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Tyrannosaurus Bataar unveiling delayed to June 10
May 29 (news.mn) The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism had planned to show Tyrannosaurus bataar on Mothers` and Children`s Day celebration at Sukhbaatar square on June 1st, but it announced today delaying the event until June 10th when standard museum for dinosaur will be built temporally. On May 6th The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security handed over smuggled Tyrannosaurus bataar to the Mongolian Government in New York City during a repatriation ceremony. It was a year after a long legal battle for Mongolian Gobi origin 70-million years old Tyrannosaurus bataar.
Now world-known Tyrannosaurus bataar arrived in its homeland May 17th via Korean Air Flight finally. The Government intended to turn Lenin museum into dinosaur museum in order to showcase fossil heritage to public.
But the ownership of Lenin museum is a subject of a debate. The trial for the resolution for the Lenin museum ownership postponed three times and scheduled the last to be held on May 31st.
Cabinet to submit bill adding MEC's Khushuut & Centerra's Gatsuurt to Strategic Deposit list
May 30 (Cover Mongolia) Regular cabinet meeting was held on Thursday, as this Saturday is June 1, Mothers' & Children's Day.
Cabinet decision was made to submit an amendment to parliament adding Khushuut, Tsaidamnuuryn coal deposits, Gatsuurt gold, Khalzanburgedei, Lugiin Gol, Mushgia Khudag, and Khotgoryn Gazar rare earth deposits to the list of Strategic Deposits.
China copper smelters bank on Oyu Tolgoi for concentrate supply
* Oversupply in Asia easing after Freeport's Grasberg mine suspension
* Pace of rise in treatment and refining charges slows
* Oyu Tolgoi to begin shipments around end-June - source
HONG KONG, May 28 (Reuters) - Chinese copper smelters are turning to Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia for concentrates in the spot market as a regional oversupply situation in the raw material is easing after a key Indonesian mine halted operations this month.
The supply from Oyu Tolgoi, expected to begin in June, will be vital to copper output in the world's top producer and consumer of the metal since Chinese smelters are already facing a shortage of alternative raw material scrap and several have even cut production.
China had boosted purchases of spot concentrate in the Asia market to benefit from a regional oversupply after India closed its top smelter run by Sterlite Industries around end-March over environmental concerns. But the extra supply was drying up now, traders said.
"Trading houses are no longer desperate to sell," said a trader at an international trading firm, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to talk to the media.
Operations at Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc's huge Grasberg mine in Indonesia, the world's second-biggest copper mine, were suspended on May 15 after a tunnel collapse that killed 28 people. It is not clear when operations at the mine will restart.
Reflecting an easing of the oversupply, treatment and refining charges for spot copper concentrate were up only marginally recently compared with a 25 percent jump posted in April from March. They were at $76.5 per tonne and 7.65 cents per pound for clean, standard concentrate to China in mid-May compared with $75 and 7.5 cents in April.
The charges are paid by concentrate sellers to smelters to convert concentrate into refined metal and their movements are directly co-related to supply.
Top producer Jiangxi Copper Company Ltd and smaller rivals have already cut production in the past month because of scrap supply shortage.
China's imports of copper ores and concentrate rose 37 percent on the year to 3.06 million tonnes in the first four months of the year of which 23,074 tonnes came from Indonesia, customs data showed.
Sources at Chinese smelters said the Grasberg operation suspension was unlikely to affect term shipments to China.
The huge Oyu Tolgoi mine is expected to start shipments of copper concentrates to China around the end of June, said a source at a Chinese smelter, which will receive term shipments of Oyu Tolgoi concentrates.
At full tilt the mine is expected to produce around 450,000 tonnes of copper and 330,000 ounces of gold a year.
Earlier this month Rio Tinto's Chief Executive Sam Walsh said he expected approvals from the Mongolian government within two weeks to transport copper out of the Oyu Tolgoi mine and copper concentrate was being stockpiled at the mine awaiting the approvals.
"It's still set for next month. They've been doing tests and preparation but first shipment hasn't been done yet," a source familiar with the approval process, said.
Logistics for transporting concentrates to China have been completed mostly, said two sources at separate smelters, who attended a presentation by Rio Tinto earlier this month.
Copper concentrates to be shipped to China will be examined by officials of China's quarantine authority at the mine and will be packed in bags, with three tonnes per bag. The bagged concentrates will be transported to a bonded warehouse in the Chinese border for deliveries to buyers, the sources said.
Rio Tinto is believed to have signed term contracts with three Chinese firms and at least one international trading house for providing Oyu Tolgoi concentrates, sources at Chinese smelters said.
Guildford Coal nears production at South-Gobi in Mongolia
May 30 (Proactive Investors) Guildford Coal (ASX:GUF) has now commenced production activities at the South-Gobi open cut coking coal mine in Mongolia, with overburden being removed to just above top-of-coal.
Coal mining will proceed once surface infrastructure is in place and conformance of mining operations and facilities with submitted plans is verified.
The project consists of five tenements located in the South Gobi Province (Umnigovi Aimag) of the country, which are located around 1,000 kilometres south-west of the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
The licenses are well situated to tap the end user market, due to being just 60 kilometres from the Chinese border station of Ceke, where coal from Mongolia is currently transported through to China.
The South Gobi Project – North Pit is has the potential to ramp up to produce in excess of 3 million tonne per annual from an open-cut coking coal operation.
The South Gobi Project has a JORC Resource of 110.9 million tonnes of coking coal consisting of:
- North Pit Indicated Resource of 39.7 million tonnes and an Inferred Resource of 30.7 million tonnes; and
- East Pit Inferred Resource of 40.5 million tonnes.
The East Pit has the potential to deliver an additional 2 million tonnes annually from an open cut coking coal operation.
The project is also strategically located 50 kilometres east of Nariin Sukhait which includes South Gobi Resources' Ovoot Tolgoi mine and the MAK mine, which produce and export coking and thermal coal to customers in China.
Newera Resources targets new coal areas at Shanagan in Mongolia
May 28 (Proactive Investors) Newera Resources (ASX:NRU) will test for extensions of known coal seams with a new drilling program at the Shanagan East Coal Project (Shanagan Project) in Mongolia.
The previous drilling programs at Shanagan have confirmed a near surface deposit of high calorific value black coal. There has also been reports of coking coal from other explorers to the north of Newera's permit - increasing the prospectivity of the area.
The third round program will comprise six holes for around 600 metres. Newera has an exploration target of between 66 and 111 million tonnes of coal at Shanagan.
The importance of the new drilling program is the potential to increase the exploration target and complete a maiden JORC Resource.
Newera will also drill into the potential new coal zones identified from the interpretation and modelling of the recently completed 15 line-kms Induced Polarisation survey which highlighted several drilling targets.
Kincora Copper refines exploration targets on its Bronze Fox project in Mongolia
May 28 (Proactive Investors) Jeremy: Mongolia could soon become one of the world's biggest producers of copper and gold. One company hoping to be a beneficiary of the mineral rush is Kincora Copper (TSXV:KCC), which is focused on the Bronze Fox copper gold deposit in the south east of the country. Sam Spring is president and chief executive, and he joins us now on the line.
Jeremy: I want to start, if I can, by taking a look at the resumption of the first phase of your Plan 2013 exploration activities. What have you done to date, and how are things going?
Sam Spring: We just resumed activities a couple of weeks ago. In late 2012, we got some quite promising results that I guess confirmed in advance significantly a number of the copper porphyry targets that were being identified.
The work programme that we're undertaking this year is a multi staged programme. The first of which is really re-examining a lot of the good results we got last year, and try and home in and refine the targets for later on in the year.
Jeremy: What about the issues about security of tenure in the country? To what degree is this an issue, do you think?
Sam Spring: It is a big issue that has been brought to the forefront regarding Oyu Tolgoi and the investment agreement and negotiations between Turquoise Hills (Mogi: Turquoise Hill Resources), Rio Tinto and the government. Which I guess has been a bit of a concern and raised a lot of press coverage.
The really positive thing is that it seems like all stakeholders have sorted out the major issues. Last week, we actually had statements coming from Turquoise Hills that the $4b project financing is expected to be closed at the end of June.
It will be the largest ever project financing in the mining industry. Really, to achieve that, you've obviously got to overcome any concerns regarding security of tenure. So that hopefully will be a major step forward for all parties in Mongolia.
Jeremy: I'm also interested in the number of the majors coming into Mongolia. The issue you're talking about there, I know, is about Rio Tinto and the government, but are other large companies are coming in, seemingly?
Sam Spring: You're starting to see that, despite concerns from the financial markets. You're seeing a lot of the strategic groups being involved. Recently you had Teck Resources doing a deal with Erdene Resource Development (TSXV: ERD) (Mogi: ERD is listed on the main exchange not Venture) for an early stage copper exploration project.
You had Anglo American, who appointed Graeme Hancock from Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi to set up their operations in Ulaanbaatar.
So, despite a few of these negative concerns, you're seeing a lot of people setting up ground, and setting up offices.
Because while a number of concerns have emerged regarding policies and security of tenure, the rocks haven't changed and the big picture is still very much intact.
Jeremy: At a time when investors aren't taking on too much risk, how do you persuade investors that now is a good time to get into Mongolia, of all places?
Sam Spring: I guess when you have looked at the peer group and the relative valuation, it really does show the concerns that the market has had for Mongolia.
I think in the next month or so, you'll see two big catalysts and milestones in OT securing the largest ever project financing in the mining industry and ramping up stage one production. Also, you'll have the presidential election take place by the end of June.
Those two milestones will hopefully improve investor sentiment in the second half of the year in Mongolia, and with cheap relative valuations.
Bearing in mind the potential of Mongolia hasn't changed, you won't find too many other places in the world that you've got two greenfield copper construction projects within 150 kilometres of each other, that are being constructed within a three year time period in OT and Tsagaan Suvarga. So the big picture hasn't changed.
Hopefully, that risk-reward scenario is what attracts investors back, but obviously, a couple of these milestones need to be achieved first.
Jeremy: Briefly, at the end, I just want to follow up on some news that we've seen recently from the company. This change in remuneration for directors, which is very interesting, and investors are going to want to know about. Give us some more detail about what it is you put together, and why you've done it.
Sam Spring: As a couple of Canadian shareholders have recently said to us, on the TSX-V particularly, one of the only transparent things you're seeing inside is buying their own stock.
We've taken that feed back on board, and adjusted - as part of a comprehensive review of our strategy and administration charges - directors' remuneration.
This policy is a commitment to buy a certain amount of stock on market. Hopefully, that's a sign that the directors and the company very much believes in our strategy. The team that we've got in place, the project, and the attractive valuation that Kincora is.
Origo Partners PLC: Appointment of Joint Broker
May 28 -- The Board of Origo Partners PLC ("Origo," AIM:OPP) is pleased to announce the appointment of Investec Bank plc as joint broker alongside Liberum Capital Limited. The appointment is with immediate effect. Liberum Capital will continue to act as nominated advisor to Origo.
Centerra Gold's Kumtor Operation Affected by Illegal Road Block
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 28, 2013) - Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX:CG) today reported that the road leading to the Kumtor mine has been blocked by an illegal community protest. The road block is interfering with the movement of supplies and personnel to and from the mine. Mine operations are currently not impacted. Management of the Company is working with the local authorities and the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to resolve this situation.
While the Company expects that it will be able to resolve this situation allowing for the movement of supplies and personnel to and from the mine, the Company cannot give assurances in this regard. If the road block is not removed in a timely manner there may be a material negative impact on the Company's operations, including its ability to mine the ice and waste to maintain stable pit conditions, manage the relocation of certain mine infrastructure (as described in the Company's news release of May 3, 2013), and its gold production and financial results.
Mogi: goodie goodie, Emmett's back with another one.
Turquoise Hill, South Gobi And Mongolia: Reviewing Their Fit For Rio Tinto
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. (More...)
May 28 (Emmett Kodesh via Seeking Alpha) Rio Tinto (RIO) is one of the world's three great mixed commodity miners. Its operations span six continents, 40 nations and 140 years of development, skills and work that have played a significant role in creating the modern world, the technologies and machines we use every day. I will review its major resources below.
Among its properties, RIO has majority interests in two fabulous sites in Mongolia: the coal deposits of South Gobi Resources (SGQRF.PK) (Mogi: right spelling SouthGobi Resources) at Ovoot Tolgoi (25 miles from China) and the huge copper, gold and cobalt mine Oyu Tolgoi (50 miles from China) run by Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) through Oyu Tolgoi LLC in partnership with the GOM (Government of Mongolia), 66-34%. GOM and its frequent demands to re-negotiate its mining agreements with RIO (signed October 2009) is the wild card in development of these sites and focus of this piece. (Mogi: GoM is not seeking to renegotiate)
After a two-week procedure, Mongolia's political parties have selected two candidates, Bat-Erdene (a wrestling champion) of the Mongolian People's Party and Ms. N. Udval, Health Minister of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party to run against incumbent Tsakhia Elbegdorj of the Democratic Party. If you wish to wade through the vacuity of their slogans, you may do so here or find speculative opinion here. The 3-way race may require a July run-off and some think the Udval candidacy is meant to split the opposition MPP vote and assist re-election of Elbegdorj.
It will be a mercifully short campaign: the election, already postponed once is June 26 (Mogi: not postponed, there's not set election date, each one is decided at least 6 months before by law). I note it at the outset because Mongolian politics and demands for more royalties may cause RIO to fold its operations in the country. In April it put South Gobi's mines at Ovoot Tolgoi up for sale though it since has delayed divestment. Last year Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) bid $920 for the 800 million metric ton site but the deal did not close. South Gobi has had its mining license suspended at times and two of its employees were held last fall (Mogi: banned from leaving Mongolia but not held during investigation). One, attorney Sarah Armstrong was released in late December (Mogi: released? Makes it sound like she was jailed, but again, she was banned from leaving the country but free to move around).
RIO has invested $6.2 billion in Oyu Tolgoi and if phase 2 development is achieved its production will be 30-35% of Mongolia's GDP. History suggests that the politicians will not refrain from biting the hand that feeds their deficit spending and grandiose promises of national unity, justice and ending corruption. An example: Udval says that she "will fortify the country's independence by economic method." Reading their rhetoric is worse than listening to American politicians talk about "getting spending under control." But rhetoric is not the problem.
For background on the turbulent situation please see my articles here, here, here and here and consult the invaluable blog of Jon Springer. Whether or not TRQ and SGQRF move to full operation depends on RIO's assessment of the various costs of making lasting agreements with the GOM. So far the evidence is mixed and the election campaign and its result may influence its decision significantly. TRQ's market cap is $7 billion. Its share price is highly volatile. Someone wrote May 10 that it was "ready to rumble": in the subsequent two weeks its price has tumbled from about $7.90 to $6.96. During the third week in April it made a 52-week low at $5.03. In June 2012 its price briefly spiked above $11: during 1-2Q 2011 it was near $30. Since then Mongolian politics and the changes consequent upon its sale by mining legend and founder of Ivanhoe Mining (Mogi: Ivanhoe Mines not Mining), Robert Friedland to RIO in April 2012 have brought the realities of the macro situation to bear on share price. The mines of TRQ and SGQRF seem like sure things given China's appetite for coal, copper and gold but the joker is in the context. Those considering investing should review my articles and follow the links including the interesting story of Bat Khurts and the interface of Mongolian politics with Europeanintelligence services. (Mogi: I would actually discourage reading this bloke's anything to get the right sense of Mongolia)
Beyond the shadows are the immense resources and productivity of RIO: in 2012 it produced and sold $24.3 billion Fe (iron ore), $10.1 billion worth of Aluminum and bauxite, $6.72 billion in Cu (copper), $5.8 billion in thermal coal (for electricity generation and heating), coking coal (for making steel) and uranium and $4.1 billion in diamonds mined mainly from its site in Kimberley, northwestern Australia: the long-lived Argyle diamond mine there since 1983 has been producing 20% of the world's diamonds including rare pink diamonds. RIO has its own diamond assessing, refining, cutting and sales centers in Antwerp and Mumbai. It also has important diamond mines at Grass Lake in Northwestern Canada and in Zimbabwe. It produces boron (in California), sea salts, titanium dioxide and diamonds at E & D and mines in 8 other nations. It has mining tech innovation and safety centers at Universities and IT sites (like iGate Patni) worldwide. RIO has its own rail lines, trains, ports and ocean freight shipping, Rio Tinto Marine.
With its price falling 29% YTD, RIO's market cap is down to $62 billion. However, it has fared better than many companies in the mining sector in returning to its 2Q 2012 basing level which is similar to the 4Q 2011 bottom. RIO's dividend now yields 4.12%. The 28 analysts following it on marketwatch rate it "overweight" with an average target estimate of $60.60. Analyst Research at Nasdaq.com rate it a strong buy with a consensus 12-month target of $72.27 and expect its earnings growth (12.5%) to outperform the mining industry by 70%.
Major international banks in conjunction with the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and IMF have pledged over $3 billion to support RIO- TRQ's work at Oyu Tolgoi. On May 16 the Board of the US Export-Import Bank approved a $500 million loan to develop the site, saying "the Mongolian economy will benefit significantly" and adding that "mineral deposits will be recovered in an environmentally-sound manner and the proceeds used for the human and social development of the people of Mongolia." Profits are an afterthought, at least for the record. The loan should boost prospects since it was an American rep at IFC-MIGA that had dissented from a World Bank loan to RIO previously. Mining these days, at least by Western companies must be a social welfare program for local and regional people. Outfits like First Majestic Silver (AG) embrace this approach.
But the main point to grasp in considering the importance to RIO of its Mongolian properties is the scale of RIO's other holdings. Oyu Tolgoi has proven and probable reserves of 46 billion pounds of copper and 25 million oz Au with substantial reserves inferred. The report on "potential coal tonnage" at South Gobi's Ovoot Tolgoi may be read here. Ovoot Tolgoi has been producing coal for China (25 miles away) for nearly a year and it also has three development projects.
Regarding the role of TRQ and SGQRF among RIO's assets note that RIO's Pebble project in Alaska alone has 80.6 billion lbs reserves Cu, 107.4 million oz Au and 5.6 million lbs of molybdenum. Its Resolution site in Arizona is one of the world's top-ten Cu development sites. Its 30% owned Escondida Cu mine in Chile is the world's largest, producing 5% of the world's annual Cu supply. It shares in the production at Freeport McMoRan's (FCX) copper mine at Grasberg in Papua, New Guinea and starting in 2022 will have a 40% share of what is expected to be 240k tons/day production. RIO's Mongolian sites are superb, potentially but they are a small fraction of its global output now and in future. If it finds the "resource nationalism" in Mongolia too onerous it will walk away and leave the sites, likely to China and Russia (Mogi: bullocks). I have written before of the nature of China's rare earth mining in neighboring Inner Mongolia and about its huge generation of pollutants generally.
RIO controls TRQ through its 51% ownership and South Gobi via TRQ's 58% interest. Other players are Entrée Gold (EGI), a junior miner which has rights to gold at the Hugo North deposit at Oyu Tolgoi. EGI, which also has a site in Nevada, is funded partly by Sandstorm Gold (SAND), a junior gold streaming company that pays miners upfront for the right to a low cost purchase of part of their subsequent production.
Just in the past six months the saga of RIO and its subsidiaries in Mongolia has been a roller coaster. On December 27, TRQ's ore concentrator was inaugurated amid acclaim from Mongolian officials. To Jon Springer and me that looked like a solid buying opportunity. Indeed TRQ quickly rose from $7.10 to $9.90/share. Then a slide began. On January 31 the first ore concentrate was produced. A few days later, President Elbegdorj again publicly demanded that RIO re-negotiate the LTCIA (long-term comprehensive investment agreement) (Mogi: no he absolutely DID NOT demand renegotiation, he actually urged Mongolia to respect the OTIA, his quote that wrongly gets misinterpreted in all the articles since actually meant he wanted Mongolia to take the matter relating to OT into its own hands, meaning to fully utilize its 34%, not to renegotiate at all) in Mongolia's favor and appoint Mongolians to its corporate board (Mogi: nowhere did Mongolia demand to be part of company board. Mongolia as a 34% already had, as it is entitled, members in OT board. What Mongolia wanted was more Mongolian representation in the management of OT). RIO has declined to do so (Mogi: perhaps not explicitly but appointment of Bold to Rio Copper Division and appointments to OT executive committee shows it is listening). The decline in share price increased. Then CEO Sam Walsh put South Gobi on the block after RIO sold its $300 million interest in Altynamas Gold in Kazakhstan that it had owned via TRQ (Mogi: RIO always had the intention of liquidating non-OT TRQ assets, it is not because of Mongolia pressure). One month Elbegdorj or the head of the Mineral Resource Authority says contracts must be respected, then they make new demands. EGI has been going through this since late February (Mogi: the way the GoM is handling all this is of course not ideal. But Entrée's OT licenses under OTIA was supposed to have 34% Mongolia stake, OTIA which Entrée is one of the signatories by the way): "the discussions proceed." These are the roller coaster relations and the context in which assessment of future production at Oyu Tolgoi and Ovoot Tolgoi must be made.
Perhaps RIO will decide that its magnificent development projects in Alaska and its plethora of mines worldwide better repay investment of time and money. To complete Phase 2 at Oyu Tolgoi would bring its investment there to $11.2 billion. To invest that kind of money even a diversified mining mega-cap has to know it is going to be getting a significant profit as well as showering life enhancement on locals (Mogi: like Santa?).
It behooves Mongolian politicians to remember the billions in taxes and royalties the completed project would realize, to recognize the heft of RIO and the distinction of its Board: they are people of stature in realms of governance, business, finance and media that exceed even the imposing breadth of RIO's operations. CEO Sam Walsh previously led RIO's two largest divisions, Aluminum and Iron Ore. For twenty years he served GM and Nissan Australia and for the five years prior to becoming CEO of RIO Directed Seven West Media Ltd, Australia's largest diversified media group. Chairman Jan du Plessis has held positions including 30 years with the Rembrandt Group, the Swiss Richemont Financial Company and Chair of the audit committee of Lloyds Banking Group, plc. Among other men and women of substance and prestige is John Lord Kerr of Kinlochard. Lord Kerr served 36 years in Britain's diplomatic service including two postings in Washington, one as ambassador 1995-7 and also served in Moscow and in Pakistan. For 14 years he was a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust and more recently of the Carnegie and Fulbright Trusts. A Director of RIO for 10 years, since 2002 he has directed the Scottish American Investment Company, plc among other appointments. (Mogi: GoM might not have as much experience in dealing with projects of this size as these gentlemen above, none at all one could say, but that a license to lecture and dictate matters to Mongolia, and one must understand and be patient that Mongolia is learning on the job.)
For now, prospective investors in TRQ need to watch the Mongolian elections and news regarding the possible sale of South Gobi (Mogi: like I said, RIO always had the intention to sell-off SouthGobi, and all other non-OT assets in TRQ). Until that point, TRQ remains a trading vehicle while at current valuations RIO is a solid buy. If and when GOM shows by actions that it intends to abide by the investment agreement, TRQ will become a buy-and-hold but the pattern of surprises and demands is well-established so wait and watch, particularly in this period of market volatility. Still, the heft, expertise and savvy of RIO suggest that at some point the nonsense will end and the project will proceed (Mogi: it is already proceeding, on schedule mind you).
NatSec MSE Daily Update: Top 20 +0.09%, Turnover ₮8.9 Million
May 27 (National Securities) The MSE TOP20 index has rise on 5 consecutive days as investors with investors following overseas markets euphoria. Today, the MSE TOP20 index went up just 0.09% to 13,921.26 points.
14 stocks were traded with just a total value of 8.9 million MNT. Berkh Uul (BEU) gained the most, up +14.88% to 4,710 MNT followed by Shivee Ovoo (SHV) which rose up 6.6% to 7,000 MNT. Mogoin Gol (BDL) was down 3% to 1,600 MNT. E-Trans (ETR) represented almost almost half the total amount of all shares traded today, with a value of 4m MNT traded in the stock and reached 120 MNT per share. The State Department store was also one of volume leaders with it's price stable at 400 MNT.
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NatSec MSE Daily Update: Top 20 -0.72%, Turnover ₮33.3 Million
May 28 (National Securities) Today, the MSE TOP20 Index edged down 0.72% to 13,821.02 points. On a volume of 109,501 shares, valued at 33,343,649 MNT; the majority of the traded shares were down, day-on-day.
Aduunchuluun (ADL), Mongol Nekhmel (MNH), and Remicon (RMC) were major gainers on the bourse, rising between 0.59% and 2.41%. 55% state-owned telco company Telecom Mongolia (MCH) was the biggest loser of the day, losing 4.21% to 1,000 MNT, followed by Khuh Gan (HGN) –2.52%, Hermes(HRM) –1.87% and APU (APU) -1.32%. The State Department Store (UID) was the day's highest volume traded stock at 29,186 shares with a gain of 5% to 420 MNT.
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NatSec MSE Daily Update: Top 20 -0.62%, Turnover ₮24.6 Million
May 29 (National Securities) The MSE TOP20 edged down 0.62% to 13,735.33 points. In generally, stock prices were tranquil. On the exchange, 10,597 shares were traded with a value of MNT 24.6 million.
APU (APU), the largest MSE-listed company that gets 60 percent of the beverage market in Mongolia, dropped 1.15 percent to close at MNT 3,608 at highest volume on the day. The market pulled down by weakness in APU (APU), which is one of the largest market-cap stock on the MSE. State Department Store (UID) closed 10.89 percent lower to MNT 374.27. Talkh Chikher (TCK) bread and bakery maker that gets 50% market share in Mongolia lost 8.15 percent to finish at MNT 11,940. Aduunchuluun (ADL), Gobi (GOV), Suu (SUU), Shivee ovoo (SHV), Tavan Tolgoi (TTL) and Remicon (RMC) were gainers and gained between 0.10%-2.04%.
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"ARGAI BEST" LLC'S LICENCE FOR BROKERAGE AND SECURITIES DEALING ACTIVITIES REINSTATED
May 29 (MSE) Administrative court of Capital city revoked the FRC's resolution no: 374 of 2012 by its resolution no: 156 of 2013. Hereof, the "Argai best" LLC's license for brokerage and securities dealing activities was reinstated pursuant to the order no: 33 of national inspector on May 27, 2013.
SHARYN GOL ANNOUNCES RECEIPT OF 2012 AUDITED IFRS FINANCIAL STATEMENTS FROM ERNST & YOUNG
May 28 (BDSec) Sharyn Gol JSC (MSE:SHG; Bloomberg code: SHG MO; "Sharyn Gol") announces the receipt of 2012 audited IFRS financial statements from Ernst & Young Mongolia Audit LLC ("EYM"), the Mongolian affiliate of Ernst & Young LLP, one of the world's top 3 auditing firms.
Sharyn Gol is pleased to announce that it has received unqualified 2012 and 2011 financial statements and an unqualified financial report for 2010 from EYM. Sharyn Gol believes that it is the only company listed on the Mongolian Stock Exchange ("MSE") with a three year history of unqualified financial results from a Mongolian affiliate of a Top 3 international auditor. Graham Chapman, CEO, said "the unqualified financials validate Sharyn Gol's aim to present its results in an accurate and transparent manner consistent with international accounting standards".
Sharyn Gol is also pleased to announce the appointment of Kenneth Farrell to the board of directors. Kenneth Farrell is the CEO of Bumi Resources Minerals, the largest publicly traded Indonesian mineral company. Mr. Farrell is also an Executive Director of Bumi Resources, Indonesia's largest listed coal mining company. Prior to joining Bumi Resources in 2002, Mr. Farrell worked for BHP Billiton for 21 years in various executive and managerial capacities in iron ore, transport, manganese and coal business units. He is a Member of the Institution of Engineers, Australia; a Member of The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Sharyn Gol, located north of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is a leading producer of high-grade thermal coal and sells to state-owned power stations, local cement factories, and other major wholesale as well as retail consumers.
Mogi: this is the version (in Mongolia) originally submitted. I believe it was slightly altered during parliament discussions but nothing significant or major. The approved version is now being prepared for publication, I expect it this week or next.
Draft Securities Market Law as Submitted to Parliament
January 10, 2013 (parliament.mn) --
Link to draft (in Mongolian)
Mongolia exchange seeks deeper ties with LSE
Altai Khangai, chief executive of MSE said it hoped to promote dual listings and create a "FTSE Mongolia" index, after Mongolia's new securities law, approved by parliament last week, paved the way for deeper collaboration with the LSE.
Mongolia has been working for years on modernising its capital markets to help develop its $12bn economy. Driven by vast resources of coal and copper, at the height of the commodities bull run the Mongolian Stock Exchange was among the best performing exchanges in the world, recording eye-popping growth of 121 per cent in 2010.
However MSE's Top 20 Index performed relatively poorly during the past two years as investor interest cooled in the face of slowing growth in the region. The Top 20 Index has fallen more than 20 per cent since the end of January.
Mr Altai said the new Securities Law, which takes effect on Jan 1, 2014, would "open up a new era of development in the capital markets in the country", making it easier for international investors to invest in Mongolia.
The exchange is tiny by global standards, with a total market capitalisation of about $1.3bn. Although 328 companies are listed, most are dormant shells left over from an earlier era of privatisation, and fewer than two dozen stocks are actively traded.
MSE started working with LSE in 2011, hiring the London group to advise on installing the Milllenium trading platform (Mogi: Millenium IT). The platform became operational in July last year, but liquidity problems remain and traders warn new securities law will not resolve these issues in the near term.
"It is a step in the right direction, but doesn't provide any immediate solutions to the lack of liquidity," said Eric Zurrin, director at Resource Investment Capital, the second-largest broker on the MSE.
MSE hopes more domestic companies will list as liquidity improves. Tavan Tolgoi, a state-owned coal mine, intended a dual listing on the MSE and LSE, but political wrangling has delayed plans.
Bill Gorman, MSE's former president and involved in advising on the securities law, said the delayed listing of Tavan Tolgoi had been a setback for the exchange, but he remained optimistic on the development of Mongolia's financial system.
"It won't be competing with London or New York, but can certainly set up a very viable market that would help Mongolian industry," he said.
An LSE spokesman added that the passage of the securities law was the "first and most important step toward giving access to Mongolia for international investors" and that shared trading technology would make closer co-operation possible in future.
Consolidated Balance Sheet of Banks, April 2013
May 28 (Bank of Mongolia) --
GoM issues ₮40 billion 28-week bonds at 10.05% with ₮89 billion
May 29 (Ministry of Finance) Total of 40.0 billion tugrik bills was announced to be sold on this auction, 40,000 quantities with 28 week maturity. Bids received totaled 89.0 billion tugriks and 40.0 billion tugrik bills were sold at weighted average rate of 10.05.
BoM issues 1-week bills
May 29 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 294.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 11.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM holds FX auction
May 30 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on May 30th, 2013 the BOM received from local commercial banks bid offers of 8.5 million USD and 47 million CNY and Forward agreement ask offer of 100 million USD. BOM has refused all the bid offers and accepted all the offers for forward agreement.
On May 30th, 2013, The BOM received MNT Swap agreement bid offer of 82 million USD from domestic commercial banks and BOM has sold 80 million USD for swap agreement.
IFC Invests in Mongolia's TenGer Financial Group, Advises XacBank on Gender and Sustainable Energy Financing
Ulaanbaatar, May 29, 2013 (IFC)—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, signed an investment agreement last week with Mongolia's TenGer Financial Group and two advisory agreements with its flagship subsidiary, XacBank, to expand financing to more women businesses and sustainable-energy projects.
The investment agreement will increase IFC's equity stake in TenGer Financial Group to 19 percent from 15 percent, while the advisory agreements will strengthen XacBank's capacity to serve smaller enterprises – many of which are run by women – and support climate-friendly energy projects in Mongolia as the country undergoes rapid economic development that would lead to increased energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions.
The sustainable energy financing agreement is forecast to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 37,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year and mobilize at least $40 million worth of loans to finance energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects in Mongolia.
"We have a long relationship with IFC and its expertise continues to help our bank adapt to market changes and boost our competitive edge," said Bold Magvan, chief executive officer of TenGer Financial Group. "The latest agreements will help us further improve our business portfolio and expand our lending to women-led businesses and climate-friendly projects."
Resource-rich Mongolia is one of the world's fastest-growing economies. According to the World Bank, the country's economy grew 12.3 percent in 2012 and is expected to maintain double-digit growth for the coming years. Such rapid economic development could have a negative impact on climate change and leave little room for smaller enterprises, particularly those run by women, to grow.
IFC has been working with TenGer Financial Group and its subsidiaries since 1999 and became a shareholder of the company in 2008. IFC and TenGer Financial Group jointly established a micro-credit company in western China to help expand access to finance to micro and small Chinese businesses.
"IFC is committed to Mongolia's sustainable development," said Hyun-Chan Cho, IFC's country manager for China, Mongolia and Korea. "Our continued partnership with TenGer Financial Group and XacBank showcases that promoting gender equality and sustainability is smart for business."
Mongolia: Economic growth must also include the poor, says UN expert
GENEVA, 28 May 2013 (OHCHR) – With rising inequality and entrenched poverty in rural and urban areas, the poorest sectors of Mongolian society have yet to benefit from the country's new found wealth, a United Nations expert on poverty says.
"While some are reaping the benefits of the current economic boom, the most vulnerable continue to struggle to make ends meet, with women and children often faring the worst," warned the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda.
"To ensure a future where everyone will benefit from Mongolia's economic growth, immediate action must be taken to implement poverty reduction strategies more effectively," the independent rights expert urged the authorities.
Recognizing the progress the country has made, she called on the State to concentrate on developing economic and social strategies aimed at ensuring enjoyment of human rights by all, including access to education, housing, health services and justice.
Ms. Sepúlveda's findings are drawn from a report* on the situation of persons living in extreme poverty in Mongolia which was presented today to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The report recognizes important steps already taken by the Government to implement poverty reduction measures and highlights a number of recommendations for consideration by all stakeholders.
"While I am encouraged by the Government's efforts to tackle poverty," the Special Rapporteur said, "I would urge the State to immediately address the increasing income gap between the rich and the poor, the lack of implementation in the legislation and develop as a matter of priority a national poverty reduction strategy based on human rights."
The human rights expert also urged the Mongolian authorities to continue its flight against corruption, emphasizing that corruption can seriously undermine the capacity of the State to fulfill its responsibilities, disproportionately affecting those living in poverty.
"Considering the large investment projects in the country particularly in the mining sector, it is essential for Mongolia to implement a zero tolerance policy against corruption and to establish a culture of accountability," she stressed.
Ms. Sepúlveda's report was developed on the basis of research and information gathered, including during a visit to the country from 3 to 7 December 2012.
During the five-day visit, the Special Rapporteur met with various Government representatives as well as a number of Government agencies and held meetings with the National Statistical Office, the National Human Rights Commission along with representatives from international organizations, donor agencies, financial institutions and a range of civil society organizations.
In addition, the independent expert visited communities living in poverty in the Erden soum of Tuv province, and Darieh and Unur areas from Bayanzurh and Somginokhairkhan districts in Ulaanbaatar.
Magdalena Sepúlveda (Chile) was appointed the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in May 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. She has extensive experience in economic, social and cultural rights and holds a PhD in international human rights law from Utrecht University. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/SRExtremePovertyIndex.aspx
(*) Check the full report on Mongolia: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session23/A-HRC-23-36-Add2_en.pdf or http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session23/Pages/ListReports.aspx
UN Human Rights, Country Page – Mongolia: http://www.ohchr.org/en/countries/asiaregion/pages/mnindex.aspx
Check the Special Rapporteur's "Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty" (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx
IFC hosts forum to help Mongolian banks improve competitiveness
May 28 (UB Post) The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group and Mongolia's Corporate Governance Development Center launched the sixth annual National Corporate Governance Forum in Ulaanbaatar on May 24, to discuss ways to enhance the performance and competitiveness of Mongolian banks.
More than 100 bank directors, managers, and government officials gathered at the forum to discuss good governance practices and international trends in the banking sector, as well as specific challenges faced by Mongolian banks in managing their rapid growth and related risks.
"Banks play a very important role in Mongolia's economic development," said Bold Javkhlan, first deputy governor of Central Bank of Mongolia. "Better corporate governance practices could help Mongolian banks increase efficiency, protect shareholder rights and improve their access to international capital markets."
With cooperation from IFC, the Mongolian parliament adopted a new company law in 2011 to strengthen the country's corporate governance regulations and improve transparency. IFC has been making investments in Mongolia's banking sector since 2002, when it first provided a loan to Xac Bank. Earlier this year, IFC provided 20 million USD to Khan Bank LLC to boost its small and medium enterprise lending.
"IFC is committed to the sustainable development of Mongolia's banking sector. We offer much-needed capital and advice at different stages of the industry's development," said Hyun-Chan Cho, IFC's country manager for China, Mongolia and Korea. "By partnering with the banks, we hope to introduce transparent and accountable business models for more Mongolian businesses to follow."
In partnership with Japan and the Netherlands, IFC's Mongolia Corporate Governance Program has organized training and consultations for more than 300 joint-stock companies and banks since 2009. IFC has been advising three Mongolian banks – Khan Bank, Xac Bank, and Capital Bank – on their corporate governance practices.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. In 2012, their investments reached more than 20 billion USD designated for the private sector, in IFC's effort to create jobs, spark innovation, and tackle the world's most pressing development challenges.
Golomt Bank's Executive Management Team issued a Statement
Golomt Bank's operation is running normal
Executive management team of Golomt Bank is separate from Bodi Group shareholders' dispute
May 23 (Golomt Bank) One of the founders of Bodi International LLC Mr. Bold Luvsanvandan, posted a letter addressed "To Mr. N. Zoljargal, the Governor of Bank of Mongolia" through his attorney, first on National Mail daily newspaper and then on his personal social network profile.
The Golomt Bank Executive Management Team hereby officially denies the allegations made in this letter which distorted the truth; therefore, tainting Golomt Bank's reputation as the leading Bank of Mongolia built by the trust of our loyal customers and the hard work of our more than 1,600 faithful employees throughout these past 18 years.
Instead of internally resolving the dispute between the shareholders of Bodi International LLC, it is most unfortunate that Mr. L. Bold has pulled Golomt Bank and its management team into their conflict, distributing baseless and misinterpreted information regarding Golomt Bank.
As of 23rd May, 2013 our total assets reached MNT 2.85 trillion, total deposits MNT 2 trillion, and equity of MNT 253 billion, occupying a share of 21% of the entire banking system of Mongolia alone. Through the years Golomt Bank has proven to be stable and reliable having excellent corporate governance practices, fully complying with all major Mongolian laws and regulations as well as the Bank of Mongolia's policies, standards and requirements. Golomt bank has strictly adhered to all international corporate governance norms for its day to day operations.
Golomt Bank's executive management team is working in full compliance of the Banking Law, the Company Law and implemented international governing principles in our relationship with our shareholders and Board members to this day. If it is deemed our executive management team is not operating in compliance with established rules and regulations and abusing their positions as it is stated in the letter, it is appropriate to have the matters resolved by court of law instead of circulating misleading information to the public.
Since beginning of the fiscal year there were three regular and extraordinary inspections by the Bank of Mongolia with the purpose of examining the nominated issues in the letter, and inspection results were concluded as stable. Additionally, an internationally reputable audit firm is engaged to perform audit and the management team and staff of Golomt Bank have been closely and transparently cooperating with them.
Our respected customers are assured that the misunderstanding and conflict between the founding partners will not cause any disruption for the united, proficient, and established Golomt Bank team to conduct normal operations.
EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT TEAM OF GOLOMT BANK
SHAREHOLDER EMPLOYEES OF GOLOMT BANK ISSUES A STATEMENT
May 23 (Golomt Bank) --
For the attention of BOLD Luvsanvandan, Founder and Shareholder of Bodi International LLC
We are utterly displeased by the open letter addressed to Mr. Zoljargal.N, Governor of the Bank of Mongolia from your attorney Sukhbaatar.Z on May 23, 2013.
We are the long-serving employees of Golomt Bank who purchased the shares with our accumulated wealth produced by many years of hard labor, dedication, and we bound our destiny with Golomt Bank.
On March 27, 2013 Mr Boldkhuyag.L, your brother and Chairman of the Board of Governors of Golomt Bank, sent a letter titled "TOP SECRET" to employees participating in the Employee Stock Option Program (ESOP) with the same content what the letter of your attorney states. Nevertheless, we have stayed patient regardless of your inappropriate actions and remained dedicated, confident, and faithful to keep the normal operations of our bank.
Furthermore, during your voluntary attendance at the ESOP employees' meeting held on 28 March, 2013, we openly expressed our opinions in details on issues raised in the letter. We warned you that spreading rumors and unsubstantiated information from unreliable sources, might not only taint our Bank's reputation but the banking system as a whole. We hope that you also remember the fact that we stood against your explicitly pressed proposal of forming a "Temporary Committee of Employees".
However, the letter that was published today severely damages interests of thousands of customers and employees of Golomt Bank and might cause damages to the stability of the Mongolian banking and financial system. We demand you to stop your unacceptable actions immediately.
Shareholder Employees of Golomt Bank of Mongolia
Mongolia can supply 30 years of its petroleum demand realizing its oil shale reserve
May 29 (Business-Mongolia.com) The Mongolian Oil Shale Association and senior officials of "Genie Oil Shale Mongolia" LLC made introductory presentation to the Standing Committee of Economy of SGK, on producing petroleum from oil shale. Mr. Harold Vinegar Ph.D., senior researcher at "Genie Oil Shale Mongolia" LLC, made presentation about the research work outcome of the company in the territory of Erdenesant and Lun soums of Tuv aimag.
He stated that the Mongolian oil shale quality is the highest in the world and its reserve is truly high (as high as USA and Israel). His company conducts mining business in two countries using environmentally sound technology. "This technology is similar to oil extraction process, drilling to the ground cone in the depth of the earth. This oil shale will be used to produce petroleum and diesel. The end production cost is cheaper than the petroleum we consume today, therefore, it is feasible." he continued.
After presentation of Mr. Harold Vinegar from "Genie Oil Shale Mongolia" LLC, Q&A session continued by Mr. Harold Vinegar, Mineral Minister D.Gankhuyag, Mr. Ulziiburen, Head of the Oil Authority and Mr. Da.Ganbold, Chairman of the Oil Shale Association.
MP N.Nomtoibayar: What is the main reason of doing this presentation to MPs? Does Mongolia need to improve its legal environment in order to mine oil shale?
Da.Ganbold: Because of the price of petroleum, we decided to extract and process oil shale. But just mining and refining is not enough. Therefore, we considered the technology that is offered by "Genie Oil Shale Mongolia" LLC. The reason of this presentation is that, during his visit to USA and Canada, Speaker Z.Enkhbold learned about the technology of this company and advised us to make presentation to certain officials and provide detailed information. Two days ago we made presentation to business community. Law on Oil is being amended and will be presented to the State Great Khural. How this amendment will regulate oil shale is your concern.
Harold Vinegar: Process and extraction technology will guide the issue where to belong or in which law to be regulated. If oil shale will be extracted and processed according to our technology, then Law on Oil shall regulate the related issue. Realizing oil shale will help Mongolia to supply its domestic need of petroleum, and even it can export its product. We think that oil shale reserve is even higher than coal reserve.
G.Ulziiburen: The Government made agreement with "Genie Oil Shale Mongolia" on research study. If Mongolia shall mine oil shale and extract, open tender bid will be announced and "product share agreement" will be signed.
MRAM signs MOU with French geological survey company BRGM
Ulaanbaatar, May 29 /MONTSAME/ The Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia signed a memorandum of cooperation with French Geological Survey /BRGM/ on May 28.
The document has been inked by D.Uuriintuya, a vice director of the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia, and by Jean-Francois Rocchi, the president of the BRGM.
Present at the ceremony were O.Erdenebulgan, the Vice Minister of Mining, several other officials, also Yves Delaunay, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the French Republic to Mongolia, and delegation of French geological survey.
Mr Erdenebulgan said that French geological experience is highly important "for us in establishing a geological office, in running mineral resources evaluation and creating their database, and in space researches".
The sides have agreed that the Mongolian cadres will be trained in France and that the French technology will be introduced here for geological researches, analysis and automation.
Mongolia has been cooperating with biggest companies of France in oil shale, uranium and capital market last 15 years. For example, the "Areva Mongolia" company has explored the world's largest uranium deposit in Ulaanbadrakh soum of Dornogobi province.
Soul mining in Mongolia
May 28 (Terrence Edwards, bne) Tamir and Byamba are two men under the age of 30 who live two sides of the Mongolian story. Tamir is a marketing professional working for an investment bank who was spending his Wednesday evening at the posh Sky Lounge on the 17th floor of Central Tower for a networking happy hour event. Byamba spent his afternoon the next day at a water pump, just two and a half kilometres from the prestigious Central Tower, to collect water for a household that lacks plumbing and electricity. Neither is sure if Mongolia is on the right track for its future.
Though he may live on meagre means compared with Tamir, Byamba exuded only dignity as he hoisted his water container off the ground, careful not to spill water on his pressed, white collared shirt. "We still have not benefited yet from mineral resources," says Byamba. "Our life is the same as it was 10 years ago." Byamba said that he's seen change in the form of new roads and high-rise buildings, but not in his life or that of his family's.
Tamir, too, couldn't say for sure his country had the right policies, but rather that was because of the instability the government has been creating recently. "At the moment the government is acting unpredictably," says Tamir, "and that's not really good for me or the independent companies working here."
With data showing 27.4% of Mongolians were still living in poverty in 2012, voters who think like Byamba are impatient to see some benefits from the rapid economic growth of recent years from the mining boom; the World Bank predicts 13% GDP growth for 2013. But those in Tamir's camp are worry that the government might be spoiling everything; 13% growth is something western nations would die for, but for Mongolia that's 3.2 percentage points lower than earlier projections due to falling commodity prices, slowing growth from China and the passage of legislation unfavourable to foreign investors.
The latter has reared its ugly head because of rising complaints that foreign investors are pilfering Mongolians' land and natural resources, encouraging some elected officials to try to impress voters by creating new hurdles for foreign companies and proposing new taxes that mining companies say would make it impossible to operate in the country profitably.
That has set the stage for the June 26 presidential election, with the winner facing enormous expectations, challenges and difficult decisions over his (or her) term of office.
The race is on
Though many investors have become increasingly disappointed with the turn Mongolia has been taking over the past year or so, the country is still on track for the launch of commercial exports from Oyu Tolgoi, which is destined to be one of the world's largest producing copper mines. Investors are also still looking forward to the public offering of the state-owned mining unit operating Mongolia's enormous Tavan Tolgoi coking coal project. And using the funds from a $1.5bn bond offering sold last year, the country is prepared to build extensive road and rail networks that are certain to spur even more growth from the resulting boom in trade with China. "Previous presidents never dealt with billion-dollar projects before," says Otgonshar Nagi, vice president of Ulaanbaatar's Resource Investment Capital. "Mongolia is heading towards a development phase where it is seeing significant projects heading its way."
The main contest will be between the current president and favourite, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, and the opposition Mongolian People's Party's (MPP) celebrity wrestler candidate, Badmaanyambuu Bat-Erdene.
Elbegdorj is regarded as one of the founders of Mongolian democracy, someone who rallied the public to demand a new, democratic government in 1990. He is also one of Mongolia's educated elite, having worked as a journalist and political activist in his youth before entering politics, and claims Harvard University as his alma mater. He is also likely to be the candidate that investors will be cheering on.
Elbegdorj's Democratic Party, which heads the current coalition government, in April managed to steer through parliament an amendment to the controversial foreign investment law of last year, which should allow over 100 pending investment deals to now progress. The Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL) was rushed through parliament in May 2012 as protests grew about the increasing foreign (read: Chinese) control over the country's vast mineral wealth. But the wide-ranging nature of the law caused investment to fall through the floor as international investors felt the law was designed to deter all foreign participation in the economy. The amendment is a step in the right direction, though many investors argue the law is still too unclear to move forward with investment.
Bat-Erdene, on the other hand, is known for his highly critical position toward foreign investment. Bat-Erdene's celebrity factor is an important element to his campaign, as wrestling is an important facet of Mongolian culture and its champions are adored nationwide. So much does the nation prize its top athletes, the government bestows relatively large monthly cash allowances to winners of national and international athletic competitions.
Bat-Erdene's most notable political feat to date was his introduction of 2009's "Law To Limit and Prohibit Mineral Exploration and Mining Operations at the Headwaters of Rivers, Protected Zones of Water Reservoirs and Forested Areas" (cheekily dubbed by Mongolia's media as "The Long Name Law"). The law's name might be convoluted, but it quickly interfered with the operations of both domestic and foreign firms such as Toronto-listed Centerra Gold. The gold miner, which also operates its Kumtor mine in Kyrgyzstan, was looking towards shutting down its current Boroo mine and replacing it with another in Mongolia, the Gatsuurt gold project, but Bat-Erdene's law has prevented it from getting permission to do so. "If this former wrestler wins, it'll be reason enough for investors to re-evaluate all their options," argues Nagi.
One other contender has stepped into the fray. Natsag Udval – who currently serves as health minister as a member of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), a junior member of the governing coalition – is particularly notable as the country's first female candidate to run for president. She is also regarded as the proxy vote for incarcerated former president Nambar Enkhbayar. In March 2012, Mongolia witnessed Enkhbayar's dramatic arrest on corruption charges, during which he was seen slinking outside a family member's apartment with his head down and barefoot.
The arrest, coming as it did before the 2012 parliamentary election, was inevitably labelled political by his supporters, who have taken up countless protests since. The most visible demonstration was during a meeting of the Community of Democracies in April, when Enkhbayar's sympathisers appeared before the delegates from around the world, who were attending in support of emerging democracies, waving signs and shouting slogans that Mongolia's democracy was a lie.
Enkhbayar still remains the MPRP leader, and has been a vocal proponent of the nationalisation of Mongolia's mines. Given the former president's continued influence and the similarities in the rhetoric of the two parties – the MPRP is made up of politicians who broke away from the MPP – it's entirely conceivable that Enkhbayar's supporters will cast their votes for Udval instead of Bat-Erdene. "Both parties share the same electorate, and there could be a part of the MPP voters who will vote for Ms Udval," says Luvsanvandan Sumati, director of the Sant Maral Foundation, which released a survey recently looking at Mongolians' political preferences.
There's little polling data available in Mongolia, so that report from the Sant Maral Foundation – released in April before Elbegdorj's opponents were announced – offers some clues as to how the election will go. The most relevant question asked was who would make the best president for Mongolia: 19.2% named Elbegdorj, while just 2.2% said Bat-Erdene. Although Bat-Erdene and Elbegdorj were not directly compared in the question (respondents were asked to fill in a name rather than choose from a list), Sumati still thinks the data gives strong indications about the electorate's intentions. "[Elbegdorj] has a much better chance than the two others," reckons Sumati. "If he doesn't make a mistake, he should win without problem."
A win in the first round would require 50% of the electorate plus one vote. In the event no candidate achieves that, a runoff vote will be scheduled.
Many Mongolians cheered as the government made the business climate more difficult for foreign investors, and some argue Mongolia is better off without them. However, Tamir, sipping a draught beer in the swanky bar, disagrees that foreign business has brought little in the way of benefits to Mongolia. "Right now there are a lot more international companies like Anglo American, Rio Tinto and PwC," he says. "They're creating jobs and improving the standards of how business is run. In those means, of course it is benefiting the Mongolian economy."
Run-off Is Unlikely
May 28 (Mendee Jargalsaikhan, Mongolia Focus) Politics in Mongolia is always interesting, dynamic, and puzzling – especially, towards elections. I like to challenge Julian's earlier post about the potential for a run-off in the presidential election and argue that the incumbent has a strong likelihood of winning outright; therefore, runoff is unlikely.
First, President Elbegdorj, despite the small margin of victory over the MPP candidate in 2009, still leads the public opinion polls – regarded one of the strongest politicians. Of course, with doubts in public opinion polls (without clear understanding of their methodology and degree of objectiveness), Elbegdorj appears to hold a relatively high ratings.
Second, Elbegdorj didn't made any visible mistakes in last four years. His attempts to strengthen the mining regime, to increase public participation in the policy-making processes (e.g., Citizen's Hall), to advocate the devolution of power to locality, to discourage alcohol consumptions, and to promote Mongolia's international image (e.g., extensive travels, visibility in foreign media and forums) were important contributions to our democracy, governance, and sovereignty.
Third, his critical approach to the MPP-led government was appealing. However, as the election nears, he seems to be caught up in constraints of the current political and economic structures. He became noticeably silent about questionable behaviours of his former party (technically, he must be politically neutral when he is holding the power of presidency). On these three points, he would easily get enough votes to secure his second term.
DP Dominance of the Political Structure
Then, there are reasonable beliefs about the DP dominance in the political structure – which provides protection at minimum and support at maximum. Clearly, the DP is not playing by key governance principles (e.g., rule of law, transparency, equal opportunity). Following the MPRP's 'winner take all' principle of 2000, the DP has already used similar tactics. Now we see repeated pattern of 'winner take all' from the DP take-over in 1996, the MPRP in 2000, and now in 2012.
First, the DP and its coalition didn't consult with other political actors and public when changing the key electoral laws (Law on Local Elections and importantly, Law on the Presidential Election).
Second, the DP now took over all key agencies in charge of organizing, monitoring, and enforcing the elections. DP-affilliated politicians are now heading the General Election Commission, the Police Department, the General Intelligence Agency, and Chief Prosector's Office. The DP has already taken over key state-owned enterprises and financial institutions. All these institutions, in principle, should be politically neutral and professionally administered.
Third, the majority of provinces are now lead by the DP-affilliated politicians. Although it is difficult to know how much influence these DP-affilliated politicians are asserting at the local level, the likelihood is very high when one looks at behaviours of the DP politicians in the national government.
With his own mostly positive profile of the last four years and the DP's dominance in domestic politics, Elbegdorj is likely to win a second term presidency; therefore, run-off appears to be unlikely – especially, when the economy is enjoying growth and bonds.
Jargalsaikhan Mendee, a graduate student of the Political Science Department of the University of British Columbia
Mongolia's Presidential Election Could Be Pivotal for Balancing Future Growth
May 30 (World Politics Review) On June 26, Mongolians will go to the polls to elect their next president, with incumbent Tsakhia Elbegdorj predicted to return to office with a renewed mandate. His principal challenge comes from B. Bat-Erdene, who maintains a strong base of populist support in Mongolia's rural areas. The third candidate, Natsag Udval, is a staunch supporter of former President Nambar Enkybayar, currently serving a two-and-a-half year jail term on corruption charges. According to Julian Dierkes, a Mongolia expert at the University of British Colombia, Udval is unlikely to gain more than 5 percent of the vote, but her candidacy is noteworthy for her being the first woman to run for president in Mongolia. Elbegdorj, who has heralded Mongolia's successful transition to democracy as a model for a region flush with corrupt kleptocrats, is likely to secure much of the urban vote in Ulan Bator as well as garnering support from the business community.
The election's outcome will have significant international implications. In 2011, Mongolia became the fastest-growing economy in the world, with 17.3 percent GDP growth (Mogi: revised up to 17.5%) as estimated by the World Bank. Mongolia's mining and resource sectors, which are the main drivers of the boom, have attracted foreign investors to Ulan Bator with hopes of securing lucrative development contracts. However, this growth remains uncertain due to Mongolia's overdependence on the global commodity market. Mongolia has not yet managed to mature its financial investments to diversify and spread its risk across markets. Moreover, the government in Ulan Bator still has a considerable amount of work to do before it sufficiently assuages the concerns of Western investors about rampant corruption and pegged contracts.
Thus far, Elbegdorj has been able to balance Mongolia's desire to woo investors with legitimate concerns about the possibility of Mongolia's becoming a mineral state. During his first term, he guided Ulan Bator's diplomatic push to enhance ties with both of Mongolia's immediate neighbors, China and Russia, as well as with foreign markets in Europe and North America. And he has taken steps over the past few months to ease rigid rules that restricted foreign companies' ability to develop Mongolia's mining assets.
But his foreign policy vision seems to be increasingly about diversity, both thematically and regionally, in order to shake Mongolia's reputation as a "mineral state in Asia." Last year, during an interview with the Mongolian press, he noted that "the Mongolian economy mostly has one color, and we would like to make this a rainbow economy. I have a message to our investors: Don't see Mongolia as only mines. There are great opportunities in investing in other sectors."
Elbegdorj's efforts to open Mongolia's mining sector have not gone unopposed. Erdene (Mogi: Bat-Erdene please) was active in promoting legislation that prohibited mining activities in Mongolia's water basins and green areas. Dierkes has noted that the legislation, "while clearly important and well-intentioned, has caused controversy for the implied expropriation of previously granted licenses . . . and for the risk or perceived reality of an uneven application of restrictions that gives rise to corruption." Mongolia will have to do more to align its laws and regulations with the expectations of foreign investors in order to safeguard investments, even as the government seeks to protect the country from the environmental consequences of mining. While Elbegdorj also argues that Mongolia should not allow foreign firms to wrest away national resources, he has cautioned against "resource nationalism" and taken a strong stance on corruption.
June's election could go a long way toward deciding these political battles. One litmus test for the next president will be the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine in Mongolia's southern Gobi desert. Tavan Tolgoi represents one of Mongolia's most important enticements to foreign investors, as it is believed to contain the world's largest undeveloped coking-coal deposit. A trilateral consortium of Chinese, Russian-Mongolian and American companies was awarded the license to jointly develop the mine in July 2011, but government officials in Ulan Bator stalled on implementing their decision after Japanese and South Korean companies protested that the bidding process had been unfair.
The election may be a game-changer for this project. The urgency has never been greater for Mongolia to root out the kind of corruption that marred the Tavan Tolgoi tender. But Ulan Bator is also under considerable pressure to boost revenue from its mining sector and faces the looming threat of a credit downgrade if it continues to stall the development of Tavan Tolgoi. According to Reuters, Standard & Poor's downgraded its appraisal of Mongolia to "negative" from "stable" in April, and forecast potential for a worse rating if current trends continued. International investors have also become increasingly concerned that the Mongolian economy is at risk of overheating and overexposed to the commodities market, especially in light of the World Bank's updated 2013 GDP forecast, which trimmed Mongolia's growth from 16.2 percent to 13 percent.
Despite his desire to keep Mongolia from becoming a mining vassal, it is likely that Elbegdorj, if re-elected, will push for a quick resolution of the Tavan Tolgoi mine issue by pressing for an endgame to the long-stalled and reopened bidding process. While the trilateral consortium deal may get a facelift, Elbegdorj will likely be careful not to exclude any of the main parties in any newly approved bid. His challengers may have different agendas in mind. B. Bat-Erdene has repeatedly campaigned on Mongolian ownership and maintenance of its own resources. Udval would likely maintain Enkybayar's previous line that the mines should stay in local hands.
As a result, June 26 will be another pivotal day in the history of Mongolia's young democracy. While the Central Asian country continues to be a growth engine in Central Asia, it risks overplaying its hand through cronyism and seeping nationalism on its mining resources. Amid a cooling economic climate, the next leader will need to focus his or her efforts on re-establishing the trust of foreign investors.
Jonathan Berkshire Miller is a Sasakawa Peace Foundation fellow on Japan for the Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum.
Elbegdorj visits Shivee Ovoo coal mine
May 28 (UB Post) The President of Mongolia and incumbent candidate for the presidential election, Ts.Elbegdorj, visited Shivee Ovoo soum in Dornogobi Province, 260 kilometers south-east of Ulaanbaatar, and made a campaign promise to be attentive to the issues facing its water reserve.
Shivee Ovoo soum is a well-known soum in Mongolia, as its Shivee Ovoo coal mine supplies the majority of thermal coal to the Power Plant No.4, producer of more than 60 percent of the nation's electric power.
Soum residents and miners stressed the severity of the Gobi region's water reserve issues to the President during his visit. They shared thoughts and views about the challenges and ways they can be resolved.
Although water diversion projects such as the Kherlen-Gobi project were introduced to restore the Gobi's water reserve, progress has not been made. The president provided an update on the Orkhon-Gobi diversion project and suggested that there are many ways to resolve the issues in the Gobi desert.
Most of the rivers in Mongolia flow out of the country, and each year the country's water reserve decreases. It is said that the Kherlen River supplies five large water reserves in China. Plans to replenish the Gobi's water reserve all include an attempt to accumulate at least 30 percent of river water flowing out, and forming a channel to provide Gobi residents with a sustainable water supply.
The president noted that instead of letting the rivers run dry, it is possible to form water basins that will replenish the desert regions in the summer, when water use levels are at their highest. Ts.Elbegdorj promised to work towards implementing this project.
During the meeting with the president, Shivee Ovoo's Head of the Mining Department, N.Amgalan, asked about the president's position on the Shivee Ovoo's mining license issues.
The president responded, "I consider it a fraud to reissue a prospecting license to a mine whose reserve has been approved by the state budget."
"I, who have resigned from the office of Prime Minister twice to fight corruption, know the destruction and damage corruption can cause. I also know how to fight it. You have all seen how I [felt about] the corruption scandal at MIAT, which is proof of my fight against corruption," said the President. "Fighting corruption isn't easy. The Shivee Ovoo mine's reserve has been approved at 2.5 billion tons of coal, to tell people to reset the reserve and reissue a prospecting licence is an example of fraud. To stop this, I am dedicating all my power and knowledge. Much time is needed. In the next four years, a significant amount of time will be devoted to fighting corruption."
Two more political parties support incumbent in the election
May 29 (news.mn) Two political parties of Mongolia, the Mongolian Conservative Party (MCP) (Mogi: it's actually the Mongolian Republican Party) and the Motherland Party (MP) announced their support of the incumbent Ts.Elbegdorj in the Presidential Election. They signed an agreement with Democratic Party (DP) at Government House to promote the DP candidacy during the election campaign on May 29th.
The agreement was signed by the leader of DP N.Altankhuyag, the leader of MCP, B.Jargalsaikhan and the leader of MP B.Erdenebat.
These two party leaders stated they would support President Ts.Elbegdorj, believing he would stand up for all Mongolians, maintain implacable policies of new development to lead the country to prosperity and social and economical growth.
The Mongolian National Democratic Party and Civil Will Green Party have already announced their support of the DP candidacy in the election.
Former National Wrestling Champion A. Sukhbat joins DP
May 30 (news.mn) The National Wrestling Champion A.Sukhbat announced on Wednesday that he was joining the Democratic Party and had received a certificate of DP membership in the Headquarter of DP. The Minister of Industry and Agriculture, MP and Chairman of the Mongolian Democratic Union Kh. Battulga presented A.Sukhbat with a membership certificate. A.Sukhbat spoken to our journalist about it.
-Just a few days ago former Sumo Grand Champion D.Dagvadorj joined DP. Now you have joined DP. What is your intention in becoming a DP member?
I had chosen to support Democracy and respect the principles when I was young, two decades ago. I think President Ts.Elbegdorj, who is being promoted by DP in the Presidential Election, is the best politician who has been in charge of a high ranking position for the country. He is a person who can take a lot. So I made my decision to support the President for the election. I think Mongolians should let him make good changes for Mongolia and see what he can do.
-Now you have started your political career by joining DP. Do you have a say on any urgent problems that you wish to be paid attention to?
There are a number of issues. Firstly the law on the National celebration of Naadam needs an amendment. This is not an issue of only wrestlers. We should focus to protect the rights of jockey-children and health issues.
There is also the issue of the development of local areas. For instance Sergelen sum in Tuv aimag is located only 60 km away from the City but the infrastructure is still weak there. There is no change.
I think such issues need to be raised. I am a trainer coach and also an enterpriser like an ordinary person. But now I have decided to speak up for my country by doing my best. So I joined with people who have the same intentions.
Dechert: Recent changes to Mongolia's foreign investment laws: opportunities and challenges for foreign investors
May 29 (Dechert LLP) Driven by its vast abundance of coal, copper, iron ore, gold and uranium (to name a few), Mongolia is forecast to have the world's fastest growth rate in 2013, at 12% of GDP—a figure Western economies can only dream of in the long shadow of the global and euro financial crises. Its proximity to China also affords Mongolia considerable cost advantages against other major commodities suppliers such as Australia and Brazil.
It is no wonder then that foreign investors have been flocking to Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator, which now hosts some of the world's largest and most important natural resources players.
Over the past twelve months, however, the Mongolian Government has proposed a number of changes to the legal framework affecting foreign investors that have caused some unease. These include the recent publication of a draft minerals law ("DML") and the foreign investment law put in place in May 2012 (the Regulation of Foreign Investment in Business Entities Operating in Sectors of Strategic Importance ("SSI Regulation"). But in an effort to appease investors, the Mongolian Government has recently taken steps to address some of these concerns. On 15 April 2013, Mongolia's Parliament amended the controversial SSI Regulation, in a move that commentators suggest may allow over 100 pending Mongolian investment deals to now progress.
In this OnPoint our Energy & Natural Resources and International Arbitration lawyers take a look at recent changes affecting foreign investors in Mongolia. We then provide some practical suggestions to aid foreign investors navigate the opportunities and challenges presented in rapidly developing markets such as Mongolia.
Recent Changes Affecting Foreign Investors in Mongolia
April 2013 Amendment to the SSI Regulation
In a move that will encourage foreign investors, in mid-April 2013, the Mongolian Parliament passed into law, amendments to the controversial SSI Regulation of May 2012.
The SSI Regulation
The SSI Regulation was a response to Chinese state-controlled Chalco's US$1bn bid for a majority stake in Mongolian coal producer SouthGobi Resources, which was seen as a strategically important company. The Mongolian Government was concerned to control the transfer of such strategic assets (particularly in cases where the prospective acquirer was another state or a foreign state-owned entity).
The SSI Regulation required inter alia:
Ø Parliamentary approval if a foreign investor was to acquire more than 49% of a Mongolian company operating in a sector of strategic importance if the stake to be acquired was valued greater than 100 billion Mongolian tughriks (around US$70 million).
Ø Approval by the Cabinet, or the Ministry of Economic Development, would be required for stakes above 33% or where a foreign investor would control the business or the business affected the pricing of mining raw materials or exports.
Sectors of strategic importance identified by the SSI Regulation included the mining, banking and finance, telecommunications and media sectors. The SSI Regulation applied to all foreign investors, not just those controlled by foreign state interests.
Ever since its inception, however, the SSI Regulation has been widely criticized by the international business community as a barrier to foreign investment, and responsible for holding up significant foreign direct investment into Mongolia. Changes have been rumored over recent months.
April 2013 SSI Regulation
Reflecting these concerns, it is now reported that an amendment to the SSI Regulation was passed by the Mongolian Parliament on 15 April 2013. Most significantly:
Ø Parliamentary approval is no longer required for the purchase of equity in a company operating in a sector of strategic importance, provided the acquirer is privately-owned (private foreign investors will still require approval from the Mongolian Cabinet or the Ministry of Economic Development for proposed acquisitions in sectors of strategic importance where the foreign investor would acquire more than 33% equity, or where the foreign investor would control the business or could affect the pricing of mining raw materials or exports).
Ø The restrictions on foreign state-owned entities acquiring a 49% or greater interest in a company operating in a sector of strategic importance have been tightened. Parliamentary approval of all such proposed acquisitions is now required, regardless of the value of the proposed stake (the 100 billion Mongolian tughriks threshold has been removed).
While these changes will be welcomed by private foreign investors, some finer details and an understanding of how the SSI Regulation will be implemented in practice remain unclear. Implementing regulations are yet to be finalized and some uncertainty remains as to the scope and application of the SSI Regulations and the recent amendments. For example:
Ø The exact scope of the definition of "strategically important sector", currently construed expansively by the Mongolian authorities, remains to be determined.
Ø There is no definition of what constitutes a foreign state-owned enterprise.
Ø Other important aspects of the SSI Regulations, such as the degree to which foreign management control may trigger the approval process and the extraterritorial application of the SSI Regulations on foreign transactions, remain uncertain.
Notwithstanding these uncertainties, the Government's support for further investment in strategically important sectors is clear. Investors should also recall that Mongolia has some history of introducing legislation only to repeal or suspend its implementation when adverse affects on the Mongolian economy are identified (in one recent example, a windfall profits tax enacted in 2006, and which imposed a 68% tax on revenues derived from commodities, was effectively repealed on 1 January 2011).
With commentators suggesting the amendments to the SSI Regulation may allow over 100 pending Mongolian investment deals to now progress, we will be monitoring developments with interest and reporting on any further changes.
The Draft Minerals Law
While the SSI Regulation has caused concern and uncertainty, it is the DML which has drawn the strongest reactions from the international business community.
Broadly, it is reported that the proposed articles of the DML allow the Mongolian Government to compulsorily acquire mines and licenses from an investor with an obligation to compensate it only for actual expenditures incurred. International investors would not be entitled to exclusively own and operate mining projects and would have to partner with local actors. The key terms of the DML are:
Ø Holders of prospecting, exploration and processing licenses relating to areas other than the special border zones must be Mongolian-incorporated entities (including foreign invested entities).
Ø Not less than 34% of the equity in a foreign-invested mining license holder must be held by a Mongolian citizen.
Ø The local equity participation requirement increases to a minimum of 51% where the mineral deposit was discovered by means of state-funded exploration.
Ø As it is currently drafted, the DLM is retroactive. There are no grandfathering provisions or guidelines regarding any transition periods, and license holders are unsure whether they must re-register their licenses or resubmit plans and reports, whether the duration of their licenses will be modified, etc.
If passed into law in its current form, the DML is likely to trigger renegotiations of past investments and financing conditions, which would ultimately affect the entire Mongolian economy.
The status of the DML remains extremely uncertain, however. While some commentators suggest that the DML may be adopted before the forthcoming Presidential election in June 2013, there have been indictations that the adoption of the DML by the Mongolian Parliament could be delayed until after the Presidential election to enable further dialogue with the mining industry.
We will be monitoring the passage of the DML, and reporting on progress.
Navigating Uncertain Environments in Foreign Markets
So what can international investors do to protect their investments in the face of evolving economic and political policies, whether in Mongolia or elsewhere? We offer some practical suggestions.
Sufficient planning usually allows for appropriate and timely responses to difficulties:
Ø Consider the nature of your local partner/target. Is your counterparty a private company or state-owned entity ("SOE")? How has your proposed partner treated its other business partners?
Ø Identify potential regulatory risk areas. Is governmental approval required? Are there foreign ownership limits? How are domestic regulatory agencies interpreting and applying rules that may impact your business?
Ø Understand the domestic interests in your industry. The more your business understands domestic political influences, the better placed you will be to identify future risks and plan for them.
Ø Have you negotiated contractual mechanisms to respond to changes during the life of your investment? These might include: mechanisms to deal with changes in commodity prices and/or cost inputs; legal and/or economic stability provisions; put/call options and/or forced buy-out mechanisms with defined valuation methodologies.
Ø Does your investment enjoy the benefits and protection of a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between Mongolia and your home country? Have you structured your investment to ensure application of that BIT? Is your business maximizing enjoyment of the benefits the BIT provides?
Ø Do you have an exit strategy? This may involve negotiating a contractual exit mechanism.
Staying informed of developments within the government and industry will help your business anticipate potential changes that may impact its operations:
Ø Have a local team of trusted advisors in place (local advisors, counsel, public relations, etc.).
Ø Make regular visits on the ground to build relationships with local partners, and to become accustomed to local market conditions and specificities.
Ø Follow closely local political and commercial developments having the potential to affect your business.
Ø Always maintain a negotiating stance: negotiation does not stop when contract is signed.
Be Prepared to Adapt
Be prepared to adapt in the event of changes:
Ø Does your contract include mechanisms to deal with change?
Ø In the event of a dispute do you have the ability to turn to a neutral and independent dispute resolution mechanism such as international arbitration?
Ø Does your business have a practical way to implement an exit strategy? (put and call option agreement, forced buy-out, contractual valuation mechanism, etc.).
As with any business strategy, planning for potential challenges and how you will adapt to them can assist in averting or minimizing the risks associated with a continually evolving global economic landscape.
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Yum Plans to Open 15 KFC Restaurants in Mongolia Within 5 Years
May 30 (Bloomberg) Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM) plans to open a total of 15 KFC restaurants within five years in Mongolia, where mutton has long been the local staple and chicken was considered a rare treat until recently.
Ulaanbaatar-based Tavan Bogd Group, Yum's partner in the North Asian country and whose businesses include distributing Volkswagen AG (VOW) cars, plans to open three more outlets in the capital by the end of this year, it said in a statement.
"We like to go into markets where no one has been before because we get the first mover advantage," Micky Pant, head of Yum's international business, said in an interview yesterday at the opening of its first restaurant in the country. "Mongolia has a very strong economy. We feel the timing is right."
The Louisville, Kentucky-based restaurant chain, whose logo features the image of founder Colonel Harland Sanders, is entering the North Asian country as commodity mining and investment drive the nation's development. Mongolia's economy is forecast to expand 13 percent this year, according to World Bank estimates.
Pant said the restaurant will serve standard KFC items to start and later introduce new items to cater to the local diet, which is largely based on meat and milk products.
"Chicken is growing because people are switching from red to white meats, so I feel confident it will grow here in the future," Pant said.
Yum's opening of the Mongolia outlet comes after sales at stores open at least 12 months fell 29 percent in China last month as customers remained concerned about the safety of its chicken and the spread of bird flu hurt demand.
The fast-food chain sources its meat in Mongolia from countries such as Japan and the U.S. and plans to source its meat from Mongolia in two years.
Yum plans to enter the Myanmar market in future, Pant said without giving a timeline.
Yum! Brands' Extends KFC Original Recipe Eleven Herbs and Spices to Mongolia – Yum! Brands, May 29
KFC Opens In Mongolia As The Nation's First Ever Western Fast Food Chain – Huffington Post, May 29 (Mogi: definitely not the first, Kenny Rogers came and left, mmmm, what else?)
Chicken Madness: KFC Opens Restaurant in Mongolia
May 30 (Bloomberg) -- Muktesh "Micky" Pant, CEO of Yum Restaurants International, sat down with Bloomberg's Todd Baer to discuss the opening of the first KFC in Mongolia and the challenges of doing business in Asia.
Keeping a cool head - how Benoy is helping to shape the new Mongolia
May 29 (Global Trader) It's good to be hot in your job and cool under pressure, but for one leading British architectural and design firm the temperature gauge swung a staggering amount in the search for business.
When Benoy, which employs a team of 500 worldwide, was finalising the deal to help design the swankiest new building in Mongolia, its Far East delegation went from the 35°C of Kuala Lumpur to the -35°C of Ulaanbaatar, the world's coldest capital city, within 24 hours.
"Coming from sub-tropical heat to such a freezing climate is some experience and we were very grateful to have packed plenty of woollies," says John Denton, who leads the interior design team for Benoy in Asia, about the city which makes Moscow and Ottawa seem balmy by comparison.
In the spring, Benoy, which is headquartered in the UK and has studios in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Mumbai and Newark, picked up a second successive Queen's Award for Enterprise thanks to its international trade success, especially in emerging markets such as India, China – and now Mongolia.
The company has been appointed as the interior designers for the entrance lobby, residential apartments and the private leisure clubhouse at the Olympic Residence, a high-rise, multi-use development in the centre of the city, and John believes that work in China swayed the deal.
"Our client had seen our recent EAST Hotel projects in Beijing, which they really liked - this was our best advertisement in order to be selected for the job," says John, 47, who joined Benoy's Hong Kong office in 2005 and became a director two years later.
John, who enjoys property development in his spare time – he is currently completing the renovation of a 350-year-old Grade 2 listed country house in Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – adds: "Benoy has an extensive record of working globally in new locations.
"The local culture is very important to the destinations we create and each project we work on is specifically designed for its own unique local region and characteristics, adding genuine personality to our designs."
Now John sees the Ulaanbaatar project as the springboard for a great adventure in the country, believing it is an 'exciting time' for Mongolia and Benoy, which was founded in the village of Collingham in 1947.
"As Mongolia is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, we are confident that this will be just the start of our involvement in the country, along with other British firms.
"We are already speaking to other developers with enquires in Mongolia. They are still a little cautious, so things are moving a little bit slowly, but we are confident that the Olympic Residence will be a reference project for our continued success in the region."
And Benoy – along with every other consultant – will be able to start with a relatively blank canvas, as Mongolia's cityscapes have a long way to catch up the pace of development in the oil, gas and minerals industries, which are generating much of the wealth.
"In Mongolia the building industry is still in its infancy - contractors are not yet as experienced as those we are used to working with across other Asian cities like Beijing," says John.
"It was only until recently that the tallest buildings found in Ulaanbaatar were only five-storeys high, so the building industry still has a way to go, which is often reflected in the on-site building conditions that we find and that makes some creative planning necessary."
John - who has been responsible for the design of complex projects, including Elements Mall Hong Kong, ION Orchard Singapore, Seoul IFC, EAST Hotel Beijing, IFC Pudong, iAPM Shanghai, Plaza 889 Shanghai, China World Beijing and Holiday Inn Hanoi - points out that although traditional Mongolian design is heavily influenced by Russian and also Chinese styles, the Olympic Residence concept caters for the specific expat market.
"But it still has a sense of place to the location," he says. "In design we have used a more open-plan concept for the apartment. Each area has been carefully positioned to maximise natural lighting as well as taking advantage of the external landscape view of Bogd Khan Mountain.
"With the interior we have incorporated rich textures and colours to create a warm and welcoming environment as needed in this location."
The development is backed by the Asia Pacific Investment Partners, and John praises their 'strong vision'.
"APIP are one of the leading property developers in the country, so we relish this opportunity to build a strong partnership," says John, who was fascinated on his first trip to Mongolia over 20 years ago by the pervading image of the country's most famous ever citizen, the marauding conqueror Genghis Khan.
"He is everywhere and far from taboo," he says. "Khan dominates the city. The main street is named after him, there is also a series of very large monuments to him that are main tourist magnets in Ulaanbaatar; a lot of bars and restaurants carry his name and, of course, he is the main character in any souvenir shop - mugs, fridge magnets, towels, you name it."
Benoy, of course, has a major fingerprint on the domestic architectural landscape too, such as Bluewater in Kent, the Bullring in Birmingham and Westfield, London.
But the privately-owned firm now sees some 70% of its business realised overseas with schemes such as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Graham Cartledge CBE, chairman of Benoy, says: "We are honoured and delighted to be presented with this most prestigious of British business awards and be recognised for a second time is an incredible achievement for the entire team. The Award is granted for a five year period and so reflects the judges' confidence in the winning company.
"The world has changed dramatically in recent years and the economic landscape remains unpredictable, but our resolve and determination have enabled us to succeed where others have not been so fortunate.
"We continue to enjoy great success in what some may describe as the more 'traditional' markets, but also actively seek pockets of opportunity in areas that are new, at least to Benoy, such as Belarus, Burma, Mexico, Peru and Mongolia. Our pioneering spirit has allowed us to establish new partnerships and forge new friendships in the global marketplace."
"Our ability to marry imagination with realism, underpinned by a real respect for local culture, environment and history, continues to be a winning formula around the world."
Mongolia Agriculture Development Project begins
May (The University of Queensland) Centre for Communication and Social Change Co-director Associate Professor Elske van de Fliert has begun work on a project in Mongolia that aims at developing a framework for and building communication skills of the Mongolian agricultural extension and service system to more effectively facilitate climate change adaptation in the livestock sector.
The project, entitled Building the capacity of public extension services to effectively facilitate climate change adaptation in the livestock sector, will bring conceptual innovations on agricultural extension and rural development model.
From a study tour for Mongolian counterparts to Australia, training workshops and field monitoring in Mongolia and a final evaluation, Elske will work alongside Associate Professor Jim Cavaye from the UQ School of Agriculture and Food Science, CfCSC affiliate Dr Erdenebolor Baast of the Mongolian University of Agriculture, and CfCSC PhD student Mr Grady Walker.
The project closes in June 2014.
Workers of Petro China on strike over pay
May 28 (news.mn) Mongolian workers of Petro China Daqing Tamsag have been on strike demanding two requirements; a salary increase and a better working environment since Saturday May 25th.
Representatives of workers and Directors of the 100 percent Chinese owned Petro China Daqing Tamsag are to sit at the negotiation table together to resolve the issues on Tuesday May 28th. So Mongolian workers have temporally suspended the strike.
Mongolian workers of Petro China Daqing Tamsag earn 350-400 thousand MNT monthly while Chinese workers are paid a higher salary. The salary issue of Chinese workers is classified as a secret profile of the company.
Mongolian workers of the company have been raising the issues of a salary increase and better working conditions since April 2012.
But the company hesitated to answer the workers and delayed the issue claiming the Chinese investors were working on the issue to resolve the problem.
The Ministry of Mining announced that workers representatives will sit at the negotiation table on Tuesday May 28th to reach a compromise.
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Belarus invited to develop Mongolia's mineral deposits
MINSK, 30 May (BelTA) – Mongolia invites Belarus to develop its mineral deposits, Deputy Foreign Minister of Mongolia Damba Gankhuyag told media on 30 May.
Mongolia is rich in mineral resources and ready to offer Belarusian companies an opportunity to partake in their development. "We can invite Belarusian companies to invest in such projects and do business in Mongolia," the Mongolian official said.
Mongolia also sees prospects in developing cooperation with Belarus in mechanical engineering and agriculture. "We would like to invite Belarusian companies to Mongolia to discuss further development of our relations," he added.
Belarus suggests drafting roadmap of joint projects with Mongolia
MINSK, 30 May (BelTA) – Belarus has suggested developing a roadmap of joint projects with Mongolia, Prime Minister of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovich said as he met with Deputy Foreign Minister of Mongolia Damba Gankhuyag on 30 May, BelTA has learnt.
According to the Premier, Belarus and Mongolia are well-positioned to expand the bilateral trade and boost cooperation in the field of investments. "We believe that the existing bilateral trade and investments are inadequate to ensure vigorous development of our economies. We can do much better," he said.
Belarus views Mongolia as a long-term and reliable friend and partner and is interested in closer ties with this country, in particular, in manufacturing, agriculture and food production, including by means of establishing joint ventures. "We can implement many projects in the field of manufacturing cooperation, trade in industrial goods, agricultural produce and foodstuffs, and set up joint ventures," Mikhail Myasnikovich said.
In this connection the Premier suggested compiling a kind of a roadmap of pioneer projects the two countries could implement in the near future. "We are ready to discuss cooperation prospects in education and other fields of mutual interest within the framework of the bilateral relations," he added.
The Premier expressed confidence that the ongoing visit of the Mongolian delegation to Belarus will open a new page in the history of the bilateral relations. "We are open for a dialogue in all the areas. I think we have great prospects," he said. The Premier suggested considering individual projects and areas of cooperation.
The Prime Minister informed that a Belarusian delegation led by the Deputy Industry Minister will visit Mongolia in June to discuss joint projects and ways to facilitate their implementation.
In 2012 the export of Belarusian merchandise to Mongolia reached $112.1 million, up by 44.7% compared to the previous year. There was virtually no import. The key exports included oil products, trucks, tractors, truck tractors, confectionery made from sugar, machines and mechanisms for crop harvesting, bread and pastry, other products. In 2012 Belarus started delivering 23 new export items to Mongolia. In January-March 2013 Belarus' export to Mongolia was estimated at $43.1 million. There was no import.
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Artisanal and small-scale miners form umbrella organisation
May 24 (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) In a bid to assist with the ongoing formalisation of Mongolia's artisanal and small-scale (ASM) mining sector, a national ASM umbrella organisation was formed in early May during the first conference ever to be convened by miners.
The conference, held at Government House, drew artisanal and small-scale miners from throughout the country who formed the umbrella organisation with the aim of formalising those who are engaged in ASM; ensuring a safe working environment for miners; enabling people to secure an income; promoting responsible mining practices; protecting the environment; ensuring that equal benefits are derived from natural resources; protecting miners' rights; and helping miners' voices be heard by the government and policymakers.
Mrs. O. Tsetsegmaa, Executive Director of the Mongolian Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining National Umbrella Organisation, said: "The first thing we have to do is land rehabilitation and reclamation. We have a responsibility to retain the integrity of the land and soil for future generations. In addition, there is a need to increase job opportunities at the local level through the fostering of a favourable legal environment by reflecting those issues related to ASM in the Law on Mineral Resources.
May 29 (Amy Rogers) In a trendy art gallery in downtown UB, a group of Mongolian human rights defenders gather to discuss the unspeakable, human trafficking. This meeting is an example of Mongolia's young but thriving civil society working in solidarity to combat human trafficking- to keep Mongolian women and girls safe. The majority of its members are male- generally an oddity in the human rights sector- but this meeting reflects the fact that Mongolian men are concerned for their women and girls, and they understand that trafficking is a male-driven industry, essentially a men's problem, requiring not just a few good men, but the commitment of an entire gender to dismantle trafficking syndicates.
This frame of thinking is reflected by the campaign, "Real Men Don't Buy Girls", a local version of Ashton and Demi's US campaign. Campaign pictures hung on the gallery wall next to other more sobering photos depicting trafficked women and girls in bondage, in brothels, their dignity violated, their bodies raped, and, as reflected in one more disturbing picture, their organs harvested. This is the dirty truth about trafficking- the underbelly of Mongolia.
Let me start with a story about a father.
Mr. Ts.Ganzorig, father of four, pictured above, was murdered in Ulaanbaatar in October 2012. The authorities have failed to charge a suspect. His killer remains unknown. But what we do know is that prior to his murder, he was loudly advocating for justice on behalf of his daughter who was kidnapped and trafficked into a brothel in January 2010. His family had actively searched for their daughter, eventually finding her a month later in a ger outside the city, confined by two men along with other underage trafficked girls.
After the rescue of his daughter, Mr. Ts.Ganzorig filed a multiple police reports. However, his daughter's case was suddenly dropped without reason, not an uncommon outcome for complaints of violence against women and girls in Mongolia. Worst still, Mr. Ts.Ganzorig was falsely accused of raping and abusing his daughter. In an interview with Mr. Ts.Ganzorig just before his death, he pleaded that he and his family were in danger and that there were high-level officials and trafficking gangs after his family, possibly trying to kill them. Perhaps his only mistake was that he relentlessly pursued justice where others would simply have given up the chase. This family's tragedy sets the scene for the context in which human rights defenders and victims are fighting the battle against human trafficking in Mongolia.
The above mentioned interview with Mr. Ts.Ganzorig has been unofficially translated to help share his story.
Human trafficking is a social phenomenon that has emerged in the last decade or so in Mongolia, a disturbing-side effect of the democratic transition. The move to a market-economy has inevitability brought with it socio-economic disparity, increased opportunities for migration, key ingredients for a thriving trafficking market, where vulnerable persons through pure desperation for a better life, sadly become victims of this heinous crime.
A study in 2010 of public perceptions of human trafficking in Mongolia found that 4.7% of respondents had relatives and friends who were victims of trafficking. Overall the study found that 90% of Mongolians had heard about trafficking, with a significantly higher awareness rate in the UB area, in comparison to rural areas.
Mongolian trafficking victims are the young and able, mostly women and girls. They come from the more vulnerable pockets of society and are orphans, the unemployed, the struggling students, and the homeless. They are targeted through the ad media (often not so subtly) and now social media, lured, deceived or abducted, into sexual slavery, force labour, fraudulent marriages, involuntary servitude and sometimes the organ trade.
Cases of trafficking documented by the Centre for Human Rights and Development include young women recruited and transported abroad for the purpose of coerced prostitution.[i] They were deceived about the nature of their promised employment, training or education. For example, in one documented case, three young female victims were promised high paying work performing Latin American dances in Yugoslavia, only to be told on their arrival that the entertainment venue had closed. They spent several months detained and raped by their traffickers, who eventually sold them to the mafia.[ii]
Trafficking recruiters are usually Mongolian, sometimes former trafficked women, working for foreign agents, perhaps for only a couple of hundred dollars.[iii] Rumour has it that a number of Mongolian gangs run the trafficking circles. Women are worth anywhere from between $US100 to $US3500.
Victims of trafficking commonly end up in Macau, China, and other parts of Asia, such as Japan, Singapore and South Korea, as well as Europe, including Russia, Yugoslavia, Belgium and Bulgaria- just to name a few destination countries.
There are a number of weaknesses in the Mongolian justice system limiting Mongolia's ability to deter and prosecute trafficking. These limitations relate both to the attitudes and understanding of law enforcement and judicial officers themselves, and also to poor legal drafting and coverage.
A 2012 US State Department Trafficking Report on Mongolia found that "the Government of Mongolia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so." Indeed, since the 2011 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Mongolia has made significant legislative progress- stemming from the ratification of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Subsequently, in January 2012, the government passed the Law on Combating Human Trafficking, amending article 113 of the Criminal Code, providing a more rigorous definition of trafficking, including forced prostitution and prostitution of minors, and mandating coordination among agencies involved in anti-trafficking efforts. The new law has brought significant improvements including prosecutions for forced prostitution, however to date no forced labor cases have ever been prosecuted. A lack of regulations and program of action to implement the new trafficking law is stifling progress.
In addition, victims are unable to recover non-material damages for their suffering, although the Government has promised to provide some compensation. In some cases, prosecutors fail to apply the more serious criminal provisions, and omit to present all relevant evidence to the court. Not surprisingly, corruption among law enforcement personnel also remains a real impediment to progressing trafficking prosecutions.
Victim blaming and shaming is also a norm in Mongolia. The social stigma associated with being trafficked into prostitution, have led some victims to attempt suicide on their return.[iv] Victims also hold very real fears of retaliation by their traffickers. As for those strong enough to pursue their perpetrators, they are often re-traumatised by the justice system, which is ill equipped to support victims. In one of the first trafficking cases brought before Mongolian courts, the victim's name and photograph was published in the national newspaper, violating her right to privacy and ensuring her humiliation and rejection by society.
It is no surprise then that many victims of trafficking do not report their violations and their cases go undocumented and unprosecuted. In some cases, the victims themselves are penalised for prostitution and immigration-related offences that they supposedly committed while being trafficking.[v] Law enforcement officers miss the obvious point, which is that trafficked persons do not freely consent to their situation and therefore cannot be guilty of any crime. Even Embassy staff when providing assistance to victims returning home, have required the victim's family to pay for accommodation and flights,[vi] a hefty financial penalty for an improvised family trying to rescue their abducted child.
Currently the Government is drafting a law on the protection of victims and witnesses, which should improve the level of protection and remedies available to victims of trafficking, and the likelihood of victims being successfully repatriated and reintergrated into society.
Going back to the public perception survey from a few years back, 89% of Mongolians surveyed felt that trafficking was a serious problem (92% in UB), and 82% nationally considered existing legislation on trafficking to be ineffective (89% in UB).[vii] Assuming Mongolians are still highly concerned about trafficking, which I believe they are, the question remains, why such impediments to promoting, strengthening and enforcing trafficking laws? The 2012 US State Department Trafficking Report states that the Government made almost no effort to prevent trafficking during the reporting period and that they did not take any measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or to address the problem of child sex tourism in the country.
It was recommended in Mongolia's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2011 that the Government extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children. This would be a positive step forward. It is important that Mongolia fully implement the recommendations of the UN treaty bodies on trafficking and strengthen domestic laws on the protection of victims and witnesses. The Mongolian Government must also provide adequate financial resources for establishing more shelter houses for victims, ensuring they have access to appropriate victims compensation and rehabilitation services.
Hopefully the political impetus will not remain dormant for long as trafficking NGOs plan to lobby candidates during the Presidential election, seeking their commitment to stamp out trafficking once and for all.
I wish them luck.
The subject of today's blog is one of great sensitivity in Mongolia. But I am going to go one step further and suggest that trafficking is not just a problem for Mongolian women, children and men, but that there is an entire industry dedicated to the trafficking of foreign men and women, including North Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and Vietnamese, to Mongolia for forced labour, including construction and domestic work. So while I have chosen to focus on the issue of trafficking of Mongolians, mainly women and girls in this blog post, I acknowledge that the rights of foreigners are being violated in Mongolia on mass and that this subject merits urgent attention, especially in the context of labour trafficking and the mining boom. This is a subject I will try to look into at a later stage.
My appreciation goes to a Mongolian friend for her assistance in translation and research for this blog post, as well as the brave Mongolian trafficking advocates who allowed me to participate in conversations about trafficking.
For more information on this topic try these organizations, working on human trafficking in Mongolia
Children's Hospital Los Angeles Sends Medical Team to Mongolia
Receives $1.25 Million from NIH To Continue Research on Pollution Effects
LOS ANGELES, May 28 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Mongolia's economic growth rate in 2012 was 12.3%—one of the highest in the world—mostly due to exports of their vast natural resources. Growth has caused rapid urbanization, and a transition out of a mainly nomadic society. These changes have resulted in serious health problems that Mongolia currently lacks the capacity to address. International support has come from volunteers, including a team of physicians and healthcare professionals from Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
For the last 15 years, David Warburton, MD, of the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, has been volunteering in Mongolia's capital city, Ulaan Baatar (Mogi: ooooh, so close), and the surrounding Gobi Desert. Along with Children's Hospital physicians Richard Mackenzie, MD, Lawrence Ross, MD, Stuart Siegel, MD, Andreas Reiff, MD, Masato Takahashi, MD and Marilyn Woo, MD, this group has helped to improve treatment in children's cancer, cardiology, dysmorphology/genetics, infectious diseases, intensive care, neonatology, pulmonology, and rheumatology at the National Center for Maternal and Child Health (NCMCH) in Ulaan Baatar. With their support, the NCMCH has become a cleaner, better-equipped, and technically more advanced academic medical center.
Recently, Warburton and colleagues received a five-year $1.25 million grant from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences to continue their research on air pollution and to build capacity among child health experts and government agencies in Mongolia. "Mongolians are wonderful, smart, warm people," says Warburton. "They listen to and appreciate our advice and are acting on it as GDP has risen and resources become increasingly available in their country. We have seen impressive changes over the past decade and now look forward to more capacity building and implementation over the coming 5 years of NIH-supported work. We hope to have a major impact on urban pollution and the health of women and children in Mongolia."
Of the difficulties that urbanization presents to children's health, rising air pollution is of major importance. The health effects from urban air pollution have been calculated to cost Mongolia 4% of GDP. During winter in Ulaan Baatar, atmospheric particulate levels are over 250-fold above the recommended levels due to a myriad of factors including the burning of unrefined coal in stoves used to heat the traditional round felt tents, called gers. Increasing vehicular traffic and power plants also contribute to the dangerously high carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide levels in the air.
Warburton works toward improving health in Mongolia through a multitude of avenues. He recently traveled to Washington D.C. for a joint meeting between the Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases and Disorders and the Tobacco Research Training programs at the NIH, and participated in the Fourth Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health conference, "Global Health: Innovation, Implementation, Impact." In April, Warburton visited Ulaan Baatar to set up collaborations with NCMCH, National University of Mongolia, Mongolia's Health Sciences University and the Government of Mongolia. He also works closely with the North American Mongolian Business Council to advise on sustainable growth of GDP in Mongolia through external trade.
Warburton has also begun working with the United States Ambassador as well as the United Kingdom's Ambassador to Mongolia to further leverage international support for this critical work. Besides improving patient care directly through the training of medical and scientific personnel at the NCMCH, Warburton advocates executive management and leadership training to ensure continued improvement of efficiency within the healthcare system. He collaborates on the latter with Jonathan Samet, MD and Heather Wipfli, PhD at the University of Southern California Institute for Global Health.
About Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children's hospital in California and among the top five in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious US News & World Report Honor Roll. Children's Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States, is one of America's premier teaching hospitals and has been affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932.
In Mongolia, learning becomes a joy
May 28 (UNICEFO) UNICEF correspondent Sabine Dolan reports on a mother in Mongolia who is taking care of a daughter with learning disabilities.
For more information, visit: http://www.unicef.org/disabilities/
Mongolia marks Int'l Day of UN Peacekeepers
ULAN BATOR, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia began to hold activities to celebrate the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, which is commemorated each year on May 29.
Mongolia, which set the day of May 29 as Mongolian Peacekeepers Day last year, launched activities Monday to mark its 11th anniversary of participating in UN peacekeeping operations.
Mongolia sent 150 soldiers for the first time to the UN peacekeeping mission in Iraq 10 years ago. More than 5,000 soldiers have participated in 15 international peacekeeping missions over the past 11 years, and currently there are more than 800 soldiers in South Sudan (Mogi: and I believe many places elsewhere).
Mongolia: Russian Universities Beckon Again to Young Scholars
May 29 (EurasiaNet) When Munkhtsetseg Enkhbat, a Mongolian language instructor at the National University of Mongolia, wanted to expand her knowledge in the related field of Manchurian linguistics, she decided to go abroad. But instead of heading to China, she enrolled in a doctoral program in Russia.
That decision might seem strange on the surface, but it made perfect sense to Enkhbat. "This is a center of Mongolian studies, and a Manchuria expert works here," she said, referring to St. Petersburg State University, where she is doing her doctoral work. "Many famous scholars in this field spent their whole lives doing research in this university."
Russia has traditionally been a magnet for Mongolian students seeking a higher education. Since 1922, over 60,000 Mongolians have obtained degrees in Russia, according to the Kremlin-sponsored Russian Center of Science and Culture in Ulaanbaatar. But since the collapse of communism, these ties have frayed, as a growing number of Mongolian students headed to Asia and the West for their higher education. Russia is no longer Mongolia's only ally and link to the outside world.
In Mongolia these days, English has replaced Russian as the main foreign language taught in schools and universities. Interest in the Russian language has plummeted. In the 1990s, the country began retraining Russian-language teachers to teach English. In 2004, then-Mongolian premier Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin, now the president, expressed a desire for everyone in the country to speak English. He later refined this idea into a more realistic national English curriculum, but the message was clear: English, not Russian, was the language of the future.
Despite these changes, Russia remains a destination for some Mongolians seeking an affordable higher education. And with Mongolia experiencing a major mining boom and rapid economic development, anecdotal indicators suggest that a Russian education is desirable again.
Ulambayar Dashkhorol, 21, went to St. Petersburg from Ulaanbaatar four years ago to study geology at the National Mineral Resources University. He followed what could be called a family tradition: his father works as a geologist, both his parents speak Russian, and he even attended a Russian-language high school in Mongolia. In this sense, he is different from many Mongolians who grew up after 1991.
In the past few years, there have been signs that other Mongolians are following Dashkhorol's lead. When he first arrived in Russia in 2009, he could practically count the number of Mongolian students studying in his university on his two hands. Today, he says, numbers have increased three- or four-fold. Dashkhorol has no doubt that the increase is tied to the mining boom, but he notes that there are other factors that make Russia attractive.
"Our country isn't very well developed," he said. "Education in Mongolia just isn't as good as it is in Russia. Here there are excellent teachers and technical colleges."
It also helps that Dashkhorol studies for free. In recent years, the Russian government has increased the number of scholarships it provides Mongolian students to 300 annually (250 for undergraduates and 50 for graduate students). At any given moment, there are approximately 2,000 Mongolians studying in universities across Russia, for free. Several Mongolian students in St. Petersburg say they hardly know anyone who is paying his or her own way in Russia.
Yevgeny Mikhailov, the director of the Russian Center of Science and Culture in Ulaanbaatar, sees growing competition for scholarships. "Judging by the quantity of applications from young Mongolian men and women, we can see an increase in the number of young people who would like to receive an education in Russia and who would like to study Russian," he wrote in an email to EurasiaNet.org.
A chance to study for free is not the only thing that attracts young Mongolians to Russia. Odkhuu Bulgantamir, 28, a master's student in geology at the Mineral Resources University, was also impressed by Russia's significant experience in mining and his university's 240-year history. "If you know Russian, if you know a foreign language, another door to the world will open for you," he added.
Bulgantamir is unsure whether Russian education will gain popularity as the Mongolian economy grows. He's not the only one with doubts. Mongolian students admit that there are practical difficulties that come along with studying in Russia. Russian cities are expensive and students struggle to stretch their stipends to cover basic needs. And they are not allowed to work while studying. China, a country that also offers government scholarship for Mongolian students, allows them to work; the cost of living there is far cheaper, too.
The main test of Russian education may not be the cost or the popularity of the language, but whether the students feel they are getting a good education. For the most part, it seems they do. Even Enkhbat, who admits she has struggled to adapt to St. Petersburg and learn the Russian language, feels her decision placed her in an ideal academic environment. "Russia is one of the main sources of academic and scientific knowledge in the world," she said. "The professors and researchers I work with here are Mongolia experts. They relate to me well and really understand me."
Innovations in Health: A Discussion on MCC's Investments in Fighting NCDIs in Mongolia
Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm
The George Washington University
Marvin Center, Room 403, 800 21st Street Northwest Washington, DC 20052
MCC's $38.9 million Health Project in Mongolia is designed to address the high and growing incidence of non-communicable diseases and injuries (NCDIs). Through the project, MCC has invested in training and educational support, promotion of policy changes, and provision of equipment and supplies to health facilities throughout Mongolia's 21 provinces.
Ms. Batsaikhan Bolormaa, Counselor for Economic Affairs, Embassy of Mongolia;
Dr. A. Munkhtaivan, Health Project Director, MCA-Mongolia;
Dr. James M. Sherry, Professor of Global Health and International Affairs, The George Washington University;
Dr. Silvija Staprans, Director of Medical Affairs, Strategic Partnerships & Stakeholder Engagement, Merck.
New Book: Does Everyone Want Democracy? Insights from Mongolia
Does Everyone Want Democracy? Insights from Mongolia by Paula L.W. Sabloff. Left Coast Press 2013. 266 pp., 282 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / Apr, 2013, eBook (978-1-61132-719-9), Hardback (978-1-59874-565-8)
May 28 (Mongolia Focus) Do all people desire democracy? For over a century, the idea that democracy is a universal good has been an article of faith for American policymakers. Anthropologist Paula Sabloff challenges this conventional wisdom about who wants democracy and why. Starting with the psychological literature, she explains that certain values (personal dignity, self-determination, and justice) appear to be universally esteemed today, partly because they match up with some universal human such emotions as hope and fear. She argues that people can live these emotions and values better under democracy, which promotes economic and political freedom, than totalitarianism, which does not. Thus the principles of democracy may, indeed, be universal. However, the data collected from 1,283 interviews of Mongolian citizens suggest that how people want their government to act is idiosyncratic. Mongolians' culture, history, current circumstances and future aspirations influence how they want government to support them and how they view their role in maintaining democracy.
The book begins with an historical chapter, for one cannot talk about governance in Mongolia without understanding Chinggis Khaan and his place in the hearts of Mongolians today. Photographs from the archives of the National Museum of Mongolian History illustrate the historical chapter.The book then describes people's changing attitude toward human rights, political rights and freedoms, economic rights and freedoms, government's responsibility toward its people and citizens' responsibilities toward their government. Tables and original photographs illustrate this part of the text.
This fascinating study of Mongolia – feudal until it became the first country to follow Russia into communism and now struggling with post-socialist democratization – is a model for investigating how everyday people around the world actually think about and implement democracy on their own terms.
Paula L. W. Sabloff is a professor at the Santa Fe Institute. She is a political anthropologist who has conducted research in Mexico, the United States, and Mongolia. She has taught at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pennsylvania. She curated the exhibition "Modern Mongolia: Reclaiming Genghis Khan" at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution). She is editor of several books including Modern Mongolia: Reclaiming Genghis Khan (2001), Mapping Mongolia (2011), and Higher Education in the Post-Communist World (1998). She is currently applying network theory to Mongolian and Mexican databases.
Christina Noble: My deprived childhood inspired me to help street children in Vietnam and Mongolia
May 30 (Daily Express) CHRISTINA NOBLE'S face is filled with pride as she talks about the 700,000 street children her charity has helped in Vietnam and Mongolia since 1989.
"No words can describe the happiness I feel that we've been able to give so many a better start in life. When you see children, who would have otherwise been living on the streets, graduating from university and able to build a life for themselves you can't help but smile," says Christina, 68.
It's a staggering achievement considering her charity the Christina Noble Foundation began as a one-woman operation in Vietnam before expanding to Mongolia in 1997. Over two decades Christina has tirelessly raised funds to help orphans, children with special needs and their families, earning an OBE in 2003. Her west London office is decorated with drawings countless children have presented to the woman they affectionately call Mamma Tina.
Despite being from the opposite side of the world Christina has much in common with the street children she works with. Her own childhood in Dublin saw her subjected to abuse and mistreatment and she eventually ended up living on the streets. In fact her story is so filled with tragedy it's being made into a film called Noble, starring Brendon Coyle, best known for his role as John Bates in Downton Abbey.
Born in Dublin on December 23, 1944, Christina had two older brothers Andy and Michael as well as younger siblings Johnny, Kathy and Philomena. The family lived in a working-class area known as the Liberties. Her mother Annie worked hard but her father Thomas Byrne, a boxer, was an alcoholic.
"The flat had a double bed and a mattress in the living area and a small pantry. We didn't have a lot but on Fridays mum would always find enough money for fish and chips . Despite the poor conditions we had a sense of togetherness."
HOWEVER Christina's family was torn apart when Annie died in 1955.
"I'd been told mum had been born with rheumatic fever and all through my childhood she'd have periods when she found breathing difficult. I vividly remember the day she died. It was March and raining. Dad was drunk. I'd had to go fetch him out of the pub when mum was taken ill. After she died I just kept hoping she'd come back."
She was left to care for Johnny, Philomena and Kathy. "Dad would pick up casual work but his drinking prevented him earning a wage that would keep four children. My brothers would help out but aged 11 I went out to sing in pubs for coal and food," Christina recalls.
Eventually Christina's father sent the four children away to live with relatives, where Christina was sexually abused. During this time the Byrne family came to the attention of the authorities and the children were taken into care .
"I was sent to a school in Clifden on the west coast of Ireland, hundreds of miles away from my home. It was a cruel place and there was mental abuse. The nuns would say my mother was a prostitute and that I was a "thick Dublin tramp" and we were beaten. I was also told my brothers and sisters were all dead and I believed that," Christina says.
Aged 16 Christina returned to Dublin. With nowhere to go and her father living in a hostel she was homeless, taking shelter in a coal shed. One evening she was raped by a group of men and gave birth to son Thomas, who was put up for adoption by a home for unmarried mothers.
"After this I felt I couldn't remain in Ireland. I'd heard that my younger siblings were alive and in care but my elder brother was living in Birmingham so I got a ferry over to England." Here she met her first husband.
The couple had three children and Christina worked in a fish and chip shop. "He had many affairs and I realised my life in Birmingham was not much different from my life in Dublin. The man in my life had an addictive personality but rather than alcohol like my father he was addicted to women."
It was during this unhappy time in 1971 that Christina had a vivid dream about Vietnam. It was so powerful that eventually it compelled her to visit the country.
"I dreamed Vietnamese children were running down the road and reaching out to me. Although Vietnam had been in the news I didn't watch much television so I don't know what prompted such a vivid dream.
"The pain I felt was so real it became a part of me. I didn't fully understand it but I knew that I had to go. It was a compulsion," explains Christina.
However it took until 1989 for that prophetic vision to be realised.
By then Christina was living in Surrey having married a college lecturer called Simon Noble.
Christina suffered from bouts of depression and the couple separated. With her three children grown-up she took the decision to fly to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, taking just her suitcase and a few hundred pounds.
"I started by visiting some street children near the hotel I was staying at before working with an orphanage in the city. I persuaded a company called Enterprise Oil to donate the funds to build a new social centre.
"I had no money and was sometimes going hungry myself but because of my own childhood I knew what it was like to be a victim and living on the streets."
NOW Christina divides her time travelling between Asia, London and the US and the charity has the support of a number of sponsors including Banham Security and television presenter Lisa Butcher.
The charity aims to protect children who are at risk and provides emergency and long-term medical care, help with literacy and education and support for local communities. At an age when many others would be retiring Christina says she is determined to remain the force behind the charity's fundraising efforts.
"I've had breast cancer and a heart bypass but these are all just things that happen on the journey. I'm not wealthy in terms of money but my life is rich.
"Every day I feel like I've won the lottery but you can't spend or squander the joy you get from helping so many."
For more information about the Christina Noble Children's Foundation visit cncf.org
Mongolia holds book fair for children
ULAN BATOR, May 30 (Xinhua) -- A fair providing comic stories and electronic books for children was held Thursday in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, as a gift of June 1 International Children's Day.
A number of Mongolian publishers and book companies, organized by charity group "Book World", offered sales discounts and writer-signing at the site on the two-day event. Many children selected comic books and e-books with their parents at the fair.
Suvd, an editor of "Book World" told Xinhua that kids to the fair were more interested in e-books and puzzle books than others. Educational books and world classics for parents are also available.
"Book World" has held a number of events including book exchange, donations, and seminars between writers and readers, with an aim to promote reading and introduce Mongolian writers to the world.
Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
Founder & CEO
Mobile: +976 9999 6779
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