Mogi: thought I'd share this again to let new subscribers know about upcoming changes to CoverMongolia NewsWire
Cover Mongolia Fundraising Proposals
Here are 3 fundraising ideas I'm launching:
1) Donation Scheme for Individuals: To pilot the donation scheme starting in the near future. I will set up a PayPal account for anyone residing overseas, and a local bank account for individuals residing in Mongolia.
a. Starting from May, I would run two different versions of the newswire. One to donors the current version, and a cut version to non-donors. A cut version would mean just the headlines and first few paragraphs with no links.
b. Donations could be on a quarterly basis
2) Banner Advertising: Also, I'm proposing an opportunity to advertise on the newswire as well. A top banner as you see above and 6 Middle Banners seen below, positioned between sections 1. Overseas Market 2. Domestic Market 3. Economy 4. Politics 5. Business 6. Diplomacy and 7. Social, Environmental, Others. Pricing proposals could be:
a. ₮50,000 per issue for Top Banner,
b. ₮45,000 per issue for Middle Banner 1,
c. ₮40,000 per issue for Middle Banner 2,
d. ₮35,000 per issue for Middle Banner 3,
e. ₮30,000 per issue for Middle Banner 4,
f. ₮25,000 per issue for Middle Banner 5, and
g. ₮20,000 per issue for Middle Banner 6
3) Corporate Subscription: Since the newswire is going to be split into a full and a cut version, I thought perhaps this would create an incentive for individuals to convince their companies to pay for the subscription. Pricing scheme could be in the range of ₮100,000-₮500,000 a month depending on company size and relevance of my newswire to their business.
a. Best way for companies to take it would be: Wouldn't it be much more expensive than ₮500,000 to hire a person to do this type of market research?
Rio Tinto Appoints Mongolian Ex-Banker Bold as Copper President
April 25 (Bloomberg) Rio Tinto (RIO) Group Plc., in talks to mend a rift with Mongolia's government over a $6.6 billion copper and gold project in the country, will appoint Mongolian national Bold Baatar as president of its copper group.
Bold will be based in London as head of international operations, overseeing mines in countries including Australia, South Africa and Papua New Guinea, Rio Tinto said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. An adviser to Rio for three years, Bold will take up the new role starting June 3 and report to Jean- Sebastian Jacques, chief executive officer of the copper business, Rio said.
Rio's scheduled June start of production at the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, the world's biggest untapped resource of gold and copper, was thrown in doubt earlier this year as the nation's government clashed with the world's second-largest miner over cost overruns at the project. Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj said in February the country wants more of its nationals in key positions and greater control of a project that will represent 30 percent of its economy once in full production.
Bold, formerly an investment banker with JPMorgan Chase & Co. based in New York, London and Moscow, has also worked as chief executive officer of Mongolia's Newcom Group, which among other assets co-owns the country's biggest telecommunications network together with Japan's Sumitomo Corp. (8053) and KDDI Corp. (9433) U.S.-educated, Bold in 2011 acquired gold mining company ZAO Zolotoy Vostok Mongolia together with entrepreneur Ganbold Tordai for about $300 million, Ganbold said at the time.
Bold's advisory role to Rio Tinto over the last three years was focused on Mongolia business, Burenbayar Chanrav, a spokesman for Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the Rio-controlled company that's developing the namesake mine, said by phone today in Ulaanbaatar.
BDSec: Is the dispute over Oyu Tolgoi near an end?
April 23 (BDSec) Over the weekend, Prime Minister Altankhuyag's Cabinet met and gave specific directives to all government officials involved with OT to do everything possible to insure production starts on time in June. This is a significant about face, as we had been told by several contacts on the ground not to expect a resolution until after the election. Minister of Mining Gankhuyag was specifically instructed to "speed-up the land, foreign labor force, customs documentation permits and take actions on solving water, environmental, power plant, third-party laboratory, and infrastructure issues." In a press conference yesterday, Minister Gankhuyag said "Oyu Tolgoi will start exporting in June." This statement was clear and unqualified and suggests Gankhuyag can and will do what the Cabinet has instructed. We can't help but notice a sense of urgency by the current administration, which is a very encouraging development and suggests they want to put this issue behind them.
Cameron McRae's comments at the Mongolian Investment Summit in London were also positive, as he said talks on bank financing for Phase 2 of OT's mine expansion "is now well advanced." McRae also said they were making "constructive progress", to solve the current impasse with the GOM, which was confirmed by the directives from this last weekend's cabinet meeting. Should OT start exporting concentrate in June as planned and the costs and financing for Phase 2 be agreed upon and secured, investor sentiment in Mongolia may change dramatically.
While the finger is usually pointed at the GOM when negotiations aren't successful, it's important for investors to realize how much has changed since the Investment Agreement was signed. The former President who was a strong supporter the original OT agreement, Enkhbayar, is incarcerated (in a hospital), his party (the MPP) is now in opposition. Many MPP MP's (current and former) who originally supported the agreement, now attack it, in the hopes of weakening the DP & Elbedorj. Some DP members have also done the same. Over the same period, there have been 2 CEO's at TRQ (formerly IVN), 2 CEO's at RIO and 2 Presidents of Copper at RIO. In addition, there are recent changes to OT's Board, with perhaps more to come. Some in the government, (who we believe to be honest in their intentions to resolve this dispute), have complained no one has been in charge long enough to get anything done. Typically when leadership changes, negotiations start back at square one and goal posts get moved. We mention this by way of background, so investors understand "how we got here" and that both sides need to understand the limits each face, in the process of coming to a final resolution.
It has been our belief from the beginning that this dispute would be resolved, but that the Presidential Election would be a time of uncertainty, with a deal most likely coming after the election. President Elbegdorj and PM Altankhuyag have evidently chosen to put politics aside and do their best to resolve this dispute for the benefit of the economy and the Mongolian people. While we've maintained our positive view on Mongolian assets, we advised clients to prepare for downside volatility leading up to the election, which has certainly played out as of late. However, we think further downside risk related to the election is unlikely and advise investors to move up their timeframes and buy now. MSE stocks are "dirt cheap", as a basket of Mongolia's best growth stocks can be bought for 11.5x's trailing EPS, while growing revenues 37% and earnings 54%, which we detail in a recent note: A Quantitative Look at Mongolian Equities. Turquoise Hill Resources (US: TRQ) seems the most obvious beneficiary to the GOM's cooperative approach and in our view is discounting a very negative outcome, which seems unlikely to occur. Should the issues at OT be resolved and the export of concentrate begin in June, we think shares of TRQ could rally violently. TRQ's market cap of ~$5.5B is $700M less than the invested capital for Phase 1 of $6.2B, a large disconnect considering OT's 50+ year mine life. We would also add that the mainstream press and the Wall Street analyst community seem to be unaware of these recent developments, offering investors an opportunity to buy TRQ at just ~10% above multi year lows of $5.03/share.
Cook Up 7.5% Yields With Short 4-Year MMC Bonds
April 24 (Randy Durig, Seeking Alpha) This week we return to the far eastern country of Mongolia to find what we believe are excellent short-term, high-yielding U.S. dollar corporate bonds relative to the amount of risk that investors typically find in much more common or more popular domestic U.S. corporate bonds. Increasingly known for its vast mineral resources, Mongolia is the fastest growing country in the world with an amazing 17%-a-year growth rate. As the Mongolian economy transitions away from a long history of oppression and into free markets, the sheer abundance of its very low cost resources has unlocked great market opportunities for their county.
One of the companies leading this charge is Mongolian Mining Corporation, a high-quality hard coking coal producer and exporter. Although the currently indicated 7.5% yield to maturity of this bond is lower than some of the double-digit yields that we have presented recently, the following review shows why we believe adding these short four-year, 8.875% high coupon Yankee bonds from Mongolian Mining to our offers great cash flow and helps to lower overall portfolio risk through a broad and diverse investment strategy.
Cayman Islands based Mongolian Mining Corporation () is the largest producer and exporter of high-quality coking (metallurgical) coal in Mongolia. Metallurgical coal is a fuel with few impurities and high carbon content, and 60- 70% of the steel produced today uses metallurgical coal. Its two large open pit mines enable MMC to be one of the lowest costs, high quality metallurgical coal producers in the world at around USD23.9 per ton.
In an effort to improve coal quality, Mongolian Mining Corp has invested in building a coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP) that will allow it to process and wash coal. The CHPP Module II came to full operation in 2H 2012, increasing its total processing capability to 10Mtpa. CHPP product tonnage for 2012 increased 175% over 2011. The CHPP Module III has been completed, and its commissioning is expected in 1H 2013. This will increase the total processing capacity to 15Mtpa starting in 2H 2013.
Through steadily increasing volume over the years, China has become the number 1 global producer of steel, and has become a net coking coal importer. China imported 53.5 million metric tonnes of coking in 2012, compared to 44.7 Mt in 2011. Mongolia preserved its position as the largest supplier of coking coal to China with approximately 35.6% share by volume in total Chinese coking coal imported in 2012. Mongolian companies enjoy the lowest production cost due to thick coal bed and open pit mining, and supplies coal at a discounted price to China. Thus, Mongolian coal will be least affected by decline in global coal prices and is able to provide high quality coal at about ½ the price of its Canadian and Australian based competitors. The graph below helps to demonstrate how its low production costs allow MMC to provide high quality coal at about half the price of its Canadian and Australian based competitors. MMC is the dominate Mongolian coking coal provider.
The Group's gross profit for the year ended 31 December 2012 was approximately USD54.1 million, representing a decrease of USD152.1 million, or 73.8 %, from gross profit of USD206.2 million recorded for the year ended 31 December 2011. In 2012, gross profit margin was 11.4%, compared with 38.0% in 2011. The decrease in gross profit and gross profit margin was mainly driven by 1) a decrease in the average selling price (ASP) of coking coal products supplied by the Group due to challenging market conditions in China as demand from steel mills and coke plants was affected by global economic conditions, and 2) costs related to coal transportation and stockpile loss totaling USD19.5 million, which was one-off recording at the end of the year. The global economy in 2012 went through a challenging period amid a slower than expected recovery in the USA and the uncertainty linked to the European sovereign debt crisis. Affected by declines in the export sector, and also by the Chinese government's continuation to tighten policies designed to curb inflation in the property sector, the Chinese domestic economic growth rate slowed down to 7.4% in the third quarter of last year and stood at 7.9% as at the end of 2012 compared to 8.9% reported in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Average Selling Price per tonne (USD, washed hard coking coal)
Hit by a steep decline in coal's ASP in 2012, MMC ended the year with revenues of $475.5 million (a 13% decline from 2011) and a net loss of $2.5 million compared to a profit of $119.1 million a year earlier. Arch Coal's () call for Asian met coal demand to pick up in the second half of 2013 in spite of still weak steel markets in Europe. Still, BHP Billiton Ltd. () has identified about 10 noncore businesses it could exit as it too , including its Gregory Crinum metallurgical coal mine in Queensland. So, while the low ASP for Mongolian Mining's met coal remains a concern, we are impressed with its relatively low cost of production and (EBITDA) generation, and see that the biggest risks to earnings and cash flow is not likely to be big fluctuations in the demand for their products, but rather, in transportation issues and production costs.
MMC is headquartered in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and employs over 2,400 people. By providing a profitable low cost service with limited direct competition, it appears that Mongolia Mining is well positioned as a vital component to the Mongolian economy and we anticipate that it will its large economies of scale will continue to show improvement in costs savings and solid earnings and cash flow going forward. Therefore, it is our opinion that the poor earnings of 2012 last year is likely to turn around in 2013 and is now presenting us with a good opportunity to acquire these bonds at an even more favorable yield than they were trading at three months earlier.
The major contributing factors of the Group's net loss position are a decrease in the ASP of coking coal products, costs related to coal transportation and stockpile losses totaling $19.5 million (which was one-off recording at the end of the year), and an increase in the Group's finance costs due to the issue of guaranteed senior notes and other facilities, bringing total net finance cost to $11.4 million. Gross profit for the year was $54.1 million, while profits from operations was $12.4 million. While this is certain farther removed from the normal criteria we strive to achieve and indicative a higher risk, MMC also stated that coal inventories in China have returned to normal levels from the fourth quarter of 2012 and "re-stocking activities are expected to positively influence coking coal prices in the short-term."
The consolidated debt of Mongolia mining at the end of 2012 was $1,009 million, primarily attributed to the 2017 Notes. Cash and cash equivalent at the end of 2012 was about $284.3 million, giving them a debt to cash ratio of about 3.5 to 1. Considering its reasonably strong cash flow and sound cash position, we remain of the opinion that it is a lower fiscal risk.
Mongolia Mining's total debt appears to be trading at about 64% of its currently indicated enterprise value of about $1.568 billion. While this may appear higher than we typically like to see, its cash position of $284 million represents over 18% of the valuation given to it by the capital markets and adds reasonably sound resiliency to its balance sheet.
In March 2012, the Group successfully issued $600 million Guaranteed Senior Notes at 8.875%, maturing in 2017. Although the credit ratings of B+/B1 assigned to this debt are widely different than that of our government's sovereign debt, when set in comparison to the paltry 0.74% yields of longer five year U.S. Treasuries we believe this nearly 7% difference in yield represents a savvy opportunity for higher rewards given the level of risks that we can identify.
The default risk is Mongolian Mining's ability to perform. As most rating agency still rating Mongolian sovereign debt at single B, the country's low rating pretty much ensures that MMC's rating has a glass ceiling equivalent to the only nation it operates within. Considering their historical and recent performance, their sound cash position, balance sheet and the excellent cash flow that is projected to service their interest bearing debt, as outlined above, it is our opinion that the default risk for this short to medium term bond is minimal relative to its more favorable return potential. Furthermore, it is our opinion that if or when the credit ratings of Mongolian sovereign debt rise, it increases the possibilities of a more favorable rating for MMC.
The hardest risk for us to identify is the geopolitical risk. Considering how difficult it has become to understand many of the political changes and potential changes for bondholders (a la General Motors) in our own country, we again suggest that the uncertainties of changes on a foreign soil are much less formidable than in times past. With that said, it is our opinion that diversification into other forms often serves to reduce risk. Our strategy here, as with other Yankee bonds, is to focus on unique or required services that can be seen as adding key economic value to the society it's associated with. Mongolian Mining is a low cost supplier for the steel industry, and it is highly regarded as one of the best operators in its homeland.
Expressing confidence in the potential and future economic growth in Mongolia is Rio Tinto (), one of the world's largest mining companies, which recently spent over 6 billion dollars to buy out Turquoise Hill Resources () stake in the project and build the new Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine. The impact of this spending was significant in this country of only 3 million people, expanding Mongolia's GDP by 17.5% according to the International Monetary Fund. In passing the Strategic Foreign Investment Law last May, the Mongolian Parliament positioned itself to intervene in approving foreign takeovers of assets in strategic sectors like mining and banking. Subsequently, new foreign direct investment stalled and the law's lack of clarity remains a concern. However, it was recently announced that this may soon be amended to restrict only foreign state owned or directed entities. Furthermore, although Mongolian Mining Corporation is listed on the stock exchange of Hong Kong Limited (since 2010), it remains largely in the control of natives Odjargal Jambaljamts (43.45%) (Mogi: 38.48%) and Dr. Oyungerel Janchiv (11.42%) (Mogi: 9.8%).
Water extraction and power generation are costs that are subject to large variances for Mongolian Mining Corp, but a greater risk resided in the transportation of it product to market. MMC plans to have railway access to the Chinese border by 2015, but for political reasons it will not match the gage of the Chinese rail lines and will end at the border. Until this rail line is done they are forced to continue using an existing network of roads which it has helped to build and maintain for years. Other Analysts that we follow have indicated that they believe the transportation concern is the largest single risk, and have stated that this should be mitigated when the railroad becomes operational. The President of Mongolia has stated that a top priority of his country is to build a rail line to both China and to the Pacific Ocean.
Mongolian mining corporation is relatively small compared to other coal companies and their subsidiaries, such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto , and Arch Coal, and may face increasing competition from substantially larger and better financed companies as Mongolia mining. However, it often appears that companies outside of the United States might have an internal cash flow advantage. Consequently, we see these MMC bonds as having similar risks and maturities to other Yankees bonds such as , Vedanta Resources (VDNRF), or Georgian Railway, which we have reviewed previously on our blog.
All things considered, it is our opinion that MMC has established itself as a low cost leader in the supply of coking coal to the World and to the Chinese steel market. It has a good cash position, a reasonably sound balance sheet, and is evidently very well connected both politically and socially for continued growth within one of the key and vital economic industries of Mongolia. Consequently, we think these MMC bonds represent both sound diversification and a high yield relative to the fiscal risks that we can identify, and believe that their lower "B" ratings are largely attributable to the sole country that they currently operate within. Therefore, we are adding these high yield, short maturity, Mongolian Mining Corporation USD (Yankee) bonds to our list of
Durig Capital and certain clients may have positions in MMC 2017 bonds. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
MRL: MARCH QUARTERLY REPORT
April 24 --
HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE QUARTER
Mongolian Resources Limited ("MRL" or "the Company", ASX:MRF) is pleased to report its activities for the March 2013 Quarter on the Company's projects in Sri Lanka and Mongolia.
• Successful re-quotation on the Australian Securities Exchange
• Signing the Heads of Agreement on an exciting potential company making graphite acquisition in Sri Lanka.
• Review of geophysical data on Mongolian projects.
Mogi: at more than double the market price, and number of total outstanding shares seem to be same, who are they buying out?
MCS Adds to MMC Stake
April 24 (Cover Mongolia) Director's Interest Notices of MCS's two largest shareholder Odjargal and Od Jambaljamts revealed that MCS bought 1,691,544 Mongolian Mining Corp. (HK:975) shares at HK$5.23 for cash consideration, increasing MCS's stake to 33.50% from 33.45%.
Odjargal and Od directly own an additional 184,659,019 and 106,304,907 shares respectively or 4.98% and 2.87% respectively. MMC closed Wednesday up 3.27% to HK$2.21.
Mogi: This Central Asia & Mongolia ETF is a joke, at least from Mongolia's side. See how they lumped in Mongolia to Central Asia ever so casually? See how much allocation Mongolia actually gets below
S&P's Mongolia Downgrade Not Hitting Central Asia ETF...Yet
April 24 (Benzinga) On Tuesday, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said that it lowered its ratings outlook on Mongolia to Negative from Stable while affirming the central Asian country's BB- long-term and B- short-term sovereign credit ratings. Those are both junk ratings.
BDSec: ZARA BRAND IS TO COOPERATE WITH DARKHAN NEKHII (NEH:MO)
23 April 2013, Tuesday (BDSec) – On the exchange, 14 thousand shares were traded with a value of MNT 38.5 million (USD 27.1 thousand). APU (APU), the largest MSE-listed company that gets 60 percent of the beverage market in Mongolia, dropped 4.1 percent to close at MNT 3,550.
Genco Tour Bureau (JTB) closed 3.4 percent lower to MNT 85. Material Impex (MMX), a meat producer, lost 2.1 percent to finish at MNT 1,861.
Internationally renowned brand ZARA has visited Darkhan Nekhii (NEH) and analyzed their operation and products. ZARA brand has offered the company to do MOA with the company to cooperate and enhance the shoes , leather products. ZARA will visit at the end of this month again to sign contracts.
BDSec: STOCKS FALL FOR FIFTH DAY
Genco Tour Bureau (JTB), advanced 4.7 percent to finish at MNT 89, after losing 3.4 percent yesterday.
"MONGOL EM IMPEX" JSC DELISTED FROM THE SECURITIES LIST
April 25 (MSE) According to Financial Regulatory Commission's Resolution No:144 of 10th April 2013, provisions No:58, 59.1 of the Mongolian Stock Exchange Listing Rules and "Mongol Em Impex" JSC's request No:395 of 15th April 2013 to change its organization into Limited Liability Company, the total of 40,010,457 shares of "Mongol Em Impex" JSC delisted from the Mongolian Stock Exchange securities list.
BoM issues 1-week bills
April 24 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 105.3 billion at a weighted interest rate of 11.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Middle Banner 3 (600 pixels wide)
Mongolian PM survives parliamentary dismissal vote
ULAN BATOR, April 25 (Xinhua)-- Mongolian Prime Minister Norov Altanhuyag has survived a parliamentary vote to dismiss him.
Among the 69 lawmakers that participated in the voting, 23 supported the dismissal while 46 opposed.
Altanhuyag gained support mainly from his ruling Democratic Party of Mongolia, which has 33 seats (Mogi: 33? I'll have to check but my brain is telling me it's 31) in the 76-seat parliament.
(Mogi: looks like rumors of MPRP and MPP joining together is not as close as people thought)
On April 12, 25 lawmakers of the opposition Mongolian People's Party demanded the dismissal of Altanhuyag, claiming that he had violated the country's constitution.
In a letter submitted to Speaker Zandaakhuu Enkhbold, the lawmakers said that since the establishment of the new government eight months ago, the country's economy had deteriorated, inflation increased and foreign investment fallen. They also claimed cronyism was rampant among government officials.
Under Mongolia's laws and procedures, the issue was reviewed by the parliament's standing committee first and then discussed by a full parliamentary session within 14 days.
Mongolian vice speaker dismissed for hidden overseas account
Mogi: not to be confused with Civil Will-Green Party. It's a splinter party from the old Green Party which merged with Civil Will Party
The Secretary Generals of two parties announced the decision with an explanation of intention to intercept election fraud, create fair democracy in voting and to oppose yellow powder or uranium exploration in Mongolia. There is high speculation that the two parties might be allied for the upcoming Presidential Election. But the parties rejected the speculation claiming they will support the candidate who will conduct the right policy against nuclear danger for the Presidential Election campaign.
Mongolia eases restrictions on miners
April 26 (The Australian) MONGOLIA, for years held out as a potential competitor with Australia to attract global investment for highly promising mining prospects, has faltered following the introduction a year ago of stringent regulations requiring parliament to approve foreign involvement in the industry.
But the country's parliament, the State Great Hural, has now amended that tough legislation to ease restrictions on private investors while raising the bar on state-owned enterprise capital.
This will benefit Australian and other Western miners while making life harder for China, which controls Mongolia's access to the coast and provides much of its energy (Mogi: much of its energy? Nope), and buys almost 90 per cent of its total exports.
The impact of the legislation will be to remove the requirement for private companies investing more than $70 million to seek parliamentary approval.
But wholly or partly state-owned firms will need both parliamentary and cabinet approval, as will foreign investments taking more than 49 per cent (Mogi: nope) in what are deemed strategic entities.
"The amended law does not yet provide for straightforward application procedures and approval criteria, omissions that dampen the potential credit-positive aspects," Moody's Investors Service said.
The government has indicated that it will submit a new investment law to parliament this northern summer (Mogi: what's a northern summer?), aimed at clarifying any uncertainties.
It is believed that no foreign investment proposals that came within the scope of the previous legislation received approval, leaving projects to flounder. (Mogi: I think just 2,3 actual applications were sent for approval)
Exploration in the South Gobi region alone has identified reserves of about 35 million tonnes of copper, 1275 tonnes of gold and six billion tonnes of coal.
By far the largest mining project in the country is Rio Tinto's $6.6 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold resource, where production is due to start by July (Mogi: June). The Mongolian government holds 34 per cent of the project. Ownership and profit issues remain under negotiation. (Mogi: no dispute over ownership)
Law firm Allens, which opened an office in the Mongolian capital of Ulaan Baatar (Mogi: Ulaanbaatar) 18 months ago, said: "While the amendment is a step in the right direction, many issues with the (foreign investment) law remain.
"We are also aware of recent comments that suggest the law may be further amended so it will apply only to wholly or partly state-owned foreign investors, and that a new law based on international practice will be put in place to deal with private sector investment."
Mongolia: Could things be looking up for Tavan Tolgoi?
April 24 (Leslie Hook, FT) Sometimes an abundance of riches can be a headache.
That has been the problem facing Mongolia as it sorts out what to do with a huge coal deposit in the middle of the Gobi Desert.
The state-owned deposit, Tavan Tolgoi, has enough coking coal to feed China's import needs for more than 40 years. However and weak coking coal prices, the mine has fallen on hard times. In January, it was running so short of cash that it . That customer, China's state-owned Chalco, is also one of the mine's biggest creditors, after a 2011 deal under which Chalco lent the mine $250m (Mogi: $350 in total) that was to be repaid in coal shipments.
So it is a sign of progress that Tavan Tolgoi resumed shipments to Chalco on Monday, ending a four month suspension during which Chalco had threatened legal action against the Mongolian mines.
However for Chalco, one of China's biggest aluminum producers, the coal trucks that are once more ferrying their cargoes across the Gobi desert hardly signal the end of the company's challenges in Mongolia. Tavan Tolgoi is still trying to renegotiate its original contract with Chalco to get more favorable prices. Furthermore, could thwart Chalco's ambitions to invest directly in Mongolia's vast resources of coking coal, copper and gold.
Last year, when Chalco tried to acquire its own coking coal mine in the Gobi the deal was scuttled by political backlash in Ulan Bator, including the passing of a . That law was amended last week to make it easier for most foreign companies to invest in Mongolia—but harder for state-owned companies like Chalco.
China and Mongolia have a somewhat fractious relationship. The resumption of coal shipments between Tavan Tolgoi and Chalco highlights Mongolia's close economic dependence on neighboring China, which is Mongolia's primary customer for commodities exports. Unfortunately for Chinese resources companies, the relationship seems to end there.
Mongolia's Eznis to début with flights to Khatgal, Khuvsgul from June 15
April 24 (ch-aviation) Eznis Airways (EF, Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan (ULN)) is to become the first scheduled carrier to serve Khatgal (HTM) in western Mongolia when it commences flights to the remote frontier hamlet effective from June 15 until September 15. The stopover will operate as part of a daily triangular Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan (ULN)-Khatgal (HTM)-Moron (MXV)-Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan (ULN) flight and will use one of the Mongolian carrier's four Saab 340Bs. Previously an airstrip, the Mongolian government built and completed a new terminal in 2007 in the hopes of boosting trade and tourism to the area, famous for Lake Khövsgöl.
Revoked license holders demand reissue
April 24 (news.mn) The Former head of the Mineral Resources Authority, D.Batkhuyag was sentenced for abuse power for issuing 106 mining licenses illegally by the primary and appeal courts. The Courts determined that former head of the Mineral Resources Authority illegally issued those licenses violating the decision of the National Security Council so the Courts revoked these illegal licenses.
On April 23rd, 15 of the mining companies whose licenses were revoked held a press conference. The 15 companies created a temporary board to take action against the revoking of their mining licenses.
The temporary board consists of 15 companies: Altrag-Akhas, Nutgyn Gantig, Lotus Bayalag Fluorspar, Ysun Erdenyn Oron, NUTM, GoldenGrows, Saikhandelger Constrcution, MGTG, JinCorona, Ibexland Mongolia, First Resource, Newmon River, Magic Bridge and Mongol Diesel LLC.
The attorney for the board, J.Enkhchuluun, said there was no investigation into any of the companies whose licenses were revoked.
He stated that "If the issuing of the license was a subject of corruption, the legislature should have investigated these companies too. We are disappointed in the incomplete investigation about the case. These people are unable to stand up for their rights according to law."
The topic discussed by the board is the revoking of the illegal licenses issued by D.Batkhuyag. But mining licenses issued before 2007 and 2008 have also been revoked. The companies say that it should be determined whether or not these 106 licenses were issued before the law was amended.
In 2009 amendments were made to the law on Mineral resources. According to the amendment, in case a mining license revoked, completed or receded, the mining license will be issued by tender on the operation site. The 106 illegal licenses were revoked in accordance with the law amended in 2009.
But there was no regulation to govern mining licenses that were issued before September 2009. Some revoked licenses were from before this date, so J.Enkhchuluun the attorney for the board states that the license holding companies which received licenses before 2009 are also being accused.
Mongolia To Enhance Renewable Energy Development
ULAN BATOR, April 25 (Bernama) -- Mongolia is planning to enhance energy development particularly wind and other renewable sources of energy to meet growing energy demand, a senior Mongolian official said Wednesday.
Mongolian Energy Minister Mishig Sonompil made the remarks while elaborating the country's recent and future energy development strategy at a press conference, Xinhua news agency reported.
Sonompil said that in the near future, the government would expand current power generation capacity in the capital city and build several new power plants to meet domestic electricity demand.
He said Mongolia also intends to diversify its energy sources and export electricity to China and Russia.
According to reports, over 90 percent of Mongolia's electricity is made from thermal power.
Taiwan hospitals boost ties with Mongolia
April 25 (Taiwan Today) A total of 11 Taiwan hospitals have signed a memorandum of cooperation with Ulan Bator's First Dr. Asia Co. Ltd., paving the way for more Mongolian patients to come to Taiwan for medical treatment, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) announced April 23.
"The council has been actively promoting Taiwan's international medical services," TAITRA Executive Vice President Walter M. S. Yeh said. "This is the first medical referral platform that the nation has established in Mongolia."
Taiwan doctor Li Zhongyi established FDAC in the Mongolian capital in 2010 and signed an agreement with local Nuun Has Hospital to set up a joint referral center. Between January 2011, when the center's first patient came to Taiwan, and the end of 2012, 187 referrals have been made to the island.
Li, a graduate and former physician at National Taiwan University Hospital and currently at Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in New Taipei City, said he founded FDAC after travelling to Mongolia and finding deficiencies in its health care system.
In 2012, foreigners coming to Taiwan for medical treatment topped 100,000 for the first time, and more than 30,000 have been treated in the first quarter this year, Yeh said. More than 20 overseas-based referral platforms have already been established under TAITRA's aegis, he added.
"Taiwan has world-class medical treatment facilities and they should be actively promoted," Yeh said. For the first stage of this push, TAITRA's overseas offices will help identify 57 potential locations for the establishment of referral services. The second stage of the planned push is a strengthening of after-treatment services, such as outpatient care and consultation.
The 11 facilities that signed the memorandum are Cathay General Hospital; Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou; China Medical University Hospital; E-Da Hospital; Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital; Mackay Memorial Hospital; Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital; Taichung and Taipei Veterans General Hospitals; and Taipei Hospital. NTUH has previously established cooperation with HTIH.
MAXAM Explosives in Mongolia
Blasting through barriers
April 24 (Business Excellence Magazine) In 2012, MAXAM celebrated its 140th birthday. Founded by Alfred Nobel in 1872, the group today stands recognised as being one of the leading service and industrial organisations operating on a global scale, with a yearly turnover superior to one billion euros.
Specialising in the development, manufacture and commercialisation of civil explosives and initiation systems for mining, MAXAM boasts a presence in all of the world's major and developing mining areas.
One such area is Mongolia. The mining sector within Mongolia dates back over 90 years to the nationalisation of the Nalaikh coal deposit in February 1922. In the decades since, the sector's role in Mongolia's economic growth has expanded to the point where, as of 2011, it was responsible for producing 20.2 percent of the country's GDP, 69.6 percent of its total industrial output and 89.2 percent of its export product.
"A subsidiary of MAXAM Civil Explosives, MAXAM Explosives LLC began its work in Mongolia in 2006," explains General Director, Andrew Forster. "Today we have two major contracts in the country, one with Oyu Tolgoi and the other with SouthGobi Sands. Much of what we have achieved to date has come in the last couple of years and has brought us to the point where we are now able to see the culmination of seven years of hard work as Mongolia becomes a rapidly developing mining region."
As Andrew goes on to state, while mining activities have existed for the better part of a century in Mongolia, it is really only in the last ten years or so that it has really been promoted as being a mining destination of real interest. "It was in the aftermath of agreement being reached on the development of Oyu Tolgoi that we saw a significant boom in foreign direct investment into the country. While the level of this investment does continue to fluctuate somewhat there is no doubt that mining will continue to play a hugely important role in the economic growth of the country going forward."
Oyu Tolgoi LLC is Mongolia's largest copper and gold mining company and is a strategic partnership between the Government of Mongolia, Turquoise Hill Resources and Rio Tinto. Located beneath the surface of the Gobi desert the Oyu Tolgoi mine is thought to contain approximately 82 billion pounds of copper and 46 million ounces of gold in measured, indicated and inferred resources. Here MAXAM Explosives serves as the blasting products and services provider, lending its considerable experience and historical excellence to Oyu Tolgoi.
The main factor behind Oyu Tolgoi's initial attraction to MAXAM was its guarantee of security of supply of one of its flagship products, its RIOFLEX watergel explosive. A MAXAM-developed innovation that is unique to the company's product portfolio, RIOFLEX is designed to be safe in its manufacture, transport and use, and provides optimum results in all environmental and mineral conditions.
In the simplest of terms, without MAXAM Explosives' products there would simply be no mine as it exists today. "The explosives we provide on-site for Oyu Tolgoi are used for open pit work, shaft sinking and lateral development, and this is being carried out by a workforce that is 90 percent Mongolian. These individuals have been trained up from having zero experience to the point where they are now able to deliver all the services that the project requires."
As Andrew will attest Mongolians in general possess a number of important qualities that make training them up for such important roles much less of a challenge than one would perhaps expect. "Mongolians as a whole learn very quickly indeed. They are extremely literate, pick things up quickly and possess a healthy desire to learn new skills, which is vitally important considering the work we do. In addition to their personal characteristics these individuals also benefit from the robust training programmes that MAXAM as a group use internationally."
The efforts made by the company to establish a local workforce are very much in line with one of core philosophies that MAXAM applies to its operations in every single country. "As a group," Andrew says, "we have a strong social programme and we are applying that here in Mongolia with our goals being to contribute positively to the social fabric of the country and improve the general wellbeing of its people. We are not here to simply make a quick profit and then leave, instead we are committed to leaving Mongolia a better place for us having been here."
Despite its best intensions the company has still had to work hard to overcome the challenges presented by the fact that Mongolians are a very nationalistic people, something that can hinder a subsidiary business of an international entity. Over the last year MAXAM Explosives has been working hard to convey the fact that it is a Mongolian registered business that pays Mongolian taxes and plans to one day have Mongolians in charge of running it. "For all intents and purposes," Andrew enthuses, "we are a Mongolian company and it is our desire to be recognised as such."
As the company looks to the future Andrew is equally keen to highlight the fact that, as important as it is, Oyu Tolgoi is just one contract and that MAXAM Explosives' aim is to go on to dominate the Mongolia market. "We are a flexible and adaptable business that is ready to face whatever the market has to throw at us as it evolves. We are very much here to stay and we will be contributing to the growth of Mongolia for many, many years to come."
Mining's Final Frontier
The Promise -- and Peril -- of Mongolia's Mineral Resources
April 23 (Foreign Affairs) Mongolia is mining's last frontier. The country is one of a small handful of places left in the world with major untouched mineral deposits. Its best -- and perhaps its only -- hope for broad-based economic development lies in recruiting foreign miners to help develop these resources. The problem is that it has been so difficult for Mongolia's leadership to get along with foreign mining companies that the country's whole development strategy is at risk.
The Oyu Tolgoi mine, the largest investment in Mongolia's history, has become a test case for all foreign investment in the country. It is a mixed deposit of copper and gold being developed by Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest mining company (Mogi: 3rd largest no?). Production will not start for another month or so, but even in the preparatory stages, Oyu Tolgoi was almost entirely responsible (Mogi: wouldn't say almost entirely but perhaps more as a result of it) for Mongolia's world-leading 17.3 percent GDP growth in 2011 (Mogi: revised to 17.5%), as suppliers and contractors arrived and spread benefits across the wider economy. When fully operational, the mine will account for a third of Mongolia's GDP. After more than a decade of exploration and preparation, however, Ulaanbaatar (Mogi: nice) wants to renegotiate (Mogi: I think "renegotiate" is not the right term these days) its share of the profits, and Rio Tinto has threatened to shut down the mine.
Mongolia is not the only country demanding a greater share of profits from mining within its territory. The trend is prevalent enough to have earned a nickname: resource nationalism. But foreign investors in Mongolia are more likely to succeed if they pay attention not to what makes the country similar to others but rather to what makes it different: geography.
Mongolia is landlocked between Russia and China, both of which exploit their neighbor's vulnerable position. Rosneft, Russia's state-owned energy company, is Mongolia's only significant supplier of fuels, and Moscow has a history of using energy exports as a political tool. Rosneft charges above-market rates to Mongolian importers and often supplies less than demand, periodically sending prices skyrocketing throughout Mongolia's economy. Moreover, because there are so few transportation routes from Mongolia to the rest of the world, China is essentially Mongolia's only foreign customer for its existing mining output. Consequently, in negotiations over prices, China always has the upper hand.
Mongolia seeks bilateral partnerships beyond Russia and China whenever possible. This goal, known as the "third neighbor" policy, influences almost every decision Ulaanbaatar makes. Foreign investors who fail to account for it -- even those who observe local laws and regulations to the letter -- often find themselves caught in the crossfire between Mongolia and its neighbors. Mongolia is a place where making a profit requires not only understanding the legal environment but also anticipating how authorities are going to act on an ad hoc basis. (It is the spirit of the laws -- and, in some cases, the spirit of the laws officials might have wanted to pass in hindsight -- that count most in Mongolia.) In the past, Ulaanbaatar has blocked investors from selling mines and mining licenses to state-owned Chinese firms and, in one case, even confiscated (Mogi: confiscate? Not accurate if the author meant SouthGobi, I guess accurate if it's Khan Resources) a mine from a company that tried to sell it.
Although Mongolia's mining potential has exacerbated its lopsided relationships with its neighbors, it also seems to be the only viable solution to the country's problems. Mongolia's cold winters and difficult geography rule out other modes of development such as manufacturing, tourism, and services. That leaves mining as the only possible means of generating enough revenue to address the problems holding back development, which include a housing shortage and a lack of transportation links.
Solutions to both are far beyond the country's existing means. Oyu Tolgoi, however, is the breakthrough investment that could finally set Mongolia on the right path. If the mine progresses as expected, it will become one of the world's largest and most important. Canada's Turquoise Hill Resources, which has been developing the site on behalf of Rio Tinto for more than a decade, will have spent $6.6 billion on the project by the time production commences in the coming months. The mine could bring in enough revenue on its own for Mongolia to start addressing its problems and help establish the country as a place where foreigners can do business.
Mongolia, however, seems to have seller's remorse: Most Mongolians, including an influential block of parliamentarians, think the state should get a larger share of the profits. Rio Tinto claims that Mongolia is getting a great deal -- according to a 2012 advertising campaign, the company owns 66 percent of the mine, but the Mongolian government will end up with 71 percent of the profits (Mogi: inaccurate, I believe the ad said 71% of the total cashflow). (The latter number is actually based on the International Monetary Fund's projected range of 55 percent to 71 percent.)
Unfortunately, there is no way to know whether it is a good deal. No statistics are available to the general public that establish, for example, the average profit split between mining companies and host countries worldwide. But Oyu Tolgoi is not the country's last chance. The next massive mineral resource Mongolia wants to develop is Tavan Tolgoi, a coal deposit in the south of the country that is one of the world's largest remaining sources. The state-owned mining company has established a trickle of production, but large-scale production will not be possible until an east-west railroad is built (Mogi: before that the Ukhaa Khudag-Gashuun Sukhait railroad), which would connect as many potential mines as possible. By making transportation affordable, such a rail system would turn thousands of remote mineral deposits in the far-flung steppe into commercially viable mines.
This would not only give Mongolia many more exporting options but also open up the possibility of developing new industries in new places, such as Sainshand, a village where the proposed east-west rail line would intersect with the existing north-south line. An industrial zone there could create jobs and keep more of the profits from Mongolia's resources in the country. Sainshand is also a possible location for an oil refinery, which could lessen Mongolia's reliance on Rosneft for fuels. Affordable fuels, in turn, would make everything cheaper in Mongolia, opening up economic opportunity across the board. This is Ulaanbaatar's vision. It is easy to see how mining could trigger a virtuous cycle of economic development.
Although it is unlikely Ulaanbaatar has enough money to build a major east-west rail line, the potential profits from Tavan Tolgoi are so great that foreign investors have shown a willingness to help with infrastructure and logistics in exchange for participation. Firms and governments in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea have all expressed interest in such an arrangement. If Ulaanbaatar can ramp up production at Tavan Tolgoi -- and in doing so generate substantial new revenue -- the next steps include jump-starting mining operations at other state-owned mineral deposits, alleviating the housing shortage, and moving on to building the oil refinery at Sainshand.
In the past few months, unfortunately, the focus has been on problems, not potential. A recent coal-supply contract was voided (Mogi: no, it was not), the state-owned mining company in charge of Tavan Tolgoi is facing a cash crunch, and foreign investment has largely been on hold since last April (Mogi: last May he meant I'm sure) because of an uncertain legal environment. Mongolia could be the next development success story, or progress could be halted altogether if foreign investors flee, depriving the state of the revenue it needs.
But in the past few weeks, there have been some positive signs. On April 19, the government followed through on its promise to soften the restrictions of a foreign investment law passed a year earlier, narrowing its objections to entities owned by foreign governments. This means life should get easier for private firms (especially mining companies) and harder for China's public-sector buyers. The change is expected to result in the speedy resumption of about 100 foreign investment plans.
Mongolia's proposed revision did not, however, clarify confusing passages, and local attorneys still say the law is too vague. So although this specific threat to private-sector investment is gone, Mongolia remains a place where simply following the rules might not be good enough.
Foreign investors typically claim that they need a clear legal environment in which to operate. But in this case, they seem willing to pile on without one. A quick resumption of those on-hold investments would underscore the magnitude of potential profits in mining's last frontier -- gains lucrative enough for foreign investors to tolerate conditions far less than ideal.
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Mongolia to Host 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies
April 24 (The Asia Foundation) As Mongolia makes final preparations to host the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies from April 27-29, 2013, an air of excitement and buzz is palpable here in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Among the hundreds of high-level delegates from the government, civil society, and the media attending – both from abroad and from Mongolia – Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as Yemen's Tawakoll Karman are also expected.
The Community of Democracies is a global intergovernmental coalition of over 100 democratic countries, with the goal of promoting democratic rules and strengthening democratic norms and institutions around the world. The Community was initiated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Professor Bronislaw Geremek, and former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, inviting all democratic countries to the inaugural conference in Warsaw hosted by Poland in June 2000. The Governing Council is the highest decision-making body and presently consists of 24 member countries including the United States and Mongolia.
The Community of Democracies aims to be a global platform for democratic countries, who together with civil society and parliamentarians seek to strengthen democracy both at the national level and in the international system. Its mission is to support democratic transition and consolidation worldwide and help bridge the gap between principles and practice of democracy and human rights.
Mongolia has been holding the Presidency of the Community of Democracies since July 2011. As a country that has successfully mastered the process of democratization while undergoing simultaneous political, social, and economic transformation, Mongolia serves as an example for other countries aspiring to achieve democracy in a peaceful manner. During its two-year presidential term which will end in June this year, Mongolia has focused on promoting education for democracy, strengthening regional cooperation, fostering collaboration with civil society, advancing women's empowerment, and countering corruption. In July 2013, El Salvador will assume the Presidency of the Community of Democracies.
The 7th Ministerial Conference will consist of plenary sessions on topics such as Harnessing Open Governance for Democracy and Supporting Democratic Transition, as well as parallel sessions of five specific fora: Women's Forum, Parliamentary Forum, Civil Society Forum, Corporate Forum and Youth Forum. At the end of the conference, a resolution on the outcomes of the various plenary sessions and fora is expected to be adopted.
Through the "Supporting Mongolia's Presidency of the Community of Democracies Project," funded by USAID, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and the Embassy of the United States in Mongolia, The Asia Foundation has been working to support the Mongolian Secretariat of the Community of Democracies. Last year, in partnership with the Presidency of the Community of Democracies, the Foundation together with the Zorig Foundation and MonAme Scientific Research Center organized the International Women's Leadership Forum on July 7-9, 2012. The forum brought together over 100 participants, including former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to discuss ways to promote women's entrepreneurship, access to natural resources, and leadership in the private sector. This year, through the generous support of its U.S. donors, the Foundation is supporting both the Women's Forum and Parliamentary Forum and is also providing assistance on public outreach to inform citizens about the Community of Democracies in Mongolia. Stay tuned next week for further analysis and coverage of the event.
Tirza Theunissen is The Asia Foundation's program and operations manager and Chinkhand Dorj is the communication and outreach officer in Mongolia. They can be respectively reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and not those of The Asia Foundation.
Markets and malls to close on Friday for CD conference
April 25 (news.mn) The large market and mall timetable will change on 26th to 29th April.
The upcoming event where Ulaanbaatar is to host the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies, caused the Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, E.Bat-Uul to announce several measures to provide citizens of Ulaanbaatar and foreign representatives with high security during the days of the conference.
Over 1200 delegates from 104 countries are to attend the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies and Ulaanbaatar city is expected to be very busy during these days so public security and discipline will be considered highly.
According to instructions by the Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, E.Bat-Uul, markets and malls in Ulaanbaatar will close on Friday April 26th.
For instance, Kharkhorin, Narantuul, Uguumur, Tsaiz and Sharkhad markets and other shopping centers along the way to Sharkhad, building material shops in 100 ail and also Misheel Expo will close on Friday April 26th.
The markets will return to normal from Saturday April 27th apart from Misheel Expo which will close again for April 30th.
Catherine Ashton travels to Mongolia to sign CPA
April 24 (European Commission) High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of European Commission Catherine Ashton is travelling today on an official visit to China and Mongolia.
In China from 25-28 April, the High Representative will lead the EU's first high-level meetings with the new Chinese leadership. The visit comes at an important moment in the development of EU-China relations: China has recently completed its leadership change and both sides are intent on taking the EU-China relationship forward. The High Representative's first visit to Mongolia (April 28-30) is intended to lay the long-term foundations of the EU's relations with the country.
Catherine Ashton said: "China has just completed its leadership change and this is a moment to renew ties, take stock of events in the world and assess how we can best move forward and work together. The world needs more stability and our leadership – in areas of mutual interest where we can make a difference through joint efforts – can be a significant positive force in this respect."
Catherine Ashton's visit to China comes at the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The High Representative will have meetings with Politburo Standing Committee Member and Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Yu Zhengsheng, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and State Councillor and Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan. Her agenda will focus on international strategic challenges including those relating to Iran, Syria, North Korea and Afghanistan.
On the first EU visit at this level to Mongolia, the High Representative will meet with the Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Prime Minister Noroviin Altankhuyag and Minister of Foreign Affairs Luvsanvandan Bold. The High Representative will attend the 7th Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies from April 28 to 30 and she will also sign the European Union's Partnership and Cooperation agreement with Mongolia, paving the way for closer cooperation on economic, environmental and other issues. A Financing Agreement in Support of the Modernisation of Mongolia's Standardisation System will also be signed.
The High Representative said: "I am very pleased to come to Mongolia during its successful chairmanship of the Community of Democracies. The signing of our Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will pave the way for much closer contact between us."
EU-China relations: http://eeas.europa.eu/china/
EU-Mongolia relations: http://www.eeas.europa.eu/mongolia/
Senior Advisor for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies Tillemann Travels to Mongolia for CD Conference
April 22 (U.S. Department of State) Dr. Tomicah Tillemann, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, will travel to Silicon Valley, April 23–24, to speak at the #tech4dem Conference on Governing Democratically in a Tech Empowered World. The conference is being cosponsored by the National Democratic Institute, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the Omidyar Network, and Stanford University. Dr. Tillemann will speak on a panel with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and discuss the LEND Network, a groundbreaking initiative that uses 21st century technologies to connect leaders who have navigated the challenges of democratization with their counterparts in today's emerging democracies. LEND is co-chaired by the United States and Estonia and administered through the Community of Democracies (CD). Dr. Tillemann will also meet with business leaders and technology firms about providing support for civil society and democracy initiatives.
Dr. Tillemann will then travel to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, April 26–29, as part of the U.S. delegation to the Seventh Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies. Dr. Tillemann will speak on emerging democracies and a range of other topics and take part in a panel discussion with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma. The meeting will also provide the backdrop for the launch of several new initiatives and technology platforms to help advance democracy and strengthen civil society worldwide.
Finally, Dr. Tillemann will travel to Burma, April 30–May 4, for meetings with government and parliamentary leaders as well as and civil society to discuss U.S. and multilateral support for democratic reforms in the run up to the country's 2015 elections.
104 countries to be represented in Ulaanbaatar
April 24 (news.mn) The Minister of Foreign Affairs, L.Bold made a statement today, April 24th about the upcoming event, the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies that is happening on 27th to 29th April 2013 in Ulaanbaatar.
Burma's pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, the youngest Noble Peace Laureate, Yemeni activist, Tawakkol Karman, and 1,215 representatives including leaders and presidents from 104 countries are expected to attend at the conference.
The Community of Democracies is an intergovernmental organization established in 2000 with 150 member countries worldwide. The Community works to strengthen democracy by providing support to emerging democracies and civil society. This is the second year that Mongolia has held the chairmanship of the Community.
Mongolia has established a Governing Council consisting of 25 members and an executive committee and was appointed the first Secretary General of the Community.
Mongolia also held the chairmanship of the Community of Democracies in 2011 at the Vilnius Ministerial Conference.
In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, the 191 member countries of the United Nations agreed to a set of eight Millennium Development Goals for the world's poor nations. The International community will summarize the fulfillment of Millennium Development Goals in 2015 to decide on the targets for the next goals. The Democracy Partnership methodology and the next challenging tasks will be considered during the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies.
DORNOGOVI AIMAG OF MONGOLIA AND SHIZUOKA PREFECTURE OF JAPAN TO BROADEN TIES
April 24 (InfoMongolia.com) Mongolian delegation from Dornogovi Aimag (Province) led by the Deputy Governor of the Aimag J.Galbadrakh is conducting a working visit to Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan on April 23-28, 2013.
Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture Heita Kawakatsu received the delegation on Tuesday, April 23, where parties discussed on further enhancing the mutual partnership between the two provinces.
Dornogovi Aimag has established the collaboration agreement with Shizuoka Prefecture in July of 2011, meantime Governor Heita Kawakatsu was visiting Dornogovi Aimag to sign the document.
In the framework of the tasks, a tourist group of 100 people from Shizuoka Prefecture is to travel the Aimag that aimed to exchange understandings of mutual culture, history and friendly relationships, said organizers.
As bridge established between the two provinces, Mongolian children are being traveling to Shizuoka Prefecture to familiarize with traditional customs and cultural places of Japan.
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Social, Environmental and Other
Hip Hop Documentary Mongolian Bling: Steppes to the City
April 24 (MusicFilmWeb)
For filmmaker Benj Binks, the road to Mongolian Bling began at a party in his native Australia. Binks, then 24, had just returned from a couple of years abroad and wasn't sure what to do next. A fellow guest suggested he look into a travel company called Intrepid. "I'm like, 'What am I gonna do?'" Binks recounted to MFW. "'You're gonna be a tour guide.' 'What's a tour guide?' 'Well, you take people around the world.' I'm like, 'That sounds alright.'"
Some seven weeks later Binks was in China, training to work on the railroad – specifically, the storied Trans-Siberian Railway. As he explains below, upon his first arrival in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar he was drawn to its diverse hip hop community, which he and his team of Mongolian and Aussie collaborators largely explore through the lives of three young artists. Quiza, one of the stars of the scene, raps about political corruption and economic injustice but also supports his career with a beverage-company sponsorship. This earns him the scorn of Gee, an underground MC from the Ger district, the poor, favela-like neighborhoods that ring Ulaanbaatar. Meanwhile, trailblazing Gennie, a young mother, aims to become this patriarchal society's first female rap star.
In and around the trio of core stories, the film touches on the rapid influx of hip hop influence in formerly communist Mongolia when the Soviet Union collapsed, how both patriotism and political consciousness shape the rappers' music and message, and how upholders of the country's spiritual and musical traditions view what their newly globalized, urbanized kids and grandkids are up to. After bowing last year at film festivals in Australia, Mongolian Bling is now playing a series of special screenings across North America – many of them with Binks on hand – en route to a red-carpet Ulaanbaatar premiere in July.
Why Mongolia? When did you first go there, and under what circumstances?
The first time I came to Mongolia I was working as a tour guide. It was leading people on the Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian railway – from Beijing all the way through to St. Petersburg, or the opposite, St. Petersburg through Siberia and down through Mongolia into Beijing. When I first came here I was expecting nomads and herders. I stepped off the train and discovered this urban, modern, contemporary [city] – hip hop, restaurants, bars, cafes, all sorts of musical genres. It was like every other city in the world. It just broke a lot of stereotypes that I had about what Mongolia was. And one thing that stuck with me was hip hop. My initial idea at the time was, wouldn't it be funny if Ali G came to Mongolia and did a show? Ali G's Clubbing in Mongolia Guide or something [laughs]. That was my initial idea. This was before I had anything to do with film, I was just traveling and taking lots of photographs.
A few years later I decided to get into filmmaking for another journey. I wanted to make an eight-part series, and I did a short course and realized how much work was involved in a five-minute documentary, let alone this big eight-part half hour series I wanted to make about a year of traveling. I realized that I needed to start somewhere smaller. And everyone I'd spoken to about Mongolia and the fact that there was hip hop in Mongolia thought it was cool, and I liked the story. So I thought, right, that's it, I'm gonna go back to Mongolia and start working on a documentary.
Is hip hop your music of choice?
I like hip hop. I'm not a huge hip hop fan. There's a lot of Mongolians who know a lot more about rap, Mongolian and Western, especially, than me. I like some of your more socially conscious, non-mainstream bands – Jurassic 5, De La Soul, Buck 65, in Australia the Herd, Urthboy, Sietta. I'm not into the bitches and hos side of it. This wasn't a case of, I love hip hop, I'm gonna tell a story about hip hop in Mongolia. It was a case of, there's hip hop in Mongolia, that's kind of cool, and it's completely different to everything else that I've seen come out of Mongolia. That's what drew me to the story. The same story could have been [told] through rock or pop or plenty of other genres that exist in Mongolia. But there also turned out to be a lot of parallels between hip hop and traditional Mongolian music, which were fun to explore.
Right, one of the elders in the film, a traditional Mongolian musician and singer, says flat out, I think hip hop comes from here. He cites their traditions of rhythmic battle songs. Did it take a while for you to start to take that at face value?
Yeah, at the start it was just a great quote. But the more time we spent exploring Mongolian culture, especially Mongolian history in terms of musical culture, the more we saw parallels between modern hip hop and traditional Mongolian music. I'll let the viewer decide if it's true or not [laughs], but you can see where he's coming from. But he also says it in a fairly cheeky way, when you watch him in the film.
Did you find the hip hop scene in Ulaanbaatar to be a welcoming one for an outsider? Did you have any difficulty gaining people's trust and access to their private lives?
Everyone was amazing. They were so welcoming, and so open. I think they were just amazed that somebody had actually come all that way to ask them about the hip hop scene. It's not a big place – Mongolia is under 3 million, about half of them live in Ulaanbaatar – UB, the capital. We'd interview somebody and they'd be like, you need to interview this person, this person, and this person, and we'd interview those four people and they'd all say the same thing. Really quickly we spoke to everybody in the industry, and I came back a few years later and focused on a few – Gee, Gennie, and Quiza.
It's called Mongolian Bling, but it's striking how little bling there actually is in the film. These people lead middle-class or working-class lives, and their message is about politics, about social consciousness. Did you mean the title to be ironic?
No, I really set up the title before I had even made the film. The title was a great juxtaposition. The last thing you associate with Mongolia is bling. That's where it came about, initially. The film's not very bling at all. There is a bling-y scene in UB, but I think the socially, politically conscious lyrics are probably more prevalent. As soon as you say "Mongolian bling" people are interested. The story could very easily be a 30-second story at the end of the news – "And by the way, there's hip hop in Mongolia, isn't that crazy!" But we actually managed to go quite in depth and discover there was a quite an interesting story there to be told. Somebody saw it on – I think they must have seen [a report about the film on] al-Jazeera – and they tweeted, "Mongolian rappers have less bling, more heart." I really like this quote.
They may not have bling, but they do have beef. Especially between Quiza and Gee.
Between Gee and everybody, really [laughs].
Is something like that inevitable as a hip hop scene anywhere matures – a split between people who view themselves as having to make alliances with mainstream culture and people who think that's selling out?
I think that's always going to be part of hip hop. There's always going to be that bit of bravado, that show. It was rather interesting, because I caught up with Gee and we were discussing having him play at the [Mongolian] premiere, and he was telling me his price, which is interesting given what he said in the film about not making money out of hip hop. He said, I've got a kid now, I'm looking out for my wife, we've got to eat. It's interesting how a couple of years later Gee is in a not dissimilar position to what Quiza was.
Quiza is working to incorporate Mongolian traditions into his music. Is this something other players on the scene are exploring?
People have done it in the past. Black Rose [which started in 1991 and is generally credited as the first Mongolian hip hop act] have been doing it for a long time. They're more like a techno rap band, I guess you'd say. But they've been doing it for quite a while, and a lot of bands have experimented with it. They've sampled things or they've taken songs and incorporated them. I love the blend of traditional and hip hop. For me, coming in as a foreigner – I speak a bit of Mongolian but I don't speak enough to understand all the lyrics – what grabbed me early on was music that sounded different. There's a great band here called Altan Urag. Altan Urag are a folk rock band, a bit of metal, quite a fun band, but they play all these traditional instruments, except for the female drummer on a normal drum kit. They play modern songs, but with these traditional instruments, and there's this amazing, phenomenal energy to their shows. Even though they sing entirely in Mongolian it doesn't matter because their sound is so unique and different it grabs your attention.
The traditional elements in the film are truly traditional. Did you know you were going to incorporate that from the beginning – that it was going to be a movie that contrasted [hip hop] life with shamanistic traditions or old nomadic traditions?
When I came here, I knew very little about filmmaking, and less about Mongolian hip hop [laughs]. It's the kind of thing that you can't research from Australia. You really need to be here. So I came here without knowing what the film was going to be. Through the process we just met a whole bunch of people, and we met with some traditional musicians. Without that the story would have had a lot less to it. I think it adds a really nice thread to the whole film, in terms of the Mongolian youth and their search for identity, looking into this very, very rich musical past and history, exploring that and seeing how that may be influencing and inspiring the youth of today in creating their music. One thing we noticed again and again and again was that the elders, the traditional musicians and the teachers and the shamen, were always so supportive of these young kids doing rap. In Australia, and probably in the West in general, often rap is dismissed by parents and grandparents and other people as harsh, aggressive, abusive. It's not encouraged as much as what I've seen in Mongolia. It was a very wise approach to it – the West has already done hip hop, so you guys need to make it unique by making it Mongolian. To me this makes complete sense. It was nice to see such an encouraging environment for these guys to work in.
Mongolian Bling next plays at the Projecting Change Film Festival in Vancouver on April 27, at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut on April 30, and in Washington, D.C. on May 2. Additional screenings in US, Europe, and Australia are planned through the end of June – check here for details.
Mongolia Today: Seeking New Name for our Blog
April 23 (Dr. Julian Dierkes, Mongolia Today) --
When we first set this blog up in the summer of 2011, it really grew out of some conversations around the office that Mendee, Byamba and I were having. The decision to start blogging as well as the choice of "Mongolia Today" as a name was fairly spontaneous.
We were aware at the time that Mongolia Today was also the name of a tourism-oriented site, but we neither worried about any substantive overlap, nor did we expect much impact from our site initially.
However, we've kept blogging, adding Brandon as an author along the way and we have now seemed to build up some credibility and a bit of an audience.
While B Lutaa and her colleagues who are running the mongoliatoday.com site have been understanding and friendly, it's also time to acknowledge their use of this title and move on to a new name that is specific to our blog.
We're therefore turning to you, our readers, for advice on a new name for our blog.
Some of the aspects of a name for our blog we're looking for:
· "Mongolia" should probable be in the title
· available domain name in case we want to move away from UBC's blog hosting at some point in the future
Some of the ideas we've talked about:
· Mongolia Analysis
· Mongolia Analyses
· Mongolia Watchers
· Mongolia Review
If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment with your suggestion below.
Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
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