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Monday, November 28, 2016

[BREAKING: APIP announces December IPO on London's AIM]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Monday, November 28, 2016

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Specialist Mongolian developer Asia Pacific Investment Partners to launch December IPO in London

Hong-based real estate firm, APIP, plans full listing of its share capital on London’s alternative investment market

November 28 (South China Morning Post) Asia Pacific Investment Partners (APIP), the Hong Kong-based real estate developer, is to launch a full initial public offering in London next month, on the SME-dominated alternative investment market (AIM).

The company, which invests and develops properties primarily in Mongolia, has applied to list its entire share capital to trade on AIM, which allows smaller firms more flexibility than London’s main stock market.

APIP plans to use the funds raised, on further expansion of its real estate portfolio, including Mongolia’s middle-income residential market and providing mortgage loans to individuals and businesses in Mongolia, according to Lee Cashell, its chief executive officer, for which it has a licence.

Further down the line there could also be expansion into Myanmar and other emerging markets.

“We have spent the last 15 years in the Mongolian market,” Cashell said. “We believe the group is now well positioned to capitalise on the strong growth opportunities in the Mongolian economy.”

APIP’s revenue rose in the first half of the year to US$1.36 million compared with US$1.02 million in the same period last year.

The company has developed around 53,000 square metres of real estate across five developments in the country’s capital Ulaanbaatar, and holds eight plots of land on which it believes it can build a further 450,000 square metres.

Its real state assets in Mongolia were estimated to be worth US$312.8 million, according to DTZ Cushman & Wakefield.

APIP said it has “strong growth underpinned by current and near-term projects, future planned projects and development and growth of prime land bank at attract cost”.

“Cashell first indicated back in October 2012 he planned to float the company in Hong Kong by early 2014, but did not clarify why they ultimately decided to list in London.

Hong Kong still leads the world’s IPO market, but unlike London Stock Exchange it operates under the principle of “one share, one vote”, which prevents companies with a dual-class structure from floating their shares.

Hong Kong represented 22 per cent of worldwide listing funds in the first nine months of the year with 40 issuers, according to Thomson Reuters data. London accounted for 3.6 per cent with nine IPO issuers.

Link to article

 

Mongolian Property Firm Sets Sights on Myanmar and Beyond in Frontier IPO

November 28 (Frontera News) Fifteen years after starting a real estate business in Ulaanbaatar, American Lee Cashell is looking to take his company global.

From humble beginnings in 2001, Asia Pacific Investment Partners has grown into Mongolia’s largest integrated property company, combining development with estate agency, market research, construction and cement manufacturing. Now, Cashell, who runs APIP with his Mongolian wife, Tsendsuren Bordukh, is turning the group into an international concern by selling shares on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM board.

APIP has identified a pipeline of potential property investments in Myanmar, and has begun incorporating a domestic real estate agency business in the commercial capital, Yangon, the company said in a regulatory statement on Nov. 28. APIP plans a “cautious, research driven, agency-led expansion,” making use of local contacts, due diligence and fundamental analysis.

“We have spent the last 15 years in the Mongolian market building what we believe is the country’s only vertically integrated property development company,” Cashell, the CEO and Chairman, said in the statement. “Our research driven model provides us the insights necessary to take advantage of future opportunities in frontier markets.”

APIP reported an operating profit of $11.3 million for 2015 and net assets of $50.5 million as of June 30. The group’s Mongolian property investments include eight land bank lots; these are worth a combined $312.8 million, according to DTZ Cushman & Wakefield calculations that are based the market value and comparisons with finished properties as of Sept. 30. The IPO will provide additional funding for real estate and other businesses, according to the statement. Cashell declined to comment beyond the statement.

From tents

The company plans to expand research coverage from Mongolia and Myanmar to 15 emerging and frontier markets through its new Propeterra unit to help drive sales and related advisory services.

With last year’s commodity price declines weighing on Mongolia’s economy, APIP says it’s positioning to benefit from anticipated recovery. Demand for modern apartments will be driven by urbanization and a growing number of expats moving in as investment increases in road, rail and mining projects like the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, according to the statement. Around 60% of the country’s 3 million inhabitants were still living in traditional “ger” tents at the time of the most recent study in 2010.

What’s the Deal?

Luxury pads

Along with leadership in luxury real estate in Mongolia, APIP plans to expand into the growing middle-income sector. An example is a mixed-use development called Park Place, in Ulaanbaatar’s central business district. Estimated for completion in 2020, Park Place will feature luxury condominiums, a high-end 8,000 square-meter retail mall, and a 125-room luxury hotel. APIP is also in the process of obtaining final permissions to start work on Circus Residence and Oasis Residence, middle-income apartment projects also located within the CBD.

Malls

A shortage of modern shopping malls in Ulaanbaatar has driven up retail space occupancy rates to 97% from 85% five years ago. While average occupancy within the CBD dropped to an historic trough of 67.5% in August, the rate had been dragged down by the opening a month earlier of the Shangri-La mall, which only achieved about 30% occupancy at launch. Other malls in the district have maintained 98-100% occupancy, according to APIP’s statement, while average retail rents have risen 7.3% in the past five years.

Distress

The group says it expects continued opportunities to buy partially finished developments from smaller, often first-time, developers who are unable to complete their projects, and from local banks sitting on non-performing loans linked to real estate.

Introducing: The Mortgage

The residential mortgage market in Mongolia is in very early stages and its development has the potential to boost affordability. The group plans to use part of the IPO proceeds to introduce mortgage financing products to buyers of the group’s residential units.

Link to article

 

APIP press release:

Asia Pacific Investment Partners Ltd. Announces Intention to Float on AIM

November 28 -- Asia Pacific Investment Partners Limited (the "Company", together with its subsidiaries "APIP" or the "Group"), the research-driven emerging and frontier markets real estate development business, today announces its intention to apply for the admission of its entire issued and to be issued share capital to trading on AIM ("Admission"), a market operated by London Stock Exchange plc, and to conduct a placing of new shares with institutional and professional investors (the "Placing"). Dealings in the Company's shares on AIM are expected to commence in December 2016.  

Key Highlights 

A leading developer of Mongolian property with an established track record for quality and innovation

·         Has evolved into a leading vertically integrated developer of Mongolian property over the last 15 years by focusing on two key pillars - introducing new, innovative concepts to the Mongolian residential and mixed use/commercial/retail property market, and delivering projects with high quality external and internal design, construction and finishing

·         The Directors believe that the Group has established a reputation for delivering high quality projects built to meet the expectations of international tenants and wealthy domestic buyers

·         Innovative and high quality developments allowing the Group to build a strong brand in Mongolia

Vertically integrated model providing competitive advantage

·         The Directors believe that the Group is the only vertically integrated property developer in Mongolia, comprising real estate development, real estate agency, market research, construction services and cement manufacturing

·         The Directors believe that the Group's capabilities allow it to maximise value across the real estate value chain, encompassing activities such as asset origination, real estate project design and development, construction, raw material transportation, property sales, leasing and on-going property management

Differentiated marketing capabilities with international reach

·         The Directors believe that the Group is one of a few Mongolian real estate developers able to effectively access both international and domestic buyers

·         The Group actively uses multiple marketing channels, including websites, social media, electronic data mailings, sales agents and sub-agents, and attendance at industry conferences, as well as hosting seminars and property launch events in various locations around the world

·         The Group's international sales to buyers in multiple countries are supported by sales offices in Hong Kong, London and Singapore that enhance the Group's international reach and create a strong network in those markets where the Directors believe the Group can sell its properties

Strong growth underpinned by current and near term projects, future planned projects and development and growth of prime land bank at attractive cost

·         The Group has capitalised on the rapid economic growth experienced by Mongolia during most of the period in which the Group has operated to become one of the leading developers in that marketplace

·         Since its inception in 2001, the Group has completed the development of approximately 53,000 sqm in gross floor area ("GFA") of real estate across five developments in Ulaanbaatar

·         The Group currently has approximately 38,000 sqm in GFA (comprising approximately 33,000 sqm in gross saleable area ("GSA")) under construction on one site, the Olympic Residence. In addition, the Directors believe that the Group holds through land-use or land-possession rights, acquired over a number of years, a substantial land bank of eight lots in prime locations in and around Ulaanbaatar on which the Directors believe 450,000 sqm in GFA can be constructed. The Group currently has valid land-use or land-possession certificates in respect of six lots accounting for 341,050 sqm in GFA of the estimated buildable GFA. The Group's land-rights in respect of two lots that collectively account for 108,950 sqm of the estimated buildable GFA have expired and are in the process of being renewed. The Group has submitted applications to the relevant authority to update the expiration date of these land-possession certificates and the Directors expect these certificates to be updated with extended expiration dates in the ordinary course.

Experienced management with in-depth local knowledge

·         The Group's senior management team has an established development planning, execution and growth track record combined with in-depth local knowledge and experience

·         Lee Cashell, co-founder, Chairman and CEO, has been based in Mongolia for 15 years and has over 22 years of experience in the real estate, investment management and private equity industries and is married to Ms. Bordukh

·         Tsendsuren Bordukh, co-founder and President, is a Mongolian national and has more than 15 years of experience in real estate in Mongolia and was formerly a representative of the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Beijing

·         Andrew McGregor, CFO, has been based in Mongolia since 2014 and has 13 years of experience in the real estate, investment banking and private equity industries

Strong corporate governance and internal controls

·         5 of the Company's 7 directors are independent non-executives and are involved in strategic and high level operational decisions

·         The Directors believe that the Company's culture of strong corporate governance and established appropriate internal controls, including internal audit and legal counsel functions, is amongst the strongest found in companies operating in Mongolia and provides the Group with the ability to make timely strategic decisions, effectively control costs and maintain efficient operations 

Hannam & Partners (Advisory) LLP ("Hannam") is acting as Financial Adviser to the Company, with CLSA Singapore PTE LTD ("CLSA") and Exotix Partners LLP ("Exotix") as Joint Global Co-ordinators and Joint Bookrunners and Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited ("Panmure Gordon") as its Nominated Adviser and Broker. 

Lee Cashell, Chief Executive Officer of APIP, commented: 

"We have spent the last 15 years in the Mongolian market building what we believe is the country's only vertically integrated property development company, and we believe the Group is now well positioned to capitalise on the strong growth opportunities of the Mongolian economy. Our research driven model provides us the insights necessary to take advantage of future opportunities in frontier markets. This IPO will allow us to accelerate the Company's growth momentum by providing additional funding for our real estate and other businesses."

Link to release

 

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Friday, October 21, 2016

[AKM sees Nuurstei potential; MNT sets a few more lows; and wheat harvest triples]

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Friday, October 21, 2016

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

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Int'l Market

AKM closed flat Thursday at A$0.04

Aspire Mining sees potential for economic open pit coking coal mine

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

October 21 (Proactive Investors) Aspire Mining Ltd (ASX:AKM) has completed preliminary pit optimisation work that indicates a large proportion of the current Nuurstei Coking Coal deposit could report to an economic open pit.

Aspire has a 45% ownership in Nuurstei located in Mongolia through its 50/50 Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture (ECJV) with Noble Group (SGX:N21), which currently has a 90% interest in Nuurstei.

Planning is underway to complete additional drilling to convert deposit tonnes from the Inferred to Indicated categories and to test deposit extensions.

The process is underway to convert exploration license to a mining license.

Background

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

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

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

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

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

Aspire has an option expiring in March 2017 to increase its beneficial ownership in the Nuurstei project from 45% to 90% for US$1 million and a royalty.

Northern Rail Corridor

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

Aspire recently commenced the first stage of the rail feasibility study to extend Mongolia's national rail network from the city of Erdenet to its flagship Ovoot Coking Coal Project in Mongolia.

The 547 kilometre extension has recently been included in a new Northern Rail Economic Corridor connecting China and Russia through Mongolia as part of China's One Belt One Road Policy.

Northern Railways has formed a consortium with two subsidiaries of China Railways Corporation to progress the development of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway – China Railways 20 Bureau Group Corporation (CR20G) and China Railway First Design Survey and Design Institute (FSDI).

CR20G is the nominated engineering, procurement and construction contractor and FSDI has been contracted to undertake the bankable feasibility study.

FSDI has commenced the first stage of a bankable feasibility study, which is due for completion by 31 December 2016.

Analysis

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

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

It could also provide commercial scale rail freight cargo's onto the Northern Rail Line to iron out logistical teething problems before the much larger volumes from the Ovoot Coking Coal Project need to be dealt with.

Subject to the completion of a feasibility study, the Erdenet to Ovoot railway may receive priority funding from China's Policy Banks, Sinosure, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and funds such as the Silk Road Fund.

The stock is up 400% or 5x year to date trading at $0.04.

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

Link to article

Link to AKM release

 

TRQ closed +0.33% Thursday to US$3.03

Oyu Tolgoi sets all-time high for quarterly mined material in Q3

JOHANNESBURG, October 20 (miningweekly.com) – Rio Tinto subsidiary Turquoise Hill Resources' Oyu Tolgoi mine, in Mongolia, set an all-time high of 25-million tonnes of quarterly mined material in the third quarter of 2016, including stripping for Phase 4 of the project, which is the next area of high-grade ore.

CEO Jeff Tygesen said the project performed as expected during the quarter, as openpit operations focused on phases 3 and 6, after the high-gold Phase 2 was nearly complete in the second quarter.

In the quarter under review, Oyu Tolgoi's concentrator throughput declined by 4% quarter-on-quarter owing to planned maintenance and conveyor belt repairs.

Copper production in the third quarter declined 9.9% quarter-on-quarter, owing to lower recovery from Phase 6 ore. As expected, gold production in the quarter declined 47.1% from the second quarter owing to lower grades from the completion of mining Phase 2.

Tygeson noted, however, that despite the lower copper and gold production in the quarter, Turquoise Hill was confident in its ability to achieve the higher end of its yearly guidance.

The Canadian company expects Oyu Tolgoi to produce between 175 000 t and 195 000 t of copper in concentrates and 255 000 oz to 285 000 oz of gold in concentrates in 2016.

UNDERGROUND DEVELOPMENT

Turquoise Hill said that underground development at Oyu Tolgoi was progressing well. During the third quarter, work began for Shaft 5 sinking and the convey-to-surface box cut excavation, while construction of critical on-site facilities continued.

The company further noted that Oyu Tolgoi had recently signed an additional underground mining and support services contract with Dayan Contract Mining, a joint venture between Hasu Megawatt and Redpath, for the sinking of Shafts 2 and 5.

At the end of the third quarter, the underground workforce comprised about 1 600 people and was expected to reach a staff complement of 2 400 people by the end of 2016.

Meanwhile, citing recent press speculation that the ramp-up period needed for the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine to reach full production would be seven to nine years, Turquoise Hill clarified that ramp up to full production was expected to take about seven years, according to a 2014 technical report.

Link to article

 

CG closed +1.52% Thursday to C$6.70

Done deal: Centerra Gold buys Thompson Creek for $1.1 billion

October 20 (MINING.com) Canada's Centerra Gold (TSX:CG) said Thursday it has completed an agreement to buy US-based Thompson Creek Metals (TSX:TCM) in a US$1.1 billion deal that adds a new large asset to Centerra's growing portfolio.

By acquiring Thompson Creek, a move first announced in July, the Toronto-based miner gets its hands on Mount Milligan, a mine in British Columbia with reserves estimated in 5.7 million ounces of gold rand 2.2 billion pounds of copper.

Through the deal, Centerra also reduces its reliance on Kumtor mine in Kyrgyzstan for cash flow, as the associated risks to such operation have proved a drag on the company's market valuation.

Thompson Creek, meanwhile, gets a lifeline as the Denver-based miner had accumulated a debt of more than $800 million, coming due between 2017 and 2019 and it didn't seem able to cover it up on its own.

"The acquisition establishes an operating base in Canada – one of the lowest risk mining jurisdictions in the world – which will complement our Canadian-based Greenstone project and provide for further flexibility to expand into the Americas," Scott Perry, CEO of Centerra,said in the statement.

Perry noted the deal also adds to the company's existing project pipeline, which includes Öksüt in Turkey, Gatsuurt in Mongolia, and Greenstone in Canada.

The agreement includes a revision of a metal streaming agreement between Thompson Creek Metals and Royal Gold (TSX:RGL) which partly helped to finance Mount Milligan after Thompson Creek bought the property in 2010. Royal Gold's streaming interest on the mine's gold output will be reduced to 35% from 52.25%, in exchange for the rights to 18.75% of the mine's copper production.

The company said Centerra Thompson Creek common will be delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange, removed from the OTCQX and deregistered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Investors reacted positively to the news and Centerra stock climbed more than 5% in early trading in Toronto to Cdn$6.79.

Link to article

Link to CG release

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 +0.59%, ALL +0.38%, Turnover 8.7 Million Shares, 546.1 Million T-Bills

October 20 (MSE) --

Link to report

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Economy

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

BoM MNT Rates: Thursday, October 20 Close

10/20

10/18

10/17

10/14

10/13

10/12

10/11

10/10

10/7

10/6

High

Date

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USD

2,326.58

2,319.29

2,306.59

2,290.92

2,286.28

2,272.75

2,271.98

2,269.97

2,273.59

2,275.79

2,326.58

20 Oct '16

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EUR

2,553.54

2,554.70

2,531.83

2,522.76

2,517.54

2,512.75

2,524.74

2,537.60

2,526.53

2,548.20

2,571.70

3 Oct '16

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JPY

22.43

22.31

22.15

21.98

22.01

21.95

21.86

22.00

21.90

21.95

22.68

18 Aug '16

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GBP

2,857.62

2,840.55

2,805.74

2,792.75

2,782.52

2,796.73

2,793.63

2,816.58

2,832.55

2,892.98

3,183.26

13 Aug '14

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RUB

37.28

36.86

36.49

36.36

36.12

36.31

36.54

36.40

36.44

36.47

54.32

27 Jun '14

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CNY

345.21

344.15

342.27

340.67

339.91

338.46

338.37

338.72

340.79

341.12

345.21

20 Oct '16

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KRW

2.06

2.06

2.02

2.02

2.01

2.02

2.03

2.05

2.04

2.05

2.08

29 Sep '16

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SGD

1,675.91

1,672.71

1,658.52

1,651.95

1,649.67

1,646.20

1,647.26

1,652.09

1,653.46

1,659.83

1,689.56

18 Aug '16

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CAD

1,767.92

1,773.84

1,750.07

1,736.14

1,720.11

1,719.96

1,721.07

1,710.60

1,715.27

1,723.76

1,773.84

18 Oct '16

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AUD

1,782.51

1,781.56

1,750.59

1,740.76

1,719.17

1,723.31

1,716.59

1,722.79

1,720.99

1,725.62

1,782.51

20 Oct '16

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HKD

299.89

298.93

297.29

295.29

294.67

292.95

292.80

292.60

293.04

293.40

299.89

20 Oct '16

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CHF

2,352.93

2,346.75

2,330.24

2,316.99

2,312.88

2,299.77

2,306.23

2,318.31

2,314.44

2,330.80

2,369.87

19 Aug '16

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,319 Sell ₮2,332), TDB (Buy ₮2,318 Sell ₮2,332), Golomt (Buy ₮2,319 Sell ₮2,332), XacBank (Buy ₮2,325 Sell ₮2,339), State Bank (Buy ₮2,320 Sell ₮2,334)

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

Link to rates

 

BoM declines US$24.3m bids, sells CNY40m at 345.06, accepts $17.1m MNT swap offers

October 20 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid MNT 2328.00-2340.30 for USD24.3 million and MNT 342.50-346.51 for CNY63.0 million respectively. The BoM bought CNY 40.0 million with closing rate of MNT 345.06.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM received bid offers of USD17.1 million of MNT swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM did not accept any bid offers.

Link to release

 

IPI rises against last year

Ulaanbaatar, October 20 (MONTSAME) The industrial production index (seasonally adjusted) stood at 137.4 (2010=100) in September, indicating increase of 2.4 percent compared to the same period of the previous year and 5.0 percent compared to the end of 2015.

However, it decreased by 7.5 percent compared to the previous month. This drop was entailed by decrease of 7.6 percent in production index of mining and quarrying sectors.

The output in construction and capital repair works reached MNT 1153.4 billion for the first 9 months of 2016, of which MNT 1131.9 billion (98.1%) were performed by local construction entities while MNT 21.5 billion (1.9%) – by foreign entities. The output fell down by MNT 348.6 billion (23.2%) from that of the same period of 2015. This decrease reflected the drop of MNT 329.9 billion (22.6%) in the output by domestic construction entities.

Link to article

 

METALS-London copper drifts as China douses property sector

* China sets down new regulations to cool housing market

* China copper premiums rise to $65-$70 from $60 last wk -Triland

* Coming up: US existing home sales at 1400 GMT (Adds comment, detail; updates prices)

MELBOURNE, Oct 20 (Reuters) - London copper drifted on Thursday in low-volume trade, as steps by China to cool its real estate market, a key metals user, dampened buying interest.

China's economy expanded at a steady 6.7 percent in the third quarter, partly fuelled by red-hot growth in property prices, which Beijing is now taking steps to cool down.

China's Guangzhou city will ramp up its monitoring of irregular activities in its property market, while developers in the city of Wuhan will be more closely scrutinised.

"Near-term, the market remains worried about the negative impact of cooling measures on the property market and the ramifications on steel and base metals demand, while steel and aluminium production is increasing," Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities said in a report.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had edged down 0.3 percent to $4,656 a tonne by 0747 GMT. Prices are holding above one-month lows of $4,623.25 a tonne, helped by slowly improving demand from China.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper ended up 0.1 percent at 37,310 yuan ($5,536) a tonne.

"Weaker LME prices have helped moved the arbitrage and generated more interest as traders seek to import," broker Triland Metals said in a report. Premiums are trading at $65-$70 a tonne compared to $60 a tonne last week, it said.

Meanwhile, global miner Rio Tinto on Thursday cut its 2016 guidance for iron ore shipments by as much as 5 million tonnes after releasing lower third-quarter production data, citing shipping interruptions.

BHP Billiton's nickel business, which faced closure after failing to attract a buyer, is spending $2 million a month on improvements and making headway to extend operations through the next decade, a senior executive said on Thursday.

Elsewhere, the European Central Bank is set to keep policy unchanged later in the session but will likely lay the groundwork for more easing in December as it tries to sustain a long-awaited rebound in consumer prices.

Link to article

 

UPDATE 1-China's coking coal softens on profit-taking, but outlook firm

* Profit-taking drives prices down

* Short-term outlook remains fundamentally positive

* Coal supply shortage is not expected to ease soon (Updates close prices)

SHANGHAI, Oct 20 (Reuters) Chinese coking coal futures retreated on Thursday as investors locked in profits after a four-day rally, but the overall outlook remained firm due to the continued supply shortage and strong demand from steelmakers.

Some bulls have cleared their positions after making profits by betting on rising prices, said Bai Jing, an analyst with Galaxy Futures in Beijing.

"There is some short-term profit-taking, but the overall market remains positive in the near future as steel mills kept high production and have a strong appetite for coking coal and coke, while the coal shortage is not expected to ease soon," Bai added.

Coking coal futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange slipped 0.8 percent to close at 1,213 yuan ($179.99) a tonne. The contract has surged 43 percent since the end of August and 118 percent year-to-date.

China has aimed to cut overcapacity in its coal sector as part of efforts to push supply-side reforms, a move that has unexpectedly resulted in the months-long rally in coal prices and low inventories.

China has ordered major coal mines to raise output since September, but the effort has not been sufficient enough to boost supplies amid strong demand.

The most active rebar futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange edged up 0.6 percent to 2,486 yuan a tonne by close and iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 0.5 percent to 443.5 yuan a tonne.

Dalian coke futures inched up 0.5 percent to 1,548.5 yuan a tonne.

Iron ore for delivery to China's Tianjin port .IO62-CNI=SI stood unchanged at $58 a tonne on Wednesday, according to data from The Steel Index.

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Why Chinese Money Is not the Answer to Mongolia's Economic Woes

Mongolia weighs IMF financing against Chinese alternative.

October 20 (The Diplomat) Earlier this month, the Finance Minister and Central Bank Governor of Mongolia traveled to Washington. D.C. to hold initial discussions with the IMF regarding a loan to ease the country's fiscal pressure.  The details of Mongolia's request to the IMF are not publicly available, but the discussion centered around an amount of up to $1.5 billion.  The IMF is now reviewing the request and will be sending a technical team to Mongolia for further evaluation.

But there are senior-level voices within the Mongolian government that are against the country pursuing the IMF route, believing that IMF financing will come with too many strings attached.  These voices are advocating that the country instead look to China for money that they believe would be easier and cheaper.  But what these Mongolian government officials seem not to realize – and what many other countries have learned the hard way – is that Chinese money comes with just as many strings attached.  The strings are less obvious, but they are ultimately more insidious and would damage Mongolia's economic and geopolitical prospects.

Mongolia is facing a 2016 budget deficit of 20 percent of GDP.  The overall debt burden, meanwhile, has reached around 200 percent of the country's total GDP.  Much of this debt has been accumulated during the past few years.  Mongolia's economy is heavily dependent upon exports of key commodities like copper and coal.  When prices for those commodities began to slump in 2012, Mongolia's growth slowed from a high of 17 percent in 2011 – when it was the fastest-growing economy in the world – to a low of 2.3 percent in 2015.  This slowdown hit the country's balance of payments and put a tight squeeze on the government's budget.

In the mid- to long-term, Mongolia's debt is more than manageable.  The country will see a dramatic spike in its capital inflows over the coming years as commodities prices begin to recover.  Indeed, just this year alone, coal prices increased 150 percent and copper prices have also stabilized, recording modest gains for 2016 after a multi-year slide.  Meanwhile Oyu Tolgoi, the country's largest copper mine (and by many accounts the second largest copper deposit in the world), is now embarking on Phase 2 of its development – a $5 billion capital expenditure (capex) program to develop the underground portion of the mine.  This capex program will in and of itself provide a lift for the country's economy over the coming years, independent of the actual revenues the mine generates from its mineral exports once it is fully up and running.  Indeed, by 2018 analysts project that Mongolia will see GDP growth of around 7 percent and by 2019 growth should be back in double-digit territory.

But in the near-term, Mongolia's ongoing balance of payments deficit poses challenges.  Growth is likely to remain anemic in 2016 and 2017.  At the same time, some of the debt incurred by the Mongolian government to close its fiscal gap over the last few years comes due very soon.  In fact, in March of 2017 – just five months out – Mongolia must repay $580 million to lenders on a bond that was issued by the Development Bank of Mongolia.  And in May 2018, it must repay another $500 million for the Chinggis Bond, which is held by a variety of institutional investors around the world.

What Mongolia needs, then, is bridge financing to allow it to comfortably weather the next couple of years.

But Chinese financing would do much more than that. Several Mongolian news outlets have published articles suggesting that China may be offering up to $4 billion of debt relief. That kind of indebtedness would give China tremendous political and commercial leverage over Mongolia; and as China has demonstrated time and again in countless markets across other parts of Asia as well as in Africa, it does not hesitate to use that leverage to its advantage.

Indeed, China's offer must be understood within the context of its "One Belt, One Road" policy.  As part of that policy, China is seeking to advance its own commercial and strategic interests across the Asian landmass.  In the case of Mongolia, this means making sure that any financing China provides would be used to finance infrastructure that would serve the needs of the Chinese economy, such as transit corridors for Chinese goods, and it would require Chinese that Chinese companies receive the contracts to construct that infrastructure.  It also means China will make sure that its state-owned-enterprises receive preferential access to Mongolia's attractive mineral assets.  And China may even use its leverage to put limits on Mongolian relations with the United States and Europe, in an effort to undermine Mongolia's "third neighbor policy" – which refers to the country's strategy of maintaining good relations with the United States and Europe as a hedge against the country's two actual neighbors, China and Russia.

The IMF financing, on the other hand, would more squarely address Mongolia's current needs.  At approximately $1.5 billion, the package would relieve significant fiscal pressure over the next two years.  Yes, it would come with some strings attached: specifically, the IMF would require belt-tightening steps to reduce government spending and increase government revenues.  But these would be prudent steps for Mongolia to take in any event, and the IMF could serve as a convenient scapegoat in the event that any of the measures are not popular with the Mongolian public.  The IMF financing package would also do much to bolster investor confidence – particularly private sector investors and international financial institutions like the EBRD, all of whom are concerned that a bail-out provided by China would make it more difficult for non-Chinese firms and organizations to operate in Mongolia.

To be sure, Mongolia need not put all of its eggs in the IMF basket.  There is no harm in pursuing a solution in which an IMF package serves as the main form of relief, while countries like South Korea and Japan provide supplemental financingChina could, in a limited way, also play a role in such a diversified financing solution – so long as it does not serve as the linchpin.

But if Mongolia wants to avoid making the same mistake as some of its peer nations in other parts of Asia and Africa, the IMF loan should be at the center of its efforts.

Alexander Benard is CEO of Schulze Global Investments, a private equity firm focused on frontier markets with an office in Mongolia.  He is the author of a Foreign Affairs article on U.S.-China competition across frontier markets in Asia and Africa.

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Politics & Legal

Government appoints its members of Erdenet Board

Ulaanbaatar, October 20 (MONTSAME) The Agency for State Property Policy and Coordination called a meeting of shareholders of the Erdenet Mining Corporation on October 18. At this meeting, the members who will be representing the government which controls 51 percent of the shares in the EMC Board of Directors were appointed.

The government's rights as the major shareholder will be namely exercised by  the deputy chief of the cabinet secretariat U.Byambasuren, State Secretary of the Ministry of Mining G.Nandinjargal, adviser to the chairman of State Property Policy and Adjustment Agency, former MP D.Demberel and head of department of the Ministry of Finance N.Dorjsembed.

The EMC Board has seven members, four of whom are appointed from the government.

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MONTSAME welcomes new director

Ulaanbaatar, October 20 (MONTSAME) The freshly appointed Director of the MONTSAME National News Agency B.Ganchimeg received the seal and office today at the agency. Previously, she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Open Door newspaper.

B.Ganchimeg started her career in journalism from the Today and the Daily Newspaper as  a columnist. She is well recognized among the readers and her colleagues for her skillful articles about politics and excellent interviews. Ms Ganchimeg was awarded the First Prize of Baldorj Foundation and the title Honored Figure of Culture.

She is the seventeenth director and the second woman leader of the historical first news agency of Mongolia.

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"Mothers with salaries" programme set to be implemented

October 20 (Mongolian Economy) The concept of the draft bill on benefits and allowances for mothers was approved within the policy to support population growth and childbirth. On October 8, relevant ministers of the government were ordered to submit the draft bill to the parliament.

According to the concept of the draft, "Mothers with salaries" programme will provide benefits to mothers taking care of children aged 0-3 years once per quarter. The state will also shoulder 100 percent responsible of the social insurance premiums and provide a stipend equal to minimum wage once a quarter to single parents with three or more children.

Just fewer than three-quarters of households in Mongolia have 1-2 children. Therefore, the government believes that it is correct to support households with more children and increase the number of children per household.

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President Ts.Elbegdorj receives NAMBC President

Ulaanbaatar, October 20 (MONTSAME) On October 18, the President of Mongolia, Mr Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj welcomed representatives of the North America - Mongolia Business Council led by Steve Saunders, the President of the organization. 

The parties exchanged views on ways of expanding relations and partnership between Mongolia and North America. 

The North America - Mongolia Business Council is the first organization to connect Mongolia with North America and played significant role in boosting foreign trade and investment in Mongolia. The business council is committed to support bilateral economic and trade cooperation between Mongolia and the USA, Mongolia and Canada, reports the Public Relations and Communications Division of the President's Office.

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United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2017-2021 Mongolia

October 21 (UNDP) --

Summary

The United Nations System in Mongolia has been working with the Government of Mongolia (GoM) for more than five decades to boost the country's development. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2017-2021 for Mongolia has been designed as an integrated programme that fosters cooperation, enhanced coordination and strengthened partnerships, in support of efforts to attain the "Mongolia Sustainable Development Vision – 2030". A rigorous process of analysis and strategic prioritization has led to the development of this UNDAF. The UN conducted a highly consultative development process involving the GoM, the UN system, civil society and development partners working in Mongolia.

The progress achieved by Mongolia in responding to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), other internationally agreed development and human rights standards and treaties, the development challenges that presently face this Middle Income Country (MIC) and the commitments made by the GoM to localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were taken into account in the process. An independent evaluation of the 2012-2016 UNDAF was conducted and the lessonslearned informed the development of this document.

A three stage country gap analysis1 was conducted to inform the prioritization exercise commenced in July 2015. This analysis was designed to incorporate a specific equity focus using a determinant framework. The UN also completed a capacity assessment to gauge capacities available for the implementation of this UNDAF.

The UNDAF is built on this analytical process and demonstrates a strategic focus supporting the graduation of Mongolia to upper MIC status through broad collective results centered on the SDGs:

(1) promoting inclusive growth and sustainable management of natural resources;

(2) enhancing social protection and utilization of quality and equitable social services, and

(3) fostering voice and strengthening accountability. 

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Business

Grain harvest tripled this fall

Ulaanbaatar, October 20 (MONTSAME) By the first of October, 292.1 thousand tons of crops, 122.0 thousand tons of potatoes and 69.7 thousand tons of vegetable have been harvested, and 902.0 thousand tons of hay  and 19.1 thousand tons of fodder were produced.

Compared to the same period of 2015 the crop harvest increased by 196.7 thousand tons (3.1 times) and that of potatoes by 0.9 thousand tons (0.8%) and vegetables by 16.0 thousand tons (29.9%).  The production of gross hay harvest also rose by 110.5 thousand tons (14%), and that of handmade fodder by 0.4 thousand tons (2.1%) respectively.

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Accessing Higher-Value Local Markets: Lead Firm Collaboration is a Win-Win!

September 30 (SEEP) Smallholder producer cooperatives tend to have low production volumes. When cooperatives are successful in increasing their production, they often face problems with proper storage and finding markets. Cooperatives and their products are often unknown to other market players, and their products may or may not be suitable to the end market they seek. When cooperatives are strategically introduced to lead firms, and relationships are fostered and developed, lead firms often start to buy products from the cooperatives, which leads to a win-win relationship for all parties involved.

The Case of Mongolia

I've been fortunate to see this process play out many times over in Mongolia with the dairy industry. Seasonally, from February through the end April, dairy processing companies face a lack of milk which they need to make a wide variety of dairy products. Generally, in supermarkets across Mongolia there is usually no soft curd (nor many other dairy products) to be found during that time.

Tunhel Suu cooperative, as one of the 18 dairy cooperatives involved in Global Communities' EMIRGE program, produces soft curd cheese. This cheese, which is similar to feta cheese, is a traditional dairy product which Mongolians eat year-round for breakfast and use for baking cakes. In 2015, as a result of production-oriented work from EMIRGE since 2013, Tunhel Suu produced around 2 tons (2,000 kg) of soft curd cheese and planned to sell it at a market rate of 3,500-4,000 MNT (USD $1.56-$1.79) per kg. However, they struggled to find a potential buyer for this product.

In December 2015, the EMIRGE program sponsored a dairy sector stakeholder round table discussion, which introduced Tunhel Suu to the Suu Company (no relation), a dairy manufacturing company that buys soft curd cheese as a primary raw material for a variety of their branded products. During the round table, Tunhel Suu shared their results and challenges in finding a buyer for their soft curd. Meanwhile, the Suu Company had too struggled with finding enough product during the winter.

Win-win for the Dairy Industry

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Lehman Law: By any other Name, Would Champagne Taste as Sweet?

October 20 (Lehman Law) So what does it mean to be made in Mongolia? Or anywhere else for that matter? In Mongolia the protection of Geographical indications is governed by the Law on Trademark and Geographical Indication which has taken effective on July 25th, 2010. Under the law, "geographical indication" refers to any geographical indication of a product's manufacturing country, area and territory where quality, reputation and other characteristics are defined by factors relating to the nature of the territory, climate condition or local practice.

Forms of geographical indication are expressed in single geographical names of territory that determine the origin of the goods and products, or a combination of the name of the goods and products with a territory. However, general names for goods and products of a territory within Mongolia are not considered as geographical indicators. Moreover, geographical indications are tools for protection of local industry by creating the suggestion that similar goods produced in other geographic regions will not have the same characteristics or quality. Champagne is only champagne, if it is from Champagne, France, otherwise it is sparkling wine.

Under Mongolian law, a community, association or organization of unified manufacturers of goods and products of a local region apply for geographical indication protection in writing as specified in regulation set by the Intellectual Property Office. The Intellectual Property Office examines the application within six months of filing the application. This term may be extended up to six months if required. If the Intellectual property office decides to register a geographical indication, that geographical indication shall be entered in the State register and a Certificate of Geographical Indication shall be issued. The protection of geographical indication is not limited for definite periods and is valid from the filing date of the application.

Mongolia has several traditional products that originate from its nomadic culture and its extremely continental climate. There are over 20 products which have been protected by geographical indications in Mongolia, for example dairy products, meat products, pure water and sea buckthorn. A few years ago, Champagne, the famous French drink received protected in Mongolia as a geographical indication. Accordingly, Champagne is protected against misrepresentation or infringement. This demonstrates that foreign geographical indications can be duly protected in Mongolia.

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Ulaanbaatar

UB will cooperate with Busan on decreasing air and soil pollution

October 20 (gogo.mn) J.Batbayasgalan, Deputy Governor Green development and Air pollution Office, reported that he has desire to cooperate with Busan, Korea on issues facing Ulaanbaatar such as air and soil pollution, transportation, infrastructure and garbage.

In August, Suh Buyng-Soo, Mayor of Busan, and other representatives visited in Ulaanbaatar and signed mutual conciliation agreement. Accordingly, working group from Busan, Korea had meeting with Deputy Governor.

Lee Jong-won, the President of Busan Environmental Corporation, and Kim Byong-chu, the President of Pusan Economic Development Agency, said "We used to dig-in our garbage 30 years ago, but garbage decreased since classification. Currently, we are using technology that buries garbage, produces energy and welds. This issue will be carried by representatives of our Environment corporation. Also, we are interested in projects and programs which have possibility of direct implementation, except for big projects with long term. For instance, related to recent direct flight between Ulaanbaatar-Busan, we are searching for possibility to cooperate in sectors of tourism, health and economics."

Press and Public relation office of Governor Office Ulaanbaatar informed that J.Batbayasgalan, Deputy Governor of Green development and Air pollution Office reported "In our action plan of next 4 years, we aim to make Ulaanbaatar to be financial, business and tourism center of Asia. Thus, we are able to cooperate in tourism and other sectors and we will contact you with relevant agencies. I hope you will have good effort on your objectives and we will happy to help you".

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Diplomacy

French Ambassador meets Mongolian Defense Minister

October 20 (news.mn) The Minister of Defence B.Bat-Erdene met with the French Ambassador H.E. Elizabeth Barsak, on October 17th. They discussed defence relations between the two countries. Minister Bat-Erdene noted that he has been encouraged by the fact that military co-operation between the two countries has been progressing significantly.

The Minister of Defense affirmed the country's high recognition of France's contribution in training Mongolian military personnel and expressed his confidence that these ties will continue to grow.

Minister B.Bat-Erdene wished Ambassador Barsak every success in the future.

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Ambassador of Belarus Stanislav Chepurnoy meets Deputy Foreign Minister of Mongolia

October 20 (Belarus MFA) On October 20th, 2016 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to Mongolia Stanislav Chepurnoy met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Mrs. Batmunkh Battsetseg.

The main topic of the meeting was the bilateral agenda, including the exchange of the highest and high level visits, holding of session of the Joint Belarus-Mongolian Commission on trade and economic cooperation, consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia.

The sides discussed the prospects of developing of the Belarusian-Mongolian interaction in political, economic and legal fields, as well. 

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Turkish film festival 2016 commences

October 20 (gogo.mn) Radio, Television, Media and Arts School of Culture and Arts University in cooperation with Turkish Embassy are organizing Turkish film festival from Oct 18 to Oct 20 at the Debut movie theatre. 

In regards, following films will be screened for free. 

Oct 20, Thursday:

  • 14:40 Vizontele 
  • 16:40 My Grandfather`s people

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EXCLUSIVE: A decade later, still no funeral for Altantuya

October 20 (Malaysiakini) No visitors are welcome in the collapsed world that used to be the thriving family home of Dr Setev Shaariibuu in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

The angry professor says the devastation caused by the still-unexplained murder of his daughter, Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, by two police officers in Malaysia a decade ago has been too great.

Even relatives may take only a few steps inside to the kitchen, where water drips from a frail ceiling of their rundown, rented dwelling.

Setev explains that his wife has a heart condition due to acute stress and is likely to shout at someone invading their space; while the lives of his two motherless grandsons are too pathetic to be shown.

"There are windows at home but the darkness is beyond imagination," he says, of the relentless gloom. "You won't see any beauty there. It is a hard and dark life... The murderers didn't only take her life, they destroyed the whole family… They shouldn't have to live in a world full of tears."

With clenched fists planted on the desk in front of him, and tensely erect, this expressive Professor of Film Study is explaining why our interview needs to happen in his university office.

It is enough for him to tell of a family still crushed by unresolved grief and still craving answers for a crime still without a known motive and with the source of the killer's orders still a mystery.

And still needing to "properly" bury Altantuya, who was blown to bits by military-grade explosives wrapped around her body by the two policemen who shot her twice in the head in a forest on the edge of Kuala Lumpur on the late night of Oct 19-20, 2006.

Sensationally, both killers, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, turned out to be members of a police commando unit that protected Malaysia's top leaders, including then defence minister Najib Razak, who is now prime minister. Najib has strenuously denied knowing Altantuya or any part of the atrocity.

Today, the motive for the murder and the source of the policemen's orders remain unknown and Sirul marks time in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney, where he has spent the past 21 months.

Sirul is there because the tourist visa he used to enter Australia in October 2014 had expired early last year, about the same time the Federal Court, the country's highest court, re-convicted him and Azilah of Altantuya's murder (They were first convicted and sentenced to death in 2009 but were acquitted by the Court of Appeal in 2013 and released).

"In Mongolian tradition, the ceremony and burial should be done within 49 days after death but we haven't done her funeral for the past 10 years," Setev continues, before recalling how a Malaysian lawyer helped them to receive a "small box" of remains sent by the Malaysian government to the Mongolian embassy in Thailand.

The "bits of bone" were cremated at a crematory there, as were some of Altantuya's personal belongings. The ashes container stayed in a temple at the cemetery for seven years until the storage fees were too much for their fragile finances and were taken home.

They had already sold their apartment to pay for the legal fees, airfares and accommodation needed whenever Setev travelled to Malaysia to try to ensure justice was being done.

"It is disgusting," he says of the decision forced upon them. "I basically sleep with her remains in my home now. Having her before my eyes is hard. Where is democracy?"

Setev left some of her remains in Malaysia as evidence in case, he hopes, more prosecutions will eventuate.

Meanwhile, although in his retirement age, Setev still teaches. "The life wheel of my family will stop if I die," he says.

He tells how, at home, his youngest grandson, 14, crawls about the floor because his arms and legs lost function due to an illness in infancy. Altantuya took him to an overseas clinic for treatment and he began to walk with the support of walls.

But Setev says the lad's condition has deteriorated because "economically and emotionally" he has not been able to do the same.

His oldest grandson, 19, spends most days lying on his bed, while the younger sister of Altantuya is required by Setev to mostly stay in her own home, when not at work: "I provide her food. One is already dead. What if she gets run over by a car?

A go-getter

Setev seizes a chance to talk about Altantuya, the person. He says nobody, including no journalist, has ever asked him about her "true nature" and claims her reputation was wrongly "tarnished" by others.

He tells of a natural-born go-getter who once boasted to him, fatefully: "I'm a girl born in the Year of Horse. I will make noises worldwide" – he explains that Mongolians believe that women born in that Chinese Zodiac year, associated with race and war horses, are destined to become "hard" and "go far". But she was stopped, permanently, 10 years ago...

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Cadip.org: Volunteer in Mongolia

DEVELOPING A SUMMER FARM CAMP FOR ORPHANS

Buhug       2 projects of 2 wks in May and June

ECO-FARM AND TRAINING CENTER FOR ORPHAN KIDS

Buhug       6 projects of 2 wks in June, July, August

SUMMER CAMP FOR MONGOLIAN CHILDREN

Altanbulag       3 projects of 2 wks in July and August

TEACHING ENGLISH TO STUDENTS IN ULAANBAATAR

Ulaanbaatar       3 projects of 2 wks in September and October

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Health, Education

World Bank compliments implementation of national literacy program

Ulaanbaatar, October 20 (MONTSAME) Consultants of the World Bank mission on assessment of "National mid-term program for financial literacy" program implementation have been working in Mongolia these days. A meeting on giving recommendations to the program implementation was held at the Bank of Mongolia on October 18.

Present at Tuesday's meeting were, Vice Governor of Mongolia's Central Bank B.Lkhagvasuren and international consultants on financial education of the World bank.

Mr Lkhagvasuren briefed the guests on the program implementation course and underlined there is still much to do in the future.

"National mid-term program for financial literacy" was developed, with World Bank technical assistance support by the Bank of Mongolia, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Financial regulatory commission and approved by the Financial stability council on October 7, 2015

In scope of the program implementation, the financial literacy was reflected in the general education school curriculum, and, as a result, more than a thousand teachers were trained and over 2,000 high school students started taking "business studies" classes.

Also, "personal finance" classes were added to the curricula of all tertiary education institutions, and the professors have put together student books and booklets.

The program leaders intend to work closely with the NGOs in order to improve financial education of those living in localities and rural areas and of businesspeople in small and medium enterprises, and to open a website to provide basic financial knowledge.

The WB consultants applauded Mongolia's progress in such a short period of time in improving the public financial literacy and pledged support for expanding the program outreach.

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Mongolian students experience border patrol

October 20 (news.mn) Students from secondary schools of Baruun-Urt and Ongon soum of Sukhbaatar province, experience border patrol at 0184th army division. Entitled 'Future border guard' field-trip organised by army division located in Ongon soum. Total of 31 students aged 17-18 participated field trip from 14th to 16th of October. They lived for three days with soldiers under command.

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Culture, Society

Car Owners Unite for Charity Work

By Elise Honningdalsnes

October 20 (UB Post) Two years ago, Erdene Enkhsaikhan realized that when Mongolians unite, they can do anything, despite the lack of governmental support.

What initially started off as a Facebook page for people with a special interest for cars have now become a charity group that help less fortunate people in the city of Ulaanbaatar.

"I think every Mongolian has the responsibility to take care of their family and people in need. It's in our mindset to help each other," says Erdene, the Owner of Auto Complex Auto Service and founder of the NGO Jets Avenue.

Erdene works at a car repair shop in Ulaanbaatar where he meets many car owners on a daily basis. In 2014, he decided to start a Facebook group called JET's Avenue (JET's Өргөн Чөлөө)where they could discuss their interests for wheels.

However, the young Mongolian wanted to do something more and suggested to the other members that they could start doing charity work. The members liked his suggestion and the NGO Jets Avenue became official. The members of the group are mainly young men in their 20s and 30s. They are just doing what they feel is their responsibility as members of the community.

They realized that far too many members of their community were struggling on various levels, without receiving any form of support from the government. In their Facebook group the members started to share stories from the community and suggested people in the community that could benefit from a helping hand. United they decided on a cause and everyone donated some money from their own pockets.

For these community members every day is a struggle and they do not receive any governmental support. Talking about the government's interest in the Ulaanbaatar residents make Erdene and co-member Dashnyam Dalaisuren distressed.

"The government they don't do nothing, people are dying and they don't do sh*t," says Dashnyam Dalaisuren, who's been a member of the group since the start in early 2014.

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From simple acts of solidarity to movements for change

By Kristine de Leon

October 20 (UB Post) "When we were part of the human rights campaign, we realized that, as young women, we needed a special space for women to develop themselves," said Zolzaya Batkhuyag, who goes by Zola, as she introduces herself with the two other women working in the office. In the office, a medium-sized table with chairs separates the two desks at each end of the room. The women I met were hospitable and generous: they offered me tea as we began our discussion on this female Mongolian solidarity movement.

"In 2010, we started our NGO as 'Young Women for Change', which is now 'Women for Change'," Zola explains as she points to Nomingerel, one of the original co-founders. "The idea was to have a space that would be led by young women for young women." Nomingerel chimes in, "All four of us were lawyers who met at law school." The women were determined to take their education further – to do something to empower and elevate women in her own country.

In Mongolia, women are the primary providers and caretakers, especially among rural herder populations. They are also statistically more educated and better off financially than their male counterparts, although gender equality poses an issue in a mostly-patriarchal culture. For instance, inequality in the labor market is a constant challenge. Despite their high level of educational attainment, women in Mongolia merely earn an average of 85 percent of men's wages. Women are often engaged in less paid professions and irrespective of their individual competencies; women tend to occupy lower ranks than men in the job hierarchy both in the public and private sectors. To add to the challenge, Mongolian women spend double the time of men on household and care duties. The lack of social support systems for unpaid family responsibilities exacerbates the problem forcing women to choose between employment and care, or to carry a double burden.

"We started from four members and now we are up to 90 members," Zola proudly explains. Regarding the women who are part of her organization, "Our members are very diverse. We have young mothers, small kinds of 'wing' named as 'mothers for change', students, business women, women in government, housewives – very diverse background groups."

Women for Change work on three main areas: gender equality, women's leadership, and youth activism. They address issues such as domestic violence, gender-based violence, sexual harassment, street harassment, and discrimination in workplace. "We work with women from all levels by supporting and empowering their leadership."

"The uniqueness of Women for Change is that we really try to implement our projects by letting others participate and trying to be more inclusive. We really try to make space for diverse groups, like women with disabilities, or even women from the LGBT community, or women from the ger district." In addition to their diversity, Women for Change uses creative outlets to reach out to the general public by using street art, comic books, and social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. For example, to promote youth activism in Ulaanbaatar, their Youth Development program recruited 200 youths to participate by observing the most recent election.

"We make space for diverse backgrounds. And we try to make our activities in a creative way."

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Recipe: Buuz—traditional Mongolian dumplings

On the plains of Mongolia, the cuisine is focused on meat and dairy, especially for nomadic herding families.

See what it's like to cook in this harsh climate, and try a recipe at home … "buuz," traditional Mongolian steamed dumplings!

October 19 (World Vision) Last Christmas, we featured the story of sponsored child Dulamsuren in Mongolia, whose family are nomadic herders in the country's central plains, as we followed Billy and Grampa Goat's journey around the world. Our goat characters helped show us—through their eyes—how families like Dulamsuren's survive in Mongolia's harsh climate, including how they eat.

As Billy and Grampa Goat witnessed, livestock are vital to survival on the Mongolian plains. When a blizzard devastated the family's herd in 2002, the disaster knocked them almost overnight into poverty. World Vision's staff found them and provided them with new animals through our Gift Catalog to restart their herd, which grew to more than 300 goats and sheep, as well as yaks and horses!

Due to the harsh climate and many families' reliance on livestock, Mongolian cuisine is focused on meat and dairy products; vegetables and spices are less common.

One of the ways that goats help Dulamsuren's family is by providing milk. The family makes dairy products from it (along with yak milk): fermented, dried on the roof of their ger, and then shaped into round patties. These help feed the family and are highly nutritious. They also provide income when the family sells them.

Recently, World Vision has recently introduced greenhouses in Dulamsuren's community to help families grow vegetables, which help encourage them to expand their diet to include veggies! It also serves as an additional source of income.

The meat used in Mongolian cooking is either dried for the winter or cooked as an ingredient for soups and dumplings.

If you'd like to try cooking Mongolian cuisine at home, below is a simple recipe for making traditional Mongolian steamed dumplings called buuz. For the Mongolian Lunar New Year holiday (usually late January or February)—which is commonly known as Tsagaan Sar—Mongolian families may make between one and two thousand of these dumplings!

Ingredients: What You'll Need

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Nature, Environment

Snow closes roads during Mongolian local election

October 20 (news.mn) The Mongolian local election took place on 19th of October. But bad weather affected local election turnout. Snowstorms closed many roads in the western part of Mongolia. The National Emergancy Management Agency (NEMA) has issued a warning of ice on the roads in Sukhbaatar, Khentii and Dornod provinces.

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Ulaanbaatar to welcome hydro scientists from 14 countries

Ulaanbaatar, October 20 (MONTSAME) The 24th Meeting of the International Hydrological Programme's (IHP) Regional Steering Committee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific will take place in Ulaanbaatar on October 23-27. The meeting's main agenda is potential solutions to pressing issues of drinking water source, especially in urban areas.

More than 40 scholars from Mongolia, Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam and other countries of Southeast Asia and the Pacific will come up with their ideas and practices of feasible ways and solutions to the problems their own countries are confronted with. 

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Wyoming angler lands Mongolia's prized fish

October 20 (Billings Gazette) Imagine being in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and stepping into a very foreign country and yet a very familiar country. Imagine realizing a childhood dream and a dream of a lifetime. Those are some of the impressions my good friend Joey Puettman had when he ventured to the other side of the world to experience a fly fisher's bucket list item, fishing for taimen (Hucho taimen).

The taimen is a salmonid that lives in eastern Asia. The tributaries of the Amur River are some of its core habitat. Taimen are piscivores, they feed on other fish, though they won't pass up a rodent or a bird that might come by. Taimen are long-lived and can attain an age of 55 years. They can reach 59 to 71 inches. TheInternational Game Fish Association world record is 92.8 pounds.

Puettman realized a long time ago that he needed to save for this trip of a lifetime. He started saving about five years ago and soon after contacted Scott Heywood, of Angling Destinations, to book a trip. Heywood has worldwide angling opportunities, and he had the right trip for Puettman. Heywood booked Puettman withMongolia River Outfitters, and the trip was cast.

Puettman said that the last year and a half was spent in planning and preparation. A lot of the trip was just getting there: it took him three days of travel to reach the Onon River in Mongolia. He flew from Billings to Seattle to Seoul, South Korea, to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. From there he took a small plane to the Onon River and then rode in a Russian SUV for a couple hours before meeting his guides and other anglers.

"The guides were international in origin: one was from New Zealand; one from Australia; one from Chile; and one from Morocco," Puettman said. "They all loved to fish and guide, and they traveled the world to guide in various areas.

"We floated the river in American-made drift boats that were brought in containers.

"The Onon River was like no place I had ever been, and yet it seemed like places I had been — only as they must have been 1,000 years ago," Puettman said. "It reminded me of sections of the Madison River, Bighorn River, or Wind River Canyon in many ways. The amazing thing about the area was that there were no fences and no 'No Trespassing' signs.

"We were the only boats on the river. Can you imagine fishing a river in the U.S. where you don't see another fisherman or boat?

"We'd see nomadic herders in the distance. They seemed to be as curious to view us floating by in drift boats as we were to view them."

Puettman fished an 8 weight Sage SP rod with a floating line. He used tube flies that were mainly white with a lot of Krystal Flash. He used a heavy, rather short leader.

"Fishing for taimen was somewhat different than fishing for trout," Puettman recounted. "They didn't seem to like the deep troughs, but rather on the edges of slack water, where side channels or tributaries entered, off shelves and ledges and from around fallen trees. They are the ultimate ambush predator.

"Taimen are smart. They are hard to catch and just because you hook one doesn't mean you are going to land it. You don't let down until the fish is in the net.

"Taimen have hard mouths so a draw strike is needed to drive the hook home. You can't fight them too hard or too soft; it's a careful balancing act. If you let them get into the heavy current, you will lose them and yet if you horse them, they'll break off. When a taimen fights, it will often go into a spiral that requires a lot of rod maneuvering."

Puettman said that fishing for taimen and the atmosphere of the trip was a lot like hunting for elk and elk camp. The anglers and guides had a camaraderie that had everyone cheering for one another. Everybody knew that taimen weren't easy to catch, and the previous group had only landed one during the entire trip.

"The accommodations were quite ritzy," Puettman said. "When we arrived at camp in the evening we would be greeted with wine and cheese as we stepped out of the boat. We slept in snug, very comfortable yurts and enjoyed wonderful meals."

Puettman and the others did catch taimen and other fish. One of the other species was a lenok, a salmonid of northeast Asia; another was an Amur trout; and finally a black-spotted pike (Amur pike). The pike looked like a northern pike but with black spots instead of white ones.

Puettman said that the Onon River flows within a few miles of the Russian border, and that they were close enough at times to see border outposts.

The highlight of the trip was the last day's float of 15 miles. Puettman's group was the first foreign fly fishers to ever fish those miles.

"It was an awesome experience to realize that I was part of an original expedition; I was first to cast a fly into that water."

The last day didn't disappoint Puettman — he landed a 36-inch taimen.

"That fish gave me all the fight I could handle. He ran, spiraled, and tried every move possible — he didn't quit for the entire 15 minutes I fought him. I couldn't relax until the guide netted him and brought him aboard."

To compound the group's success, another angler landed a 51-inch taimen on the last hour of the trip. Wow, what a way to close things out.

Though another angler had caught a bigger fish, Puettman's elation was unbounded; he had landed a fish of a lifetime and fulfilled a quest that will sustain him into old age and the grave. He'll relish that trip and realize that he made his dream come true.

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Sports

Mongolian Freestyle Wrestling Association to elect new president on November 19

October 20 (news.mn) The Mongolian Freestyle Wrestling Association (MFWA) announced that a board meeting will be held on 19th of November. On this day, the MFWA will accredit one of the most successful former sumo wrestlers, Asashoryu Dagvadorj as President  of the Association. Asashoryu Dagvadorj was appointed as a head of MFWA in 2013.

Previously, the Mongolian Sport Federation appointed the director at the board meeting on 14th of September.

Sport associations must hold board meeting and prepare report statements following the Olympics.

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Mongolian, Russian fighters to compete in eight types of martial arts

Ulaanbaatar, October 20 (MONTSAME) The city of Novosibirsk of Russia will be hosting the 2016 Russian-Mongolian Cooperation business forum on October 27-30, during which the sports and cultural events and competitions are scheduled between the artists and athletes of the two good neighbors.

Among the intriguing events are martial art fights between Mongolian and Russian teams. The athletes will be challenged in eight types of martial arts – boxing, judo, freestyle wrestling, sambo, kickboxing, Muay Thai boxing, MMA, taekwondo and Greco-Roman wrestling.

The action is being organized on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations, with an aim to boost multifaceted ties in business, education, culture, sports, science and healthcare, and to present the potential projects on promoting Mongolia-produced goods on the Russian market.

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Art, Entertainment

Nomad Spirit - Exhibition Opening: Friday, November 18

By Mongolian Contemporary Art Support Association

NOMAD SPIRIT project aims to raise public awareness on potential threats to important environmental and cultural resources in rural areas of Mongolia, caused by mining activities. 

Open call was announced internationally and project received applications from 128 artists from 48 countries of 5 continents. In July, 2016, the Selection Committee formed a team consisting of artists Mauricio Dias (Brazil), Walter Riedweg (Switzerland), E.Enkhzaya, J.Bolortuvshin, G.Munkhbolor, Ts.Davaajargal and S.Ganzug. In September 2016 artistic team took part of the expedition which lasted 11 days, travelling to Uvurkhanga, Arkhangai, Tuv and Bulgan aimags to explore local cultures, people and nature, that are affected by mining and other human-related activities. Artists worked collaboratively and individually to find ideas for the project and collected materials to be used for the exhibition to be held at Zanabazar Fine Art Museum from 18 November to 10 December 2016. 

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Jazz singer Kenny Washington to perform in UB tomorrow

October 20 (gogo.mn) Ulaanbaatar International Jazz Series 2016-2017 is presenting its first concert this year with the American famous jazz singer Kenny Washington. 

The concert will be held at Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet on the 21st of October, at 7.30pm.

Tickets are now available at the ticket office of Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet and www.ticket.mn

Guest artists are pianist Paul Kirby from Scotland, double bassist Martin Zenker from German, drummer Min Chan Kim from Korea. 

For more info, please contact at: 95597500

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Travel

Ice driving and horse-sled racing in remotest Mongolia

Mongolia's summer plains have a much-photographed allure, but its deep winter wilderness is a missed opportunity that's only now being opened up to adventurers. Sophy Roberts heads to a frozen neverland

October 17 (FT How to Spend It) Ulaanbaatar is a bit like St Tropez: it has a brief seasonal window in July and August when the flights fill to bursting and it is hard to get a room at the best hotel in town. This is despite the country of Mongolia, of which Ulaanbaatar is capital, being roughly the size of western Europe. Sunday brunch at the glittering new Shangri-La bustles with Mongolian families enjoying elegant dumplings and import wines (Mongolia has had one of the world's highest GDP growth rates over the past five years) along with foreign visitors gathering for the summer Naadam. This is the country's iconic national festival, held each July, when a crowd of about 5,000 congregates on the edge of Ulaanbaatar, or UB as it is known locally, to watch the country's archers, wrestlers and young children race the steppes' stocky stallions. There are so few beds to meet the seasonal demand that in July this year it got to breaking point: the same week as Naadam, 53 heads of state attended the summer's ASEM Summit. Alice Daunt, a London-based high-end travel agent to 100 or so private clients, was almost forced to go Airbnb instead.

"This rush for a tiny seasonal window confounds me," says Jalsa Urubshurow, founder of Nomadic Expeditions, one of the only luxury tour operators to the country, who for nearly 25 years has been looking after the likes of Richard Gere and Buddhism expert Robert Thurman on their trips through backcountry Mongolia. "Summer is beautiful, but this country is a lot more impressive than a single festival under a sunny sky. Beyond UB lies a wilderness with one of the lowest population densities in the world. Spring and autumn are missed opportunities. In winter, the numbers are even fewer, with tourism close to zero," says Urubshurow. "But this is also when Mongolia is at its most magical, especially when you go remote. The first dusting of snow is almost my favourite time of year."

Putting his money where his mouth is, Urubshurow has spent the past decade and a half pioneering and developing an annual festival that takes place on the first weekend of October and promotes the traditions of the Kazakh nomad eagle hunters who live in the province of Bayan-Olgii in the foothills of the Altai Mountains. Now around 300 visitors are travelling "off season" every year to this wild part of the country – even to Mongolians, the Altai are considered to be on the edge of the world – with Nomadic Expeditions' $1,000-a-day clients staying in a pop-up ger (round tent) camp that Urubshurow provides, to witness the display of mounted horsemen hunting in their sable-fringed coats, accompanied by golden eagles with 7ft wingspans. Heartened by the festival's success, which has been attended by a smattering of high-profile visitors trusting in the simple comforts Urubshurow can pull off, his company is now bringing clients to Mongolia in deep winter, to attend a newly inaugurated ice festival in a different area – on a frozen Lake Khövsgöl, in the northwest of the country, at the feet of the eastern Sayan Mountains.

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Beyond the mutton: eating in Mongolia

October 20 (Onewildsong Blog) I am sitting in a cosy lounge chair at Code, a French style patisserie on Urt Tsagaan Road. Piled up behind me are the many layers that need to be shed when entering almost any building in UB: down jacket, jumper, scarf, mittens. Although it's below zero outside, it's always tropically warm indoors.

The waitress brings me an espresso and one of those squat, plump little cakes called 'petites madeleines'. After pondering the wonders of the madeleine a while, and spending a little time looking at what is trending on my Facebook newsfeed, it occurs to me that I ought to write something about the everyday in Mongolia. Food is an obvious place to start, it being what's in front of me at the time of writing. I've lost count of the number of people back in Australia who asked:  'Mongolia? But you're vegetarian. Won't you starve?' Other doubting Thomas's commented: 'I give you six months. You'll love eating mutton by then.'

Granted, Mongolia's most famous dishes are on the meaty side. There arekhooshuur—pockets of pastry filled with minced meat and potato and deep fried. They are available almost everywhere, from fast food places catering to students at the university, to the more upmarket restaurants, to road side shacks beside major roads. More touristy places will occasionally make a vegetarian version with cabbage, carrot and potato. There are buuz—steamed dumplings filled with mince meat. We've found frozen vegan versions filled with black beans, tofu and spinach. Tsuivan are fat noodles fried with mutton, onion, cabbage and carrot, easily made sans mutton. There is horhog. Standing alone, hor and hog translate to 'poison' and 'rubbish'. Together they are a dish made from a whole sheep cut into chunks and boiled in a container with hot stones, and perhaps some potato or carrot. We have yet to find a vegetarian version of this one. Our meat eating friends assure us that it does taste good, albeit with a strong mutton flavour. They never seem able to eat much of it though.

Despite the meatiness of traditional Mongolian cuisine, we have not wasted away. Many restaurants in UB at least make a vegetarian pizza or pasta. Good Indian food abounds. There is also a good handful of dedicated vegan and vegetarian restaurants. One does a haloumi burger. Another does mock meat versions of Asian classics. One near my office serves up something that needs to be chased by a visit to the health clinic and a full course of norfloxacin.

Outside UB, things are a little trickier. We tell people we are tsagaan khoolton—'white food eaters'. In ger camps, this usually means being given cabbage, carrot and potato soup. Among the most useful tips and tricks for new players we've received: carry a bottle of chilli sauce everywhere.  In rural restaurants we have awkward conversations about whether pork is meat, sausage is meat, or chicken is meat, which eventually lead to a not overly disappointed acceptance on our part that we will be calling a bowl of hot chips dinner.

Self-catering is the other option. There is no one market or supermarket that has everything, and things aren't restocked with any regularity. There is much comparing of notes among the Australian community about specialty items. 'Have you been to Khan Deli yet? They have proper bagels'. 'Quick, eMart has turmeric and paneer'. 'Where on earth did you find kale?'  It has taken four months to discover that parmesan cheese is available. (I'd say where, but then it might all sell out. Okay, try the fancy Italian place tucked away behind Choijin Lama Temple Museum. Please leave me a wedge.) Fresh fruit and vegetables are available, although as it gets colder the range is more limited, more expensive and looking a little sadder. Much of the fruit is imported from South America or China. We mostly get apples, pears and bananas, although for a period we had plums and nectarines, and on one occasion a mangosteen, which would have made Queen Victoria proud.

So we are by no means starving, nor have we become carnivorous. Although having come from Melbourne, there are things we miss. Antipasto. Felafel after midnight. And 40,000₮ serves of smashed avo on sourdough. Now that would really be something.

Like what you've read? We also have a blog about cycletouring in Europe. Check it out here: https://journals.worldnomads.com/katescarlett

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