

"These guys [the herders] were making some of the world's finest wool and yet they were selling to middlemen who bought it at the cheapest price possible," Scanlan says.

He decided to build a different model: a non-profit that would inoculate the goats, ensuring their long-term health (and Naadam's supply chain) and a for-profit arm that would purchase the cashmere at higher rates from the herding communities.

The duo consulted local governments, conducting auctions where the price was set higher (to support the herders).

"We didn't need the extra margin. Plus we got to then secure that supply chain.  We could pick from the lot, and ensure we were getting the best quality possible."

The practice enabled them to avoid the traditional markups by working directly with the herders.  In the first year, he bought about m 40 tons of cashmere.

Stateside, they ran a Kickstarter campaign for $100K and went on to raise $1.2 million.  After two years, the business, Scanlan says, has broken even.

Those purchases have come with benefits: Nadaam put in $150,000 into their non-profit, inoculated 250,000 goats, and thereby impacted over 800 families.

Now, Scanlan wants to take this model elsewhere — cotton from Turkey, Alpaca from Peru, merino wool from Australia. In fact he has already begun to lay the groundwork for Alpaca fibers from Peru, an experience where he met some resistance from the locals.

When I promised them that I would help their animals, if they let me have first go at their fiber, they were hesitant.  "This is a place where others have come from outside and promised them all kinds of things and not delivered.  They've screwed before and that plays into the psyche," Scanlan says admittingly.

But he's certain that with time, and gained confidence from the local suppliers this approach can work:  "We guarantee we will purchase from you.  Wherever we go, we can improve the profitability.  The variations will be in the different cultural norms."

However, don't call this "sustainability," he says.

"I hate the word sustainability. It's condescending.  What if I asked how your marriage is? If you said it's sustainable, or sustaining, then that's not doing very well. So is that the word we should be using?"

In fact, he's not a fan of most buzzwords, be it ethical businesses, conscious commerce, or social entrepreneurship.

"What we're doing is too substantive almost — we're ahead of the time.  This isn't bullshit.  We actually do it.  It's much harder to do it," he says.  

Now 27, Scanlan is ambitious about his vision of creating global supply chain using the non-profit, for-profit combo.  

Some days, he says laughing, "I scratch my head still wondering how did I get this far?"

But the secret, he notes, is in the simplicity:

"There's nothing new about we're doing that someone else can't do.  There's no proprietary information here.  We built relationships.  If you help people, they will respect you and trust you.  Trust is something that's been lost in recent times."

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Diplomacy

Mogi: way overdo, no?

Russia to hand over historic Mongolian geological survey reports to Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, April 1 (MONTSAME) The Mongolia-Russia intergovernmental commission on commercial, economic and scientific cooperation has decided to transfer from Russian archives to Mongolia the geological study reports that were conducted in Mongolia in 1960-1990.

A Mining Ministry delegation worked in Russia's Moscow and Saint Petersburg this March 14-20 in connection with this issue. The delegates looked through the archived documents and the list of study reports at the "Rosgeology" archives. The Mongolian-Russian working group on underground wealth met at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation and finalized the conditions of the documents transfer.

The receiver will be the Central Archive of Geology Information at the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia.

Link to article

 

Scholarships to remain as main aspect of Mongolia-Australia cooperation

Ulaanbaatar, March 31 (MONTSAME) The first Resident Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Australia to Mongolia H.E. Mr John Langtry made an official statement this March 30 providing information about Mongolia-Australia ties in long-term development sectors, investment and defense, as well as people-to-people connections.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972, Mongolia and Australia have been maintaining good friendship and collaboration, for 44 years. In 2008, Mongolia opened its Embassy in Canberra, and the Australian Consulate in Ulaanbaatar started operating in 2012.

A new page opened for bilateral ties when Australia opened the Embassy last December in Ulaanbaatar.

Mr Langtry, when asked about the priorities of Australian diplomatic mission in Mongolia, highlighted Australia's strives to promote Mongolia's democratic development, economic prosperity and people-to-people ties. According to him, 10.8 million AUD have been budgeted as aid for Mongolia in 2015-2016 fiscal year, a majority of it will go to scholarships. From 2002 until now, over 400 Mongolians have received postgraduate training and degrees on Australian government scholarships, and about 6,000 Mongolian nationals have received education in Australia.

The Australian Embassy held an official opening ceremony this March 30 at Shangri-La Hotel for "Global Alumni Network Portal". Remarks were given by the Ambassador Mr Langtry, Deputy PM of Mongolia Ts.Oyunbaatar and a president of Mongolia Australia Society (Mozzies) N.Enkhbold MP.

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Bahrain Chamber of Commerce Receives Mongolia's Foreign Minister

March 31 (BCCI) The second vice-chairman of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr. Abdulhameed Al Kooheji, alongside Executive Committee member Mr. Abdulhakeem Al Shemeri, and CEO Engr. Nabeel Al Mahmood have recently received the Mongolian Minister for Foreign Affairs H.E. Lundeg Purevsuren and the delegation accompanying him in Bait Al Tijjar.

The meeting discussed the prospect of the bilateral business relation between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Mongolian People's Republic (Mogi: Mongolia is just "Mongolia" now), and stressed on solidifying bonds and encouraging joint business activities.

In this regard, Mr. Al Kooheji previewed the unique features of the Bahraini economy and the facilities offered to foreign investors, calling the Mongolian private sector to explore and exploit the Bahraini market and forge joint ventures and partnerships with their local counterparts. From his side, Mr. Lundeg Purevsuren expressed keenness in bolstering business ties with friendly countries and called to exchange business delegations in a bid to gain first-hand experience of the special features and facilities each market has to offer. He provided a brief about the Mongolian economy, which depends largely on agriculture and mining, and stressed on the government's keenness on investing in the human capital and diversifying sources of income. He also shed a spot light on the distinctive taxation system of the country and the unconstrained flow of funds from and to Mongolia, while expressing enthusiasm about the business outlook between both friendly countries.

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Health, Education

These children wiped away their tears and dared to dream again because of this choir

March 30 (Star2.com) Visiting Kuala Lumpur, former street children from Mongolia shared their stories on living in squalor, and being rescued and rehabilitated through music and the arts.

The Blue Sky Choir was established in 2004 through a children's home called the Lighthouse Centre – an initiative by World Vision Mongolia. The choir aims to save children living on the streets and prevent a life of abuse and poverty through song.

"These children were abandoned or had run away because they were abused, or had no parents," says Marilee Pierce Dunker, World Vision international ambassador.

Before joining the choir, the children often faced harrowing experiences of neglect, abuse, poverty and suffering.

Street children in Mongolia often have to find shelter in railway buildings, live on the busy streets of Ulan Bator, or spend nights underground, beneath the roads and among heating pipes.

In this Star2.com Exclusive video, a few children from the choir talk about their lives before the choir, and these stories are sometimes difficult to hear.

On a happier side, children who have been rescued by the Blue Sky Choir seemed to regained their identity and found their dreams again.

There are still children on the streets and World Vision hopes to encourage the public to help change that through child sponsorship.

"Because the life of every child is important," says Dunker. "We may not be able to help everyone, but we can help some."

And that is a good start.

Link to article (includes video)

 

Lotus Children's Center Spring Newsletter

April 1 (Lotus Children's Center) Welcome to our first newsletter of the year! Unfortunately, this edition is a little late due to certain circumstances, but the important thing now, is that we are back up and running. So let's have a look back at what has been happening over the last few months and, also, what is in store for the future.

NEWS

OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP

Donors needed

Recently, we lost one of our major donors. Now we rely solely on our regular donation from the Al Fayed Foundation to meet our monthly running costs. Other donations are irregular and so, we are on the look out for a new regular donor to ease our financial constraints. If your organisation, or you know of another organisation that is searching for a very worthy cause to contribute to, please get in contact with our director, Didi Ananda Kalika on +976 99132100, or contact us at info@lotuschild.org.

Rice 

Rice is part of the staple diet here in Mongolia, but is a food that is of great expense to us. We spend up to 700,000 MNT ($350 US) per month, but it is a necessary ingredient for many of our meals. So, we are looking for someone that may be able to help subsidise all or part of the cost of this, which would go a long way in easing our general running costs at Lotus. If you would be interested in contributing, please contact us atinfo@lotuschild.org for more information.

Sponsorship

We are looking to gain more sponsors for the children in order to allow them to communicate with people outside of Mongolia. If you're interested in sponsoring a child, please contact us at info@lotuschild.org for more information.

Lotus Cafe

This summer will see the return of a new Lotus Cafe.

We are looking to reopen our cafe in the centre of Ulaanbaatar, which will support Lotus in two ways. Firstly, and primarily, it will provide employment for three young adults in our care that have special needs.

This gives them an opportunity to gain employment, as it can often be difficult for those with learning difficulties to find job opportunities in Mongolia. Secondly, profits from the cafe will support The Lotus Children's Centre financially. To have a look at more projects we are planning, please visit our website www.lotuschild.org.

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Culture, Society

Photo Essay: The Eagle Hunters of Mongolia

For centuries, Mongolia's semi-nomadic tribes have joined forces with semi-domesticated eagles to hunt small prey. But how much longer can this ancient food tradition survive?

By James Rodewald. Photographs by Cedric Angeles and Brown W. Cannon III

March 31, 2016 (Modern Farmer) Humans have enlisted animals in the search for sustenance since the first mellow wolves stumbled upon our settlements thousands of years ago, then decided to stick around. And while some of these working relationships endure—horses still plow fields, pigs sniff out truffles, shepherds and pointers and hounds aid with herding or hunting—we now tend to prefer our pork on a plate and our pets on a leash. But in the rugged Altai Mountains of far-western Mongolia, a bond between man and bird defies total domestication. Amid this harsh, craggy landscape, hunters rely on golden eagles to find and kill rabbits, foxes, and other small game.

The hunters trap female eagles (whose eight-foot wingspans make them far more effective partners than the smaller males) before they reach breeding age, and build a rapport by rewarding requested tasks with food. Once a bird's hunting career comes to an end—after a few years or a decade, depending on the raptor's skill—she's released back into the wild to find a mate and live out the rest of her days.

Even in this remote backcountry, however, the intimate interspecies partnership faces extinction due to increasing modernization. The Golden Eagle Festival, held in the city of Ulgii for the past 16 years, attempts to preserve Mongolia's dying falconry traditions through a series of hunting competitions. Last fall, photographers Cedric Angeles and Brown W. Cannon III accompanied a group of Kazakhs as they traveled to Ulgii on horseback for the event, sleeping in yurts (called gers) along the 120-mile journey. "The connection the men have with the eagles is as significant as their relationships with people," Cannon says. "Their worlds revolve around these birds."

Link to photo essay

 

World view: Camel lot in the Gobi desert, Mongolia

Riders line up for the start of the world's biggest camel race – which can draw up to 1,000 participants

March 31 (The Guardian) Part of the two-day Temeenii bayar festival, held in Dalanzadgad earlier this month, the shaggy-haired bactrian camels are raced over 15km laden with everything needed to build and live in a traditional Mongolian tent. The race draws 1,000 participants and many families trek 540km from the capital Ulan Bator to watch the main event and take part in the festival, which celebrates nomadic life with traditional costumes, camel polo and even a camel beauty pageant.

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Nature, Environment

Mongolia to cut emissions from persistent organic pollutants

April 1 (UB Post) Mongolia will implement a project on introducing environmentally-friendly technology and experience to mitigate open burning of waste in relation to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Unuudur spoke with the project manager, B.Delgerbayar, about the project details.

Four countries were involved in this project aside from Mongolia. How long will the project be carried out for?

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) are going to implement this project in Mongolia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines through 2020. The main objective of the project is to mitigate the volume of POPs, such as dioxins and furans, that are emitted when wastes are open burnt by 93 percent.

How much financing is required and what measures will be taken under the project? 

The GEF is investing a total of 7.56 million USD for the project. Approximately 1.5 million USD will be spent in each country. The Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism and Mayor's Office of Ulaanbaatar will implement the project in Mongolia. They will also implement subprojects on improving the Law on Waste Management to strengthen the skills of personnel of relevant organizations, introduce environmentally-friendly technology for decreasing open burning of waste, and increase the public's knowledge on impacts of POPs caused by open burning.

What are the influences of POPs on human health and animals? What kind of diseases may result from POPs?

The main goal of the Stockholm Convention on POPs is to protect human health and the environment. POPs include 26 substances such as chlordane, dieldrin and polychlorinated biphenyls. POPs are widely distributed through the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and, most notably, air. They accumulate in the fatty tissues of living organisms including humans, and are found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain. They are toxic to both humans and wildlife.

They have negative impacts on endocrine, immunity, nerves, reproductive system, and may cause skin diseases, diabetes and cancer. POPs also affect fetus development and poison infants through breast milk.

How much is the volume of dioxins and furans in Mongolia compared to other countries? 

Because Mongolia's territory is big, and the country has a low population density and industry is not developed well, emission of dioxins and furans are relatively low compared to other countries. However, emission of dioxins and furans from centralized waste fields are high. The volume of dioxins and furans emitted from the Moringiin Davaa centralized waste field per year is 10 times higher than Cambodia's.

What causes the emission of dioxins and furans? 

Dioxins and furans aren't only emitted when burning wastes. They are also emitted when burning wood and coal in a furnace, cremation, burning of carcasses, and when fire breaks out in forests. Around 50 percent of dioxins and furans emission in Mongolia is caused by open burning of wastes. The main reason is that a great amount of waste are openly burned in centralized waste fields and in illegal waste fields.

How many waste fields are there in Mongolia? 

There are six centralized landfills in Ulaanbaatar, and 357 waste fields in provinces. However, studies show that there are around 2,445 unauthorized small waste fields throughout the country. Even though a general cleaning is conducted at unauthorized waste fields and around 70 percent of the waste is transported every spring and fall, people dump their wastes again. Around 1.8 million tons of wastes are generated at waste fields annually. This is an issue that needs to be tackled in Mongolia.

You said that subprojects will be carried out to decrease open burning of wastes. Can you tell us more about them? 

We are planning to implement two projects. We will collect metal and plastic containers of oils and chemical substances from mining companies and industries to clean and make them safe. Afterwards, we will distribute metal containers for ash and plastic containers for other wastes to families in ger districts. If people separate hot ash from other wastes, it will create possibilities for not burning wastes openly. Ash waste can also be reused. The second subproject will clean metal and plastic containers of chemical substances at Tsagaan Davaa landfill, establish a decontamination facility and landfill for ash waste. This measure will be taken based on the Eco Park establishment initiated by the Mayor's Office of Ulaanbaatar.

You are also going to implement a program to train targeted groups. 

Yes, we are going to update teaching programs of general education schools and universities and include courses on POP risks, its impacts to human health and wildlife, prevention solutions, and possible methods for mitigating their pollution. We discussed a program for universities at a regional level and decided to make an integrated model.

Even though there aren't any engineered landfills in Mongolia, there are landfills in Ulaanbaatar, but what about provinces? 

In order to reach from one soum to another, we need to drive 30 to 50 km, so every soum has to have a centralized waste field. We need to establish a monitored landfill in these waste fields.

Monitored means that it has fencing so that wastes are not spread during storms, and with possibilities for registering waste and burying them with proper technology. We do believe that this is the most reasonable and environmentally-friendly method. Dioxins and furans will not be emitted if waste is not thrown away in an open area.

How will you register waste?

In order to improve waste management, we need to know the norm and structures of wastes from provinces, soums and districts. Last year, the government approved the methodology for determining waste norm. Last year, the ministry organized a project for determining the waste norm of families in provinces and soums. Determining waste norms of an individual, household, or organization becomes a base for collecting service fees, planning waste management, and calculating expenditure. For instance, an Ulaanbaatar resident throws away 800 grams of waste in winter and 600 grams of waste in summer per day.

Source: Unuudur

Link to interview

 

Mongolia: Harsh Winter Wiping Out Livestock, Stoking Economic Crisis for Nomads

April 1 (EurasiaNet) When Dogoono's only horse died early in the winter, she cried for days. But now the Mongolian herder keeps losing so many of her animals she does not have any tears left.

"I think how long can I cry for them? I have to be strong," she said.

The 72-year-old lives in Undurkhangai district, Uvs Province in western Mongolia. Her family is one of an estimated 70,000 herder households – totaling roughly 400,000 people, or about one-seventh of Mongolia's overall population – that have lost a significant portion of their livestock to a slow moving disaster called a dzud, a draught followed by a harsh winter, a natural phenomenon unique to the Mongolian Steppe.

Years of chronic overgrazing coupled with a severe draught last summer left the sheep, goats, cows, horses and camels who live on the steppe weak and unable to gain weight and survive the harsh winter amid temperatures that have regularly dropped to 40 below zero. Dzuds usually occur in a five-year cycle

"I worry that when people hear herders' goats and sheep are dying they think of them like cats and dogs. Nice animals to own, but not essential, said Naomi Kitahara, the United Nations Population Fund's representative in Mongolia. "To a [Mongolian] herder, losing their animals is like having your house swept away by a tsunami – they have nothing left."

Since January, Dogoono has lost 210 of her 230 sheep, goats and cows. She said: "We are trying everything we can think of to keep the animals alive. We have brought them more hay and fodder, we have made one of our gers [felt tents] into a shelter to give them more warmth, but they just keep dying. It is tearing us apart."

Just a short distance from the ger is a pile of around 100 animal carcasses, frozen stiff from the cold. Two chestnut goats are eating the stomach of another.

Uvs Province, situated over 1,000 kilometers from the country's capital, Ulaanbaatar, is among the areas hardest hit by this winter's dzud. Although the weather is starting to warm, early spring is the hardest time for animals, when they are weakest, but with no grass to graze on. The UN reported that from January to March the number of livestock deaths across the country jumped from 40,000 to 360,000 due to heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures. The overall toll is projected to climb to 1.2 million over the coming weeks. A dzud in 2010 claimed an estimated 3.3 million livestock.

In February, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an appeal to help 7,000 of the most vulnerable herder households. They have been delivering food aid and cash grants to those struggling the most. UNICEF, the United Nations, Save the Children and People In Need are also working to help herders. The United Nations Population Fund is handing out dignity kits to women.

Climate change is widely believed to be playing its part in the disaster. Temperatures this winter have remained below minus 40 for a prolonged period, placing too much stress on underweight animals. There has also been no rain since July last year so it was difficult to find grazing land for animals, or to prepare hay for winter.

Herders rely on their animals for meat and milk; they also sell their skins and burn their dung for heating. Thus, heavy losses amid dzuds can push nomadic herders into poverty: they have no other skills, yet often feel compelled to abandon the steppe and move to the capital to try to earn money, said Dr Davaajargal Baasaansuren, Head of the Disaster Management Program at the Mongolian Red Cross Society.

"For many, it is impossible to find a job when they come to the urban centers. They are forced to squat in the worst slums where there is no infrastructure," he said.

On the steppe, a two-hour drive from the Undurkhangai provincial centre, Bayankhand Myagmar cries as she stands by a pile of dead sheep and goats. The 50-year-old has lost 451 animals from a herd of 700.

Outside her ger a handful of sheep, too weak to stand, are spasming on the dusty ground as they take their last breaths. Horses and cows wander around trying to find something to eat. The weakest wear handmade blankets made of clothes and household fabrics.

Bayankhand has been a herder since 1990 and this is the most severe dzud she has experienced. Wiping tears from her eyes she says: "We are trying so hard to keep them alive but nothing is working. They are our priority – we put them before ourselves, they are even living in our home."

To buy hay and animal fodder she has sold her car, which the family used to transport weaker animals to better pastures. She also says she is now in debt with local markets after trying to buy more hay.

"If there are no animals, then there will be no joy," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Watching the animals die is breaking us mentally and I am so scared. What will I do if I lose them all?"

Link to article

 

Dr. N.Soninkhishig reveals fascinating facts about rivers and lakes and the organisms that inhabit them

April 1 (UB Post) Dr. N.Soninkhishig, associate professor at the Biology Faculty of the National University of Mongolia, spoke extensively about water pollution and algae, particularly diatoms, in the following interview.

Diatoms are a large group of microscopic algae with distinctive and transparent cell walls made of silicon dioxide hydrated by a small amount of water. They usually grow as single cells and can be used as indicators of both present and past water quality because they are responsive to changes in water chemistry.

Dr. N.Soninkhishig is well known for her expertise in diatoms researchers in the same field. Over 20 of her publications have been published in international journals, and her study on diatoms in Mongolia was published as the 20th volume of "Iconographia Diatomologica", a famous series of books on global diatom studies. N.Soninkhishig has been contributing to national research projects for water resource management in recent years. 

When did you start researching diatoms? What was your first academic work?

I started studying diatoms in 1995. At that time, Dr. Clyde E. Goulden came to Mongolia from the Academy of Natural Sciences Drexel University of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and trained 23 researchers for the Khuvsgul Lake Project. I was one of them.

He recommended me to study diatoms because I had just graduated and didn't have an area of study.
In 1996, I went to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and learned the basics of diatoms under Dr. Ruth Patrick. Rivers kept becoming contaminated in the USA after the World War II. Dr. Ruth Patrick became famous for her research on diatoms in different rivers, which found the cause and origin of the unknown water pollution. I think she was around 86 years old when I first met her. After four months, I was able to recognize diatom species, take samples, and study them through microscopes.

My first academic work was my master's thesis. I took diatom samples from eight areas along Tuul River, starting from the bridge of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park to Altanbulag soum, and evaluated changes in water quality.

There are many types of algae in Mongolia. How are diatoms different from them?

Diatoms are unicellular orgasms that collect energy from the sun through photosynthesis and are merely a few micrometers in size. Photosynthesis provides a living condition for humans, animals and other living organisms.

There are many types of algae. Diatoms are distinct from them with its even-sided geometric shape, with cell walls made of biogenic opaline silica, and essentially for biologically produced glass. The cell wall has countless holes because it would be impossible for an organism to live in a sealed glass. Its holes are well-organized and forms a unique pattern. The pattern of the cell wall is stored in genes and passed down, enabling differentiation and classification of diatom species.

The slimy and soft thing you feel when you step on rocks in rivers is actually a bunch of diatoms. You have to scrape off that and look at it through a microscope to study them.

Diatoms are used to detect water pollution. Are they that special?

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Sports

Mongolian stuns Commonwealth Games silver medallist to secure Rio 2016 boxing spot

April 1 (Inside the Games) Mongolia's Gan-Erdene Gankhuyag stunned India's Commonwealth Games silver medallist Devendro Singh Laishram to secure qualification for Rio 2016 at the AIBA Asian/Oceanian Olympic Qualification Event in Qian'an in China.

The light flyweight progressed to this summer's Olympics in the Brazilian city with a unanimous victory over the Indian fighter, a silver medallist at Glasgow 2014, in the box-off for the third and final Olympic place in the category.

Both competitors had suffered defeat in yesterday's semi-finals but the contest offered them the chance to end the event on a positive note and it was Gankhuya who held his nerve to seal his place.

Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan claimed the gold medal in the category by overcoming Rogen Ladon of the Philippines via split decision.

The third available Olympic spot in the middleweight category went to Australia's Daniel Lewis, the 22-year-old breezing to a confident triumph in his bout with Mongolian Shinebayar Narmandakh.

Top welterweight seed Eumir Felix Marcial was another Filipino boxer to miss out on claiming an Olympic place as he lost to Tuvshinbat Byamba, with the Mongolian awarded the fight 29-28 on the three scorecards.

Link to article

 

Mongolian boy becomes Asian Taekwondo champion

April 1 (gogo.mn) Last month, Asian Taekwondo championship tournament took place between March 26-30 in Almaty, Kazakhstan and Mongolian boy became champion.

Kh. Erkhanet who competed in 63kg division won the final match against host country's athlete and gloriously heard Mongolian national anthem. The tournament was held for the 8th time.

He has been practising taekwondo for 11 years and achieved the rank of submaster of sports, as well as a member of the national team. His other achievements include winning the National Taekwondo Championship 4 times, National Boxing and Kickboxing championships.

Link to article

 

Cyclist T.Enkhjargal wins bronze medal in Europe

Ulaanbaatar, March 31 (MONTSAME) An Asian cycling champion T.Enkhjargal IMS captured a bronze medal in the first race of Olympic qualification series in Europe on March 26.

In the first race, gold and silver medals went to French and Swiss cyclists, respectively.

With a support from the International Cycling Association (UCI) and the National Olympic Committee of Mongolia (MonNOC), Enkhjargal is competing in the series of races which are running in European countries until June 1. The next race will take place April 2 in Switzerland, and cyclists who collect the most points during the series will be qualified to compete in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.

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Art, Entertainment

Susan Fox Displays Her Stunning Works of Wildlife in Mongolia

Wild Life Art at Flinn Gallery Soars with Artists Sharing Field-to-Studio Works

April 2 (Greenwich Free Press) This is quite an impressive show at the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich as seven artists share their renderings and sketches in the field, and what later is finished in their studios.

The artists, Susan Fox, Alison Nicholls, Kelly Singleton, Carel Brest van Kempen, Karryl, David Rankin and Sean Murtha each created "field boxes" to be viewed and illustrate their work studying animals in their natural habitat.

The works show the way direct observation and sketching are vital to their creative process in the studio.

Susan called the Mongolian Mission to the United Nations, and was enthralled they came to help celebrate her hanging of these impressive works. " I go to Mongolia every year," she said. "Next month will be my 11th trip."

This is a must-see show, and all works, large and small, are for sale. Visitors have the opportunity to view the artist's process and products while expanding their understanding of creative endeavors.

Wild Life Art: Field to Studio is on view at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, and runs through May 4.

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