[Mongolia denounces Moody's cut; treasury auctions fail again; two ex-PMs awarded ambassadorships; and China urges Mongolia to fix Dalai Lama setback]

 November 21st, 2016      190

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Monday, November 21, 2016

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

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         MMC: Court Hearing Adjourned to 5 December to Finalize Documentation with Lenders

·         Kincora Copper Ltd 'excited' by targets identified at Bayan Tal in Mongolia

·         TerraCom Investor Roadshow Presentation: Focus on Cashflow & Growth

Local Market

·         MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 +3.08%, ALL -2.05%, Turnover ₮89.3 Million Shares, ₮18.2 Billion T-Bills

·         GoM offers ₮10 billion 52-week t-bills at 17% discount on MSE

Economy

·         Mongolia Rating Cut as Moody's Expects Elevated Debt Burden

·         MNT falls 2nd day against USD, USD/MNT fell 0.76% last week to ₮2,434.22

·         BoM issues ₮133.4 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +2.7% to ₮386.4 billion

·         ₮40 billion 39-week treasury auction receives no bids

·         Mongolia Receives $74 Million FDI in Third Quarter, Negative $4.27 Billion Q1-Q3

·         BoM Monthly Statistical Bulletin, October 2016

·         Consolidated Balance Sheet of Mongolian Banking System: NPLs +30.8%, Profit -53.5% YoY

·         October sees steady birthrate

·         Unemployment rate decreases by 1.0 point

·         London copper climbs with oil on reflation trade

·         Coking coal prices soaring on supply drop, speculation

·         Gold bounces off 5-1/2-month low on physical buying

·         Iron Ore's Party Gives Way to Hangover as China Stockpiles Surge

·         Oil prices climb on expectation of OPEC-led output cut

Politics & Legal

·         Early Presidential Election Speculation

·         Is privatization the right move?

·         Nov 26 Independence Day officially announces as public holiday

·         Mongolia to mark 25th anniversary of democratic constitution

Business

·         Distributors tasked to reserve 30-day fuel

·         Business integrity roundtable focuses on corruption

·         Colorful and stylish "Erdenes" felt handbags

Ulaanbaatar

·         Mayor appeals for citizens' participation in snow plowing

·         Ulaanbaatar to receive $250,000 grant from World Bank to improve ger district heating

Diplomacy

·         Dalai Lama preaches in Mongolia, risking China's fury

·         China says Dalai Lama's Mongolia visit could harm ties

·         Schedule of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Mongolia

·         Speaker of Parliament meets the ambassadors of India and Japan

·         Two former prime ministers appointed ambassadors

·         Mongolia, Greece can cooperate in agriculture and tourism

·         Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas

Health & Education

·         Helipad to be built at National Trauma Centre

·         TEDxAmerican School of Ulaanbaatar on November 19

Culture & Society

·         Reminder: ACMS Speaker Series: William Taylor – Origins of Horse Herding, November 21

Nature & Environment

·         Coldest winter in 100 years? Not so fast

·         Global Giving UK: Snow Leopards Of Mongolia

Sports

·         Weightlifter M.Ankhtsetseg becomes University World champion

·         Mongolian girl becomes honoured athlete of Kazakhstan

Art & Entertainment

·         Baritone G.Ariunbaatar to perform Carmen's Escamillo in South Korea

·         Dreamers' Day: The Look of Silence at iCinema

·         Mongolian YouTube Hits at Corporate Convention Center, November 18

Travel

·         Ash Dykes: Alone In Mongolia [Trailer #1]

·         The Annual Ten Thousand Camel Festival – An Event Not to Be Missed!

·         Bikepacking Mongolia: Magical cycling in the middle of nowhere

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

975 trading -3.39% to HK$0.285 at midday on the announcement

MMC: Court Hearing Adjourned to 5 December to Finalize Documentation with Lenders

November 20 -- This announcement is made by Mongolian Mining Corporation (In Provisional Liquidation) (the "Company") pursuant to Rule 13.09(2) of the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Long Limited and the Inside Information Provisions under Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong). The Company and its subsidiaries are collectively referred to as the "Group".

Reference is made to the announcement of the Company dated 21 July 2016 in relation to the appointment by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands (the "Cayman Court") of Mr. Simon Conway of PwC Corporate Finance Recovery (Cayman) Limited and Mr. Christopher So Man Chun of PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd. as joint provisional liquidators (the "JPLs") of the Company on a soft touch basis to assist the Company and its existing board of directors with the implementation of the proposed debt restructuring on an expedited basis (the "Debt Restructuring"). In order for the JPLs to have been appointed by the Cayman Court, a petition for the winding up of the Company (the "Petition") was required to be filed with the Cayman Court as a necessary pre-cursor to facilitate its application seeking the appointment of the JPLs. As at the date of this Announcement, no winding up order has been made against the Company.

Reference is also made to the announcement of the Company dated 28 October 2016 that the Petition is further adjourned until 18 November 2016.

Reference is also made to the announcement of the Company dated 3 November 2016 that the key commercial terms of the Debt Restructuring have been supported by the steering committee of holders of US$600,000,000 8.875% senior notes due 2017 issued by the Company (the "Steering Committee"), the lenders under the facilities agreement dated 5 March 2014 with the Company (the "Lenders") and QGX Holdings Ltd. ("QGX") in relation to certain promissory notes issued by the Company.

Given that the Company is in the process of preparing and/or finalizing all legal documentation with the Steering Committee, the Lenders and QGX in order to effect the Debt Restructuring, it was agreed between the Company, the JPLs, the Steering Committee, the Lenders and certain other creditors that the hearing of the Petition be further adjourned. The Company on 18 November 2016 (Cayman time) received a Consent Order issued by the Cayman Court dated 17 November 2016 adjourning the hearing of the Petition to the first available date after 5 December 2016.

Link to release

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KCC closed +13.5% Friday to C$0.42

Kincora Copper Ltd 'excited' by targets identified at Bayan Tal in Mongolia

November 18 (Proactive Investors) Kincora Copper Ltd. (CVE:KCC) has announced that  copper-gold porphyry mineralisation has been confirmed within a large scale complex at its project in Bayan Tal in Mongolia and supports priority drilling.

President and CEO Sam Spring tells Proactive's Andrew Scott: ''We've been working hard and refining our work programs and had a detailed workshop with this new technical team ... and Bayan Tal was really a bit of a standout in that workshop.''

Asked what the copper potential's like in Mongolia, Spring said: ''It's generally recognised by most as one of the few under-explored frontiers left. It's a well known copper belt  with two large scale mines being constructed and expanded at the moment''.

Link to article (and video)

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TER trading -7.5% to A$0.037 near close

TerraCom Investor Roadshow Presentation: Focus on Cashflow & Growth

November 21, TerraCom Ltd. (ASX:TER) --

Overview

ü  Independent hard coking coal and high quality thermal coal producer

§  Targeting production from 3 mines in 3 regions with a total target output of 5Mtpa in 2017 and all mines are estimated to deliver strong positive cash flows

ü  Blair Athol Thermal Coal Mine in Australia#

§  A$1 acquisition of Blair Athol (BA) thermal coal mine in Bowen Basin, Australia completed and mining operations to commence in late 2016

ü  BNU Hard Coking Coal Mine in Mongolia

§  Restart of BNU mining operations underpinned by 5.5 year coal offtake agreement for ~7.5Mt of sales linked to seabourne prices

ü  Indomet Hard Coking Coal Mine in Indonesia

§  In discussion to acquire operating hard coking coal mine in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia targeting completion Q1 2017

ü  Large JORC resource base (excludes BA and Indomet)

§  304 Mt of coking and thermal coal in Mongolia

§  2.1 Bt of thermal and PCI coal in Australia

ü  Strong development pipeline

§  Organic /Brownfields expansion from each of the 3 regional hubs through development of large surrounding resources

ü  Resilient balance sheet

§  After restructuring through the issuance of a 5-year interest-only EuroClear-traded bonds

ü  Strong Board and management team

§  Proven track record in building and operating coal mines

Link to presentation

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 +3.08%, ALL -2.05%, Turnover 89.3 Million Shares, 18.2 Billion T-Bills

November 18 (MSE) --

Link to report

Link to Friday trading report

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GoM offers ₮10 billion 52-week t-bills at 17% discount on MSE

November 18 (MSE) Buy order of 52 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 17.00% starts from 18 November 2016 until 22 November 2016 through brokerage companies.

Click here to see detailed information of 52 weeks Government bonds.

Link to release

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Economy

Mogi: BoM and GoM made a joint statement denouncing the downgrade as baseless

Mongolia Rating Cut as Moody's Expects Elevated Debt Burden

By Michael Kohn

  • Heightened risk stems from uncertainty over securing finance
  • Large-scale mining and infrastructure seen as way out of debt

November 21 (Bloomberg) Mongolia's debt rating was downgraded by Moody's Investors Service as there is "heightened uncertainty" over the government's ability to meet its debt service obligations over the next two years and an expectation that the debt will increase.

The nation's long-term issuer and senior unsecured rating was cut one step to Caa1 from B3 by Moody's, the same level as Barbados and Belarus, with a stable outlook, the debt rating company announced on Friday.

The new government has to reckon with a multitude of problems - the economy is contracting, the currency is in freefall and the budget deficit has ballooned. It declared a crisis soon after coming to office, announced austerity measures and a plan to stabilize the economy, and last month held talks with the International Monetary Fund to discuss support.

"The government's fiscal strength, and the Mongolian economy's external position, have deteriorated significantly," Moody's said in its statement. "The government is reliant on securing external finance from a combination of multilateral and bilateral sources, the availability of which is not ascertained.''

The Ministry of Finance responded to the downgrade with a statement that the government "remains committed to overcoming the current short-term situation in a prudent and sustainable manner" and the government's "proactive economic, fiscal adjustments and proposed measures are in line with the policy recommendations of the IMF and World Bank.'' 

Debt obligations

The country faces $800 million in external debt service obligations in 2017, equivalent to 7.5 percent of GDP, Moody's said. In addition to these existing debts, the budget deficit this year is projected to be 19.5 percent of gross domestic product, up from five percent in 2015, according to the statement.

"Failure to secure financing, particularly in the context of a further deterioration in growth and debt dynamics, would raise the risks of a balance of payments crisis and debt restructuring,'' according to the Moody's statement.

Reversal of that deficit will take "many years,'' Moody's said. "With limited room to cut spending or generate revenues until mining production and exports significantly ramp up, deficits will remain in double digits in 2017 and 2018.'' While Moody's expects only a slight pick-up in GDP next year, an improvement in mining-related investment will lead to better growth from 2018, the agency said.

"It's worth noting that credit rating changes rely on lagging economic indicators, and new signs of revival in Mongolia's economy are starting to take shape," Bilguun Ankhbayar, Chief Executive Officer of the Mongolian Investment Banking Group, said by e-mail. 

"As mineral prices rally and policy makers indicate that a bailout by international financial institutions is imminent, the sentiment that tugrik may be bottoming is prevailing in Ulaanbaatar,'' Bilguun added.

Link to article

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

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, November 18 Close

 


11/18

11/17

11/16

11/15

11/14

11/11

11/10

11/9

11/8

11/7

High

Date

USD

2,434.22

2,428.64

2,424.44

2,446.56

2,459.55

2,452.98

2,453.39

2,428.08

2,420.95

2,413.08

2,459.55

11/14/2016

EUR

2,581.37

2,602.17

2,595.61

2,636.05

2,652.50

2,674.61

2,681.43

2,699.54

2,676.48

2,668.87

2,681.43

11/10/2016

JPY

21.98

22.28

22.15

22.63

22.85

22.97

23.23

23.49

23.18

23.10

23.49

11/9/2016

GBP

3,018.07

3,024.51

3,024.73

3,052.82

3,073.70

3,083.03

3,050.91

3,011.06

3,008.64

2,994.15

3,183.26

8/13/2014

RUB

37.43

37.39

37.53

37.34

37.35

37.58

38.73

38.06

37.98

37.75

54.32

6/27/2014

CNY

353.26

353.57

352.89

356.85

359.86

359.93

361.23

358.50

357.22

356.16

361.23

11/10/2016

KRW

2.06

2.07

2.07

2.09

2.09

2.10

2.13

2.12

2.13

2.11

2.13

11/8/2016

SGD

1,706.91

1,715.50

1,708.80

1,732.94

1,736.91

1,739.27

1,752.48

1,746.32

1,741.75

1,736.22

1,752.48

11/10/2016

CAD

1,797.27

1,809.18

1,803.36

1,810.32

1,813.56

1,817.49

1,832.67

1,816.20

1,811.88

1,802.35

1,832.67

11/10/2016

AUD

1,797.31

1,814.80

1,824.39

1,847.15

1,857.94

1,862.79

1,886.29

1,864.77

1,865.83

1,854.21

1,886.29

11/10/2016

HKD

313.80

313.10

312.56

315.40

317.07

316.19

316.37

313.14

312.16

311.12

317.07

11/14/2016

CHF

2,408.69

2,426.09

2,418.76

2,456.51

2,478.64

2,488.06

2,492.52

2,497.77

2,484.68

2,468.62

2,497.77

11/9/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,418 Sell ₮2,438), TDB (Buy ₮2,420 Sell ₮2,442), Golomt (Buy ₮2,420 Sell ₮2,440), XacBank (Buy ₮2,430 Sell ₮2,445), State Bank (Buy ₮2,420 Sell ₮2,458)

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

Link to rates

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BoM issues 133.4 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +2.7% to ₮386.4 billion

November 18 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 133.4 billion at a weighted interest rate of 15.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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₮40 billion 39-week treasury auction receives no bids

November 18 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 39 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 40.0 billion MNT. Government Treasury bill was not sold due to absence of both competitive and non-competitive bids.

Link to release

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Mongolia Receives $74 Million FDI in Third Quarter, Negative $4.27 Billion Q1-Q3

November 21 (Bank of Mongolia) Compared with the preliminary estimates of Balance of Payments (BOP) which werereleased on the  October 28, 2016, the revised estimates show that current accountdeficit has increased by US$ 57.5  million reached surplus of US$176.4, whereas capital and financial account surplus has decreased by US$ 7.4 million reached surplus of US$177.9 million. As a result, errors and omission have decreased by US$ 64.9 million.

These changes are subject to quarterly survey received from enterprises. Particularly, the decrease is caused by the enterprises' trade credits as well as foreign bank accounts changes.

Main indicators            

Current account deficit stands at US$ 176.4 million, decrease of US$ 151.2 million or 46percent compared to the same period of the previous year. The change is attributable to improvement in income account deficit by 36 percent with or US$ 271.2 millionwhich is caused by increase of re-investment income and decrease of dividend and interest payment from previous year. Whereas goods and services account surplus has decreased by 60 percent or US$ 189.3 million which is explained by increase of the major enterprises' payment to the foreign financial consultancy and technical assistance services compared to the same period of the previous year.

Capital and financial accounts showed surplus of US$ 177.9 million, decrease of US$132.7 million or 43 percent from the previous year. 

Table1. Balance of Payments for first 3 Quarters of 2016, in millions of USD

Detailed information

Link to release

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BoM Monthly Statistical Bulletin, October 2016

November 18 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Link to report

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Consolidated Balance Sheet of Mongolian Banking System: NPLs +30.8%, Profit -53.5% YoY

November 18 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Assets

10/31/2015

12/31/2015

3/31/2016

6/30/2016

9/30/2016

10/31/2016

Bank reservers

1,783,749.4

2,064,802.2

1,995,463.7

3,023,156.9

2,599,182.2

2,352,217.7

Central bank bills

655,435.5

1,024,770.8

691,696.6

480,496.8

1,173,192.6

1,240,397.8

Foreign assets

879,777.6

977,926.2

1,379,075.8

1,270,786.7

2,470,012.0

2,282,813.0

Government securities

2,292,502.4

2,543,100.8

2,532,738.1

2,401,597.7

2,510,471.6

2,783,821.5

Other securities

624,720.9

762,088.6

1,032,197.7

1,382,681.5

1,030,351.2

1,036,705.1

Loans

11,847,871.5

11,633,582.6

11,764,551.5

11,950,784.9

12,409,420.7

12,483,936.8

In domestic currency

9,020,920.8

8,857,639.7

9,053,513.2

9,288,555.0

9,816,965.6

9,762,118.1

In foreign currency

2,826,950.7

2,775,942.9

2,711,038.2

2,662,229.9

2,592,455.1

2,721,818.7

Non-performing loans

868,871.3

867,288.7

964,396.5

1,032,111.4

1,115,283.8

1,136,099.9

Total Assets

20,736,717.1

21,521,242.5

22,042,486.6

23,310,417.0

24,656,760.3

24,725,066.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liabilities

10/31/2015

12/31/2015

3/31/2016

6/30/2016

9/30/2016

10/31/2016

Current Accounts

2,155,244.8

2,208,520.6

2,114,696.0

2,712,315.4

2,775,115.1

2,641,847.3

In domestic currency

1,162,589.1

1,226,775.5

1,156,950.6

1,419,582.5

1,364,754.6

1,424,880.5

In foreign currency

992,655.7

981,745.1

957,745.4

1,292,732.9

1,410,360.5

1,216,966.8

Deposits

7,233,505.7

7,339,720.7

7,529,373.6

7,866,001.9

8,063,390.3

8,236,807.6

In domestic currency

5,171,257.2

5,390,685.4

5,424,466.0

5,584,217.1

5,622,148.7

5,668,592.9

In foreign currency

2,062,248.6

1,949,035.3

2,104,907.5

2,281,784.9

2,441,241.6

2,568,214.7

Foreign liabilities

3,176,308.7

3,595,478.1

3,762,953.4

3,643,502.4

5,086,465.5

5,200,202.5

Government deposits

1,434,126.6

1,453,863.8

2,247,310.7

2,522,696.4

2,367,524.1

1,597,442.5

Total Liabilities

18,327,310.2

19,094,433.4

19,647,892.5

20,741,045.7

21,886,688.4

21,929,225.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital

2,409,406.9

2,426,809.1

2,394,594.2

2,569,371.2

2,770,071.9

2,795,840.3

Profit/loss of current year

190,508.1

218,253.8

(7,689.3)

26,673.6

88,026.9

88,534.3

Link to full report

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October sees steady birthrate

Ulaanbaatar, November 18 (MONTSAME) In October 2016, there were 6,539 new deliveries  and 6,575 live births, representing a growth of 0.1% and 0.2% respectively compared with the previous month.

There were 1,142 infant and 1,406 under-five mortalities recorded within the first 10 months of 2016. Compared to the same period in 2015, infant and child mortality increased by 133 (13.2%) and by 199 (16.5%) respectively. The main causes of infant mortality were respiratory system diseases and measles.

In October 2016, 79 and 109 cases of infant and under-five year old children mortalities were registered, which decreased by 7 cases (8.1%) and by 5 cases (4.4%) compared to that of September.

Link to article

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Unemployment rate decreases by 1.0 point

Ulaanbaatar, November 18 (MONTSAME) The Labour Force Survey covering the third quarter of 2016, showed the number of economically active population aged 15 and over reached 1,263.2 thousand at the national level, of which 681.4 (53.9%) thousand were men and 581.8 (46.1%) thousand were women.

The above mentioned survey also showed the number of unemployed amounted to 118.8 thousand, of which 72.7(61.2%) thousand were men and 46.1 (38.8%) thousand were women. The unemployment rate stood at 9.4 percent at the national level. It was lower by 1.0 percentage point than that of the preceding quarter.

Link to article

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London copper climbs with oil on reflation trade

MELBOURNE, Nov 21 (Reuters) - London copper rose on Monday, rebounding from a weekly decline last week, and other metals also gained as investors poured into the sector on the prospects for higher inflation in line with rising oil prices next year.

The likelihood of rising U.S. interest rates, better than expected China consumption this year and smaller growth in mine supply for 2017 all played a part in improving the consensus views for copper's outlook, said analyst Dan Hynes at ANZ in Sydney.

"Looking at copper technicals, it's looking overbought, but when you place it against the metals complex, it looks like it can go higher," he added.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange climbed 2 percent to $5,530 a tonne by 0328 GMT, paring losses from the previous session.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper rallied 1.5 percent to 44,840 yuan ($6,501) a tonne.

The physical market has supported the steep move in copper price, with premiums for metal in Shanghai staying firm at $95 a tonne <_0BASEBW-SHMET>, up from $70 a month ago.

However, premiums for metal to be shipped to Shanghai fell by $15 to $80 a tonne last week, suggesting some traders have become reluctant to source metal from overseas. <_0BASECIF-SHMET>

Oil prices rose around 1 percent on Monday as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries moved closer to an output cut to rein in oversupply that has kept prices low for over two years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to open the economy further on Saturday as leaders of Asia-Pacific countries sought new free-trade options following Donald Trump's election to U.S. president on promises to scrap or renegotiate trade deals.

Clues on future U.S. policy under Donald Trump rather than economic data will likely dominate minds and markets in the week ahead given a U.S. interest rate hike in December is now a near-certainty.

Reflecting increased appetite from investors, hedge funds and money managers raised their net-long position in COMEX copper futures and options in the week to Nov. 15 to a record for the second straight week, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.

Among other metals, LME nickel rebounded 2.7 percent to $11,140 a tonne, paring some of Friday's steep 3.4 percent losses.

LME zinc and lead were up around 2.1 percent.

Link to article

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Coking coal prices soaring on supply drop, speculation

TOKYO, November 19 (Nikkei Asian Review) -- The price of coking coal, used in making steel, is surging, buoyed by a drop in supply from China and Australia and speculative money that has poured into China's futures market.

International spot prices for coking coal have exceeded $300 per ton, nearing a record high reached five years ago.

This spring, the Chinese government restricted the number of working days for coal mines to address overproduction, causing prices to surge. To cope with the situation, Beijing in October relaxed restrictions and ordered major mining companies to increase output. However, the upswing did not stop, and prices have increased threefold since July. 

With the onset of winter, resumption of production has been delayed at underground coal mines in inland China, and securing miners could also take time. Kiah Wei Giam, a coal analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a British research company, expects it will take a month or two before production starts to increase again.

China's retail investors spurred the coal price surge. At the Dalian Commodity Exchange in China, on which coking coal futures are listed, the daily average coking coal trading volume hovered at around 7 million tons in July, but started rising sharply from September, when expectations of higher prices grew. The average daily trading volume topped 30 million tons in October and 50 million tons on some days in November.

In late October, an official of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's macroeconomic management agency, told Xinhua News Agency that the recent coal price surge in China was irrational and unsustainable. To curb the inflow of speculative money, the government this month raised margin requirements and transaction fees for futures trading.

An official at U.S. bank Citigroup said some retail investors who shy away from restrictions are shifting their money to iron ore and steel futures markets. In China, moving money to overseas assets is difficult due to strict restrictions on capital movement. Speculators -- who seek more profitable investments regardless of the government's intentions -- could affect steel prices.

With China starting to increase output and the U.S. and other countries set to resume production in early 2017, Giam said coking coal prices are unlikely to remain at $200 and the average price will drop to around $160 in 2017.

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Gold bounces off 5-1/2-month low on physical buying

November 21 (Reuters) Gold crawled higher in Asian trade on Monday, snapping a 3-session losing streak, helped by physical buying after the metal slid to a 5-1/2-month low on Friday.

Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,211.72 an ounce by 0240 GMT. In the previous session, the metal fell as much as 1 percent to mark its lowest since May 30 at $1,203.52.

U.S. gold futures were up 0.2 percent at $1,211.50 per ounce.

"The low prices have induced some interest in the physical market," said ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes.

"However, the dollar has got some momentum behind it and until a turnaround, it is going to be difficult for gold prices to recover."

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was steady at 101.200 after climbing to its highest level since 2003 on Friday on continued bets of faster inflation and higher interest rates.

"There are chances for prices to weaken below $1,200 in the next few weeks leading into the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting," Hynes added.

Bullion has also been pressured by talk of an interest rate hike in December by the Federal Reserve.

Markets now put a 90 percent chance on the Fed hiking rates by 25 basis points on Dec. 14.

New York Fed President William Dudley said on Friday the post-U.S. election market reaction is not concerning in terms of planned interest rate increases.

This came after Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president has done nothing to change the Federal Reserve's plans for a rate increase "relatively soon."

Gold is highly sensitive to interest rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

"We expect gold to continue to struggle against a backdrop of a firmer US stock market, a stronger dollar and rising global rates," Edward Meir, analyst with INTL FCStone, said in a note.

Spot gold seems to have found a support at $1,204 per ounce, it may hover above this level for one day or bounce moderately into a range of $1,222-$1,235, according to Reuters technicals analyst Wang Tao.

Speculators cut their net long position in COMEX gold for the first time in four weeks, in the week to Nov. 15, and also reduced it in silver, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.

SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.58 percent to 915.29 tonnes on Friday from 920.63 tonnes on Thursday.

Silver was up 0.53 percent at $16.67 per ounce.

Platinum was little changed at $921.00 and palladium fell 0.3 percent to $722.22 an ounce.

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Iron Ore's Party Gives Way to Hangover as China Stockpiles Surge

  • Port holdings in China expand to highest since September 2014
  • Prices have given up gains as dollar advances on rate outlook

November 21 (Bloomberg) For iron ore, it is the morning after the night before. Prices have given up almost all of the gains inspired by Donald Trump's surprise win and a speculative frenzy in China, with a surge in port stockpiles in the top user reminding investors that fundamentals still count.

"The speed of the recent rally leaves it open to the charge that price action has been too much, too fast," Dane Davis, an analyst at Barclays Plc in New York, said in a note that asked "After the party....the hangover?" The balance of risk for iron as well as copper is skewed to the downside as the dollar strengthens and the effects of Trump's win wear off, according to Davis.

Iron ore prices barreled to a two-year high this month as investors celebrated Trump's victory on the outlook for infrastructure spending at the same time that commodities futures volumes surged in China. The rally has been thrown into reverse after mainland exchanges raised charges to quell the fervor, and the U.S. currency advanced on prospects for higher interest rates. The port holdings data have added to the bearish mix, reinforcing signs of ample supply.

"As it did earlier this year, China has cracked down on speculation in the iron ore market," Davis said. "With these stricter standards in place, the iron ore price should continue to ease off recent highs, though it may find support from continued highs in other steel raw materials, such as met coal, and a domestic steel market that looks to set to grow production in 2016."

Trump's Win

In Asia, the SGX AsiaClear contract was little changed at $66.89 a metric ton at 11:49 a.m. on Monday. That follows a 15 percent plunge last week, and puts prices just above the $64.78 close on Nov. 8, the last day of trade of before Trump's win. On the Dalian Commodity Exchange, futures are at 558 yuan ($81) a ton, compared with the 519 yuan close on Nov. 8.

Benchmark spot with 62 percent content at Qingdao fell 8.8 percent last week to $72.79 on Friday, capping the first weekly drop in almost two months, according to Metal Bulletin Ltd. Prices, which remain 67 percent higher in 2016, may average $58 this quarter and $50 next year, according to Barclays.

As prices sank last week, port inventories in China climbed to the highest since September 2014, according to Shanghai Steelhome Information Technology Co. The holdings rose 2.6 percent to 110.58 million tons, the biggest percentage increase in more than a year. They're up 19 percent in 2016.

Miners' shares have been whipsawed by iron ore's sudden surge and slump. In Sydney, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., Australia's No. 3 shipper, dropped 7.8 percent last week after a 19 percent advance the week before. Brazil's Vale SA gained 15 percent in the period to Nov. 11, then lost 6 percent last week.

The recent surge in prices "has to do with speculation, and trading has since become more rational," said Dang Man, an analyst at Maike Futures Co. in Xi'an, China. "Iron ore's fundamentals have never been great. The huge increase in port stockpiles doesn't bode well."

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Oil prices climb on expectation of OPEC-led output cut

November 21 (Reuters) Oil prices rose around 1 percent on Monday as producer cartel OPEC moved closer to an output cut to rein oversupply that has kept prices low for over two years.

International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were trading at $47.35 per barrel at 0023 GMT (7.23 p.m. ET), up 49 cents, or 1.05 percent, from their last settlement.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was up 0.98 percent, or 44 cents, at $46.14 a barrel.

Traders said that markets were being supported by advancing plans by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut production in a bid to prop up the market following over two years of low prices as a result of output exceeding demand.

Such a deal has proved tricky to agree as some producers, most notably Iran, have been reluctant to cut output.

But an agreement has become more likely as Iran, keen to increase output after international sanctions against it were lifted last January, was expected to be given an exemption if it agrees to cap its production rather than cutting it, leaving the onus of a an outright reduction on other OPEC-members, including its political rival and de-facto OPEC-leader Saudi Arabia.

As a result, Barclays said that some form of production cut deal was likely, but the bank added that any such agreement might have little impact on markets.

"We expect OPEC to agree to a face-saving statement," the British bank said, but added that "U.S. tight oil producers can grow production at $50-55 (per barrel) and will capitalize on any opportunity afforded to them by an OPEC cut".

Beyond the talk of a potential production cut, there were also signs of ongoing market weakness.

Japan, the world's fourth biggest oil consumer, on Monday reported a fall of 9.5 percent in crude oil imports in October from the same month a year earlier, to 2.78 million barrels per day.

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Politics & Legal

Early Presidential Election Speculation

By Julian Dierkes

November 18 (Mongolia Focus) Nearly half a year after the parliamentary election, some discussions are turning to the presidential election in late June 2017.

One of the aspects that will make this election interesting is that incumbent Pres. Elbegdorj has served two terms as president, preventing him from running for re-election. The field is thus open for new candidates, at least in principle.

Recall that only parties represented in the State Great Khural can nominate candidates for president who then have to resign their party membership and any offices.

The parties that were elected to parliament in June are the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), the Democratic Party (DP), and the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP). All three are likely to nominate a candidate, so we're likely to see a three-way race.

Also recall that the president is elected directly. If s/he secures more than 50% of the vote, s/he is elected. If no candidate gains more than 50%, a run-off will have to be held, though that has not happened in Mongolia.

Will He, or Will He Not Run: M Enkhbold

Given the landslide election victory the MPP won in June, it would have seemed that M Enkhbold as party leader is in full control of the party and is making his own political destiny.

When J Erdenebat was elected prime minister in the UIX with M Enkhbold taking the chairman role in parliament, that seemed to indicate that he was trying to stay out of the day-to-day politics of the executive in preparation for a nomination as the MPP's presidential candidate. This seemed particularly plausible since the MPP government is so constrained by the budget situation that it is unlikely to be able to point to any achievements by next summer.

That is not to say that M is unopposed in the MPP. He's long had a rivalry with U Khurelsukh. But since parliament has started meeting, Nyamdorj Ts has become very active and vocal, particularly around the hearings regarding the "privatization" of Erdenet. Either of these two rivals could also stand in as a presidential candidate.

Why would M forego the opportunity to run for president?

He might be worried about not winning. I don't have the sense that M is particularly popular, nor is he charismatic. Will voters have second thoughts about handing the MPP a super-majority in parliament? Will they thus prefer a DP president as a check on parliament? That calculation will surely depend very much on whom the DP nominates. The DP party congress on December 6 might give some hints on that, but nothing conclusive. And, whom will the MPRP nominate?

He would have to give up the party chairmanship. Whether or not M would win the election, he would have to resign his party role to be nominated. If he resigns from the party, one of his rivals might make a play for the chairmanship, leaving M with a fancy title and constitutional role (if he wins), but no party to exercise power.

Possible DP Candidates

There are a number of different scenarios on whom the DP might nominate as a presidential candidate.

Doing a Putin

As early as the middle of last year, someone mentioned to me that Pres. Elbegdorj might try to "do a Putin", i.e. to place a Medvedev-like figure in the presidency to then make a comeback (possibly via a government position) to another presidential run in 2021. I have dismissed that as absurd in the past, largely because I continue to be convinced that Elbegdorj harbours international ambitions, ideally as head of a UN agency or in some other prominent UN role.

The Medvedev-figure would likely be P Tsagaan, erstwhile finance minister and long-time chief of staff to Elbegdorj. A number of people have mentioned that he may be preparing for a bid.

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Is privatization the right move?

November 18 (UB Post) The decision to privatize six state-owned companies was made following the ratification of the 2017 state budget on November 10. Privatization is nothing new to Mongolia.

Since the democratic revolution in 1990, most major state-owned enterprises have been privatized. The remaining state-owned companies failed to make a profit or to even function properly. According to Finance Minister B.Choijilsuren, the govern- ment will be forced to privatize the remaining state-owned companies if operations do not improved, as a reported 70 percent of state-run companies have revenue deficits. Is mass privatization is the answer to the woes of state-owned enterprises?

It has been widely recognized around the world that a government owning too many companies can do more harm than good. International experience has generally shown that a government cannot handle many companies and still operate profitably. Privatization can bring improved efficiency to a business, as political interference can result in poor economic decisions. Governments tend to make decisions based on political pressure rather than sound business or economic sense. Since private businesses have an obligation to their shareholders, it is likely that privatization will provide incentive to cut costs and ambitions to work profitably. In certain cases, privatization can also increase competition, which is beneficial to the consumer. In the 1980s, major privatization efforts were initiated in the UK by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and it bore positive results. For example, in 1986, one share of British Gas was valued at 135 pence, but in 2013, one share was valued at 11.09 GBP. Judging from the current situation of Mongolia's economy, and given the government's bad management of companies, it seems pretty cut and dry that privatization is the correct move.

Some readers might then wonder why there are any state-owned companies left at all. It is important to also take into account the vast number of disadvantages that come with privatization. The concept of privatization can seem good on paper, especially in Mongolia's case. The government releases poorly managed companies to shareholders, who will in turn operate the company much more efficiently. However, it is wrong to apply this blanket statement to all state-owned companies.

It is hard to deny that most private businesses are run more effectively than public companies. But what we need to take into account is that there are certain sectors and companies that the government needs to be involved in. Recently, the decision to privatize six state-owned companies included Telecom Mongolia and Mongol Post. The telecommunications sector and the postal service are part of the integral infrastructure of any country. There is no denying that privatization of these two companies would probably increase efficiency and profits, yet selling these types of key companies could be detrimental to everyone involved, except for shareholders. The ones who have the most to lose are the consumers. It is very likely that the price of essential services will increase. The reality is that businesses look out for their shareholders, while the government prioritizes the interests of the general public.

The benefit of efficiency that comes with privatization can be a double-edged sword. Increasing efficiency usually involves the letting go of hundreds of workers. A business is not obligated to employ people it deems unnecessary for operations. This can result in an increase in the unemployment rate. While this won't have a dramatic effect on companies based in UB, it will have a large impact on the employees of the soon-to-be-private Erdenet Bulgan Electricity Distribution Network.

In addition, it is very hard to hold private companies accountable, meaning that Erdenet Bulgan Electricity Distribution Network could, for example, jack up electricity prices and the government would have a hard time countering it. The threat of monopolies also persists, as a sole supplier of electricity (such as the Erdenet network) can make decisions about prices and services that ultimately only benefit the company and its shareholders.

As this trend of privatization looks like it will continue, there have been murmurs of the government selling many other integral companies, such as MIAT Mongolian Airlines. The notion of selling large infrastructural sectors to anyone willing to buy them can be dangerous. Privatizing companies that are not integral to the country, such as Orgil Hot Springs, can be beneficial. The main point is that there are certain sectors that are vital to a nation. Rapidly privatizing companies such as Mongol Post, without assessing the situation, can be negative, as privatization can be risky and very hard to reverse.

There have also been concerns that the companies that the government is planning to sell have been undervalued. This would negatively affect everyone involved except the buyers. The government would be letting go of future dividends, while selling valuable companies below market prices.

These observations are not intended to discourage and demonize the notion of privatization. We have seen the positive effects that privatization can have when done correctly. The question is whether Mongolia is at a point where it can be done correctly and openly.

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Nov 26 Independence Day officially announces as public holiday

November 18 (gogo.mn) November 26, the Independence Day is announced officially as non-working day. 

Draft law on Celebrating Public Festivals and Memorable Days was approved today at the regular meeting of the State Great Khural.

November 26, 1924 was the day that Mongolia declared itself as an independent country with the adoption of its first constitution.

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Mongolia to mark 25th anniversary of democratic constitution

November 18 (news.mn) The 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Mongolian Democratic Constitution will be marked on 13th of January, 2017. The first convocation of the National Great Khural (parliament), at which the Constitution was adopted and many landmark documents signed, lasted 63 days.

To mark the anniversary, several events will be organized. Interviews with deputies of National Great Khural will be presented on TV and media sites. The previous constitutions will also be marked. Entitled the "National Great Khural of the People's Republic of Mongolia and Constitution' a photo exhibition and conference to take place on 20th of December. The annual national wrestling competition will be held on 13th of January 2017 in Ulaanbaatar.

The first constitution of the Mongolian People's Republic, or People's Republic of Mongolia, was passed by the First People's Great Khural on November 26th 1924. Until the new constitution of Mongolia was adopted on January 13, 1992 and the socialist period came to an end, there were two further constitutions, in 1940 and 1960. With the 1992 Democratic Constitution, Mongolia began dramatic political reforms and the transition to a democratic society.

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Business

Distributors tasked to reserve 30-day fuel

Ulaanbaatar, November 18 (MONTSAME) The cabinet gave an obligation to Minister of Ts.Dashdorj to assign 16 fuel importing companies to stockpile a 30-day reserve, which equals to 81,900 tons of fuel.

The assignment, in specific, is to secure reserves of 7,530 tons of petrol A-80, 28,200 tons of A-92, 48,900 tons of diesel fuel, and in total over 84,720 tons of fuel.

In the period between August of 2015 and August of 2016, the 16 companies and other entities imported a total of 982 thousand tons of petrol and diesel fuels.

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Business integrity roundtable focuses on corruption

November 18 (UB Post) On November 16, Transparency International Mongolia and the British Embassy organized the roundtable discussion "Business Integrity and Its Value".

The roundtable was attended by representatives from notable Mongolian businesses and enterprises. The keynote speaker was Dr. Mark Lovatt, CEO of Trident Integrity. Dr. Lovatt spoke to the attendees about his experience in business integrity and the impact of corruption. Prior to leading Trident Integrity, Dr. Lovatt was the Business Integrity Program Manager at Transparency International Malaysia. In his presentation, he reported that overall, corruption reduces efficiency and increases inequality. Estimates show that the cost of corruption around the world equals more than five percent of global GDP, 2.6 trillion USD according to the World Economic Forum, with over one trillion USD paid in bribes each year according to World Bank. The economic cost of corruption, the risk of prosecution, and the risk of damage to a company's reputation were noted as the three main negative impacts corruption can have on a business.

Going into detail about the setbacks that a business can face, Dr. Lovatt spoke about legal penalties and damaged reputations. The UK Bribery Act of 2010 and the United State's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act were both mentioned in his presentation as far reaching legislative acts that can dole out large fines or administrative action. Dr. Lovatt's brought up these legislations to tell cautionary tales of large corporations being embroiled in far-reaching corruption scandals. He stressed that business integrity is becoming one of the most important factors that foreign companies consider when looking for partners in countries such as Mongolia. He emphasized, "The internet never forgets," reminding his audience that corruption scandals can have irreversible consequences for businesses.

The remainder of Dr. Lovatt's presentation was on ways to accredit a company's anti-corruption policies. These included the newly created ISO 37001 anti-bribery management systems standard, and the use of auditing as a way to prove the integrity of an enterprise.

The event's roundtable discussion gave attendees the chance to raise points and ask questions. CEO of Tenger Insurance LLC Oybek N. Khalilov was vocal with his concerns about the expense of financing audits and implementing international standards such as the ISO 37001. The Compliance Officer of Oyu Tolgoi, S.Gerelmaa, highlighted the policies that OT has in place concerning corruption and bribery. She gave details about the whistleblowing mechanism in place in order to prevent corruption and to protect the integrity and reputation of OT. The Corporate Relations Manager of the Corporate Governance Development Center, B.Jargalan, reported on the ways that their organization has been contributing to a decrease in corruption. She highlighted the organization's Annual Reporting Award, which is given annually to 20 businesses making strides in corporate governance reporting.

During the roundtable discussion and in their closing remarks, representatives from Transparency International Mongolia highlighted how the government has implemented an anti-corruption action plan for the first time since 2010. Transparency International Mongolia documented all the obstacles and issues that attendees raised during the roundtable and said that they will use the information to improve their efforts to eliminate corruption in Mongolia.

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Colorful and stylish "Erdenes" felt handbags

November 18 (gogo.mn) -How did "Erdenes" brand start? 

-I am interested in fashion. I always wanted to do something in fashion sector. I started to study fashion since 2014. At that time, eco products boomed in the market. Thus, I thought it would be cool to produce bags using felt. Mongolians have been using felt and felt products from ancient times. However, we use only grey felt. Therefore, I decided to produce stylish handbags using colored felt. I started to study the major handbag brands of the world. They have used cotton felt in their new handbags since 2014 and it has became a new trend. Thus, I started my business in Mongolia. Our first product was released on Jan, 2016. 

-How many products have you released ever since?

-I have not counted yet. Technically, we produce bags and small goods such as, handbag, backpack, clutch, notebook cover, pencil case, iPhone, tablet and iPad case, notebook case, passport wallet, keychain and business card holder. 

-Colors of your products are pretty awesome. Where do you purchase the raw materials?

-We use processed felt. Currently, we have not found the supplier of colored felt from Mongolia. We purchase our raw materials from Australia and process it in China. Our felt is standard felt fine wool sheep and have width of 2-3 mm.

-What is the advantage of felt products? 

-Felt bags are lighter than leather bags. Also felt is eco-friendly material and it is the biggest advantage of our products. We conducted more research on eco-friendly materials and even our customer orders bag without leather. Felt backpack warms your back when you carry them in the winter. However, it is suitable for any season. 

-I think the felt products are prone to pilling and require care. 

-Our felt products are made with fine-wool thus the pilling will not occur. Moreover, it does not require special care. We spray nano protection for our products. The only risk that should be considered is shrinking when exposed to water. Therefore, stay away from rain. 

-Where do you sell the products? 

-At first, we sold our products through Facebook. Today, our products are available at the  Gumuda Concept Store and Lhamour Creative Store. People usually come to our studio as well. 

-Who does the product design?  

-I love fashion. I make designs on my own. I have not qualified as fashion designer. Therefore, I needed to conduct more research. It takes much time to produce one product such as, molding and experiment. Once my mother told me that bag is geometric shapes and that word inspired me. I love maths. My mother`s word changed my angle. 

-What is your future goal? I heard that you received orders from abroad. Do you have plan to export your products? 

-We have just become popular in Mongolia. On the other hand, Mongolian market is not big. Thus, we aim to be fully acknowledged in Mongolia and will export our products further. We are looking for another material. Now we use felt and leather. Currently, we received orders from individuals living in Kuwait, Australia, Japan and the United States and South Korea. Today we sent the order to Canada. Therefore, we hope that there is an opportunity of exporting our products to foreign markets. 

-What is your advice to start-up businesses?

-When you start something, you will face many challenges. Even there will be many ups and downs. Rent and salary were the major problem to us. 

In addition, it is significant to define the business vision. My family supports me all the time and gives me courage. Thus, it is important to choose a partner who will support and encourage you. 

For more information on "Erdenes" brand, click HERE or contact at 976-88089933. 

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Ulaanbaatar

Mayor appeals for citizens' participation in snow plowing

Ulaanbaatar, November 18 (MONTSAME) On November 18, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold made a press statement where he called the mass for help in snow removal. The heavy snowfall, which began around 6.00 p.m yesterday and is going on still, resulted in a layer of snow 20 cm thick.

 This is a force majeure, said the Mayor. Within the course of last winter, it had snowed 13 times. However, this year, only a month after the beginning of winter, it snowed 13 times already, he stated.

"The weather departments are giving out prognosis that this snowfall is likely to continue for a while. I wish all residents, entities and organizations in Ulaanbaatar to be well prepared. The UB City Street Maintenance Department has been working in well-built emergency readiness since 00 hour of last night, with 149 persons and 41 trucks in 116 streets", informed Mr Batbold.

While announcing that the public service and administrative organizations will be working tomorrow to take their parts in snow removals, the Mayor appealed for all individuals and private organizations to take active parts in these works.

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Ulaanbaatar to receive $250,000 grant from World Bank to improve ger district heating

November 18 (news.mn) The World Bank is to implement a USD 250 thousand project in Ulaanbaatar to improve heating and other energy sector projects. According to World Bank energy economist Yun We, the project will be a free grant aimed at decreasing air-pollution in the so-called 'ger districts' of the Mongolian capital.

P.Bayarkhuu, who is deputy of the infrastructure development authority in the Ulaanbaatar City Administration, had a meeting with economist Yun We earlier today (18th of November).

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Diplomacy

Dalai Lama preaches in Mongolia, risking China's fury

By Ganbat Namjilsangarav

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, November 19 (AP) — The Dalai Lama preached to thousands of Buddhists in Mongolia despite demands from China that the visit by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader be scrapped, at a time Mongolia seeks a critical aid package from its powerful neighbor.

The Dalai Lama addressed followers at the Gandantegchenlin monastery on Saturday and spoke about materialism at the start of a four-day visit that Mongolia says is purely religious in nature and won't include meetings with officials.

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to chant special sutras at a large sports facility built by Chinese companies through Chinese aid.

The trip could have repercussions for land-locked Mongolia's relationship with China, which protested previous visits by the Dalai Lama by briefly closing its border in 2002 and temporarily canceling flights from Beijing in 2006.

China's Foreign Ministry had demanded that the Dalai Lama's visit be canceled. Spokesman Geng Shuang said Friday that the Dalai Lama is a "political exile who has long been engaging in splitting China activities in the name of religion with the aim of alienating Tibet from China."

Geng appealed to Mongolia to maintain "the general picture of a sound and steady development of bilateral ties (and) earnestly stick to its commitment on Tibet-related issues."

The Dalai Lama has been based in India since fleeing Tibet during an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

His visit comes as Mongolian leaders are seeking a $4.2 billion loan from Beijing to pull the country out of a deep recession. With commodity prices slumping, Mongolia is running out of hard currency to repay foreign debts and is seeking help from a neighbor that accounts for roughly 90 percent of its exports.

Mongolian Buddhism is closely tied to Tibet's strain and many in the heavily Buddhist country revere the Dalai Lama, who made his first visit in 1979.

Mongolian religious figures say the visit could be the last for the 81-year-old spiritual leader, and some of his followers traveled hundreds of miles to see him while braving the coldest November temperatures in a decade.

Daritseren, an ethnic Mongolian from Russian Siberia, said she only heard on Friday that the Dalai Lama was visiting and traveled with 40 other people for 15 hours overnight to make it just in time for the sermon.

Boldbaatar, a 75-year-old herder, said he rushed from 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.

"I'm an old man," he said. "Maybe I'm seeing His Holiness, the incarnation of Lord Buddha, for the last time."

Religious scholars said the Dalai Lama is expected to offer input on the search for the 10th reincarnation of the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, a top-ranked lama in Buddhism.

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Related:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Arrives to a Warm Welcome in MongoliaCentral Tibetan Administration, November 19

Dalai Lama statements:

Arrival in Mongolia and Visit to Gandan Tegchenling Monastery, November 19

A Day of Buddhist Teachings in the Mongolian Capital, November 20

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China says Dalai Lama's Mongolia visit could harm ties

November 20 (Reuters) China urged Mongolia on Sunday to take steps to protect the two countries' relations after the Dalai Lama visited the central Asian country at the weekend, despite Beijing repeatedly voicing its opposition.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader arrived in Mongolia on Friday to meet Mongolian Buddhist leaders, according to his website.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, in a statement, said Mongolia should "adopt effective measures to eliminate the negative effects of the Dalai Lama's visit, in order to prevent the disruption of the healthy development of China-Mongolia relations."

Mongolia had repeatedly ignored China's cautions against allowing the visit, much to Beijing's dissatisfaction, the statement said.

Beijing frequently expresses its anger with countries that host the 81-year old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising against the Chinese.

After the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia in 2006, China canceled flights between Beijing and Ulaanbaatar. Flights later resumed.

China regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist, though he says he merely seeks genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland Tibet, which Communist Chinese troops "peacefully liberated" in 1950.

Rights groups and exiles accuse China of trampling on the religious and cultural rights of the Tibetan people, charges strongly denied by Beijing, which says its rule has brought prosperity to a once backward region.

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Related:

China urges Mongolia to eliminate negative impacts of Dalai Lama visit – Xinhua, November 20

Dalai Lama visits Mongolia over China's objections – AFP-Jiji, November 20

The Dalai Lama's Visit to Mongolia Indicate Shape of Things to Happen – Sri Lanka Guardian, November 20

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Schedule of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Mongolia

November 18, ULAANBAATAR (GoGo Mongolia) - 9th visit of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Mongolia starts today (Nov 18). 

We deliver you the schedule of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Mongolia during Nov 18-22, reported by the Press and Public Relations Department of the Gandantegchilen Center of Buddhism in Mongolia.  

Friday, 18 November 2016

20:30 acclaim/reception or to arrive His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Chingis Khaan international airport. /Buddhism Center in Mongolia's Ikh Khamba, Gavj Choijamts D and other lamas/

Saturday, 19 November 2016

13:05 – 13:15 Greeting speech to Mongolian people from His Holiness the Dalai Lama /at the Gandantegchilen temple, open air in front of Janraisag/

Sunday, 20 November 2016

09:30 – 11:30 The 14th Dalai Lama will mouth Bogd Lama Van and Jegjidiin Tsevan to all lamas and faithful. /at UB Palace/

13:00 – 15:00 continue of his pray. /at UB Palace/

Monday, 21 November 2016

09:30 – 11:00 Science and Buddhism forum with His Holiness Dalai Lama and Mongolian lamas, university professors. /Central Culture Palace or Cultural Center Palace/

13:00-15:00 Forum will continue / Central Culture Palace or Cultural Center Palace/

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 

09:00 – 11:00 Ceremony to hand Honored Doctor of University of Life Science to His Holiness Dalai Lama /at University of Life Science/

13:00 – 15:00 His Holiness Dalai Lama will meet students and youths. / Central Culture Palace or Cultural Center Palace/

Wednesday, 23 November 2016 

07:45 – 08:00 His Holiness Dalai Lama will meet with/to journalists. /at Ikh Tenger complex/
08:45 The Head of Mongolia Buddhism Center, gavj Choijamts D and other lamas will see off His Holiness Dalai Lama from Chingis Khaan international airport.

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Speaker of Parliament meets the ambassadors of India and Japan

November 19 (UB Post) Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold received the ambassadors of India and Japan to discuss ongoing cooperation and projects that have been implemented in Mongolia with the support of their governments.

During his meeting with Ambassador of India to Mongolia Suresh Babu, Speaker M.Enkhbold noted the importance of the one billion USD loan facility that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced would be granted to finance megaprojects.

The Speaker also spoke highly of India and Mongolia's relations in defense, culture, and education, and said that new financial and civil aviation cooperation should be effectively developed. Ambassador Babu stated that he hopes the implementation of agreements that were signed during the visits of Prime Minister Modi and Speaker of the Indian Parliament's Lower House Sumitra Mahajan will be important in developing cooperation between the two countries.

The Indian Ambassador asked the Speaker to focus on opening the one billion USD credit line, launching a direct flight between Delhi and Ulaanbaatar by operating partnered flights, establishing an Indian-Mongolian school in Ulaanbaatar, and working to open an information technology, communications, and outsourcing center in Ulaanbaatar.

Ambassador Babu said that nearly 100 public service employees out of 200 approved to attend, have participated in training programs in India. He added that the remaining scholarship recipients should be permitted to train in India before the Indian government's 2016 fiscal year concludes in March 2017.

In Speaker M.Enkhbold's meeting with outgoing Ambassador of Japan to Mongolia Takenori Shimizu, the Speaker pointed out that during Ambassador Shimizu's five-year mission, cooperation between the two countries has been taken to the strategic partnership level, and a growing number of effective visits by high-level Mongolian and Japanese government representatives have taken place.

He highlighted that the strategic partnership agreement now being carried out has been important to strengthening bilateral relations. Ambassador Shimizu noted that an agreement on a mid-term cooperation program is expected to be signed before the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Mongolia.

He said, "I think that Japan should lead Mongolia to the global market by providing technical cooperation assistance." The Japanese Ambassador underlined that Parliament should expedite discussions concerning the management of Khushig Valley International Airport, which is being built with Japanese financing. Speaker M.Enkhbold said that it has been discussed by Cabinet and that Parliament will concentrate on reviewing the Japanese offer to take on operational management of the new airport.

At the end of their meeting, the Speaker emphasized that the state and the people of Mongolia greatly appreciate the work Ambassador Shimizu has accomplished during his mission in Mongolia.

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Mogi: thank you for your service to MPP's election win

Two former prime ministers appointed ambassadors

November 18 (UB Post) Following Cabinet and Foreign Policy Standing Committee approval, Parliament approved President Ts.Elbegdorj's nominees for new foreign ambassadors. Two former Prime Ministers were appointed, and other nominees were experienced diplomats with specialized careers in representing Mongolia in the international arena.

During Parliament's review of the nominees, MPs asked about their plans for their respective diplomatic missions abroad. L.Battulga, appointed Ambassador of Mongolia to Kazakhstan, said that he will concentrate on expanding economic cooperation between Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

D.Bilegdorj, Ambassador of Mongolia to Vietnam, noted that Vietnam is a long-time friend to Mongolia and a member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He said he will focus on developing the relationship between Mongolia and ASEAN.

Z.Chintushig, Ambassador of Mongolia to Kuwait, told the MPs that he will carry out his mission within the framework of the implementation of the 2016-2020 government action plan.

R.Bold, Ambassador of Mongolia to Turkey, highlighted that relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Turkey have been increasing in recent years, so he will work in ways that will be optimal to further developing economic cooperation. He noted that there over 400 Mongolian students now studying in Turkey, and he will study additional ways to collaborate with Turkey in education.

G.Battungalag, Ambassador of Mongolia to Austria, said that she plans to focus on increasing the number of Mongolian students pursuing degrees in Austria, and improving economic cooperation.

O.Och, Ambassador of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Belgium, said that he will work on developing economic cooperation with Belgium as one of Mongolia's third neighbors.

N.Naranbat, Ambassador of Mongolia to the Czech Republic, stressed that he will focus on moving investment and economic cooperation forward, promoting Mongol studies in the Czech Republic, and providing the 5,600 Mongolians living there with fast and accessible services.

D.Batsaikhan, Ambassador of Mongolia to Bulgaria, noted that Mongolia and Bulgaria have historically been friends, but that trade and economic cooperation between the two countries need to improve.

Former Prime Minister M.Enkhsaikhan, newly appointed Ambassador of Mongolia to Sweden, said that he will work to develop relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Northern European countries.

Former Prime Minister S.Bayar, newly appointed Ambassador of Mongolia to the United Kingdom, said, "Diplomats don't work for what they want, and they must work for their state's instructions, so I will work for what the Government of Mongolia instructs me to."

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Mongolia, Greece can cooperate in agriculture and tourism

Ulaanbaatar, November 18 (MONTSAME) Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil met with Ambassador of Greece to Mongolia Leonidas Rokanas on November 17. The Ambassador briefed the FM on Greek Government's actions for handling the current political economic situations.

The dignitaries deemed Mongolia and Greece have possibilities to boost cooperation in the areas of agriculture, tourism and trade.

Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil congratulated Ambassador Rokanas for having presented his credentials and said he hopes that the new ambassador would make a real contribution to strengthening bilateral ties.

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Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas

November 17 (UB Post) Alliance Francaise de Mongolie, Goethe Institut Mongolei and Monsudar Publishing Company will jointly organize a movie screening at iCinema on November 20.

French-German drama film "Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas" will be screened at the event. The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

In the 16th century in the Cevennes, a horse dealer by the name of Michael Kohlhaas leads a happy family life. When a lord treats him unjustly, he raises an army and puts the country to fire and sword in order to have his rights restored.

Details

Where: iCinema, State Department Store

When: November 20, 6:30 p.m.

Admission: Free

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Health & Education

Helipad to be built at National Trauma Centre

November 18 (Mongolian Economy) A working group appointed by the order of the Minister of Road and Transportation Development developed a study on possible locations to build helipads for use of emergency services.

The working group studied locations such as the rooftop of six-story parking lot planned to be built next to the First Central Hospital; the rear of the Emergency Medical Service Centre; along the bank of the Selbe River; at the southwest of the National Traumatology and Orthopaedics Rehabilitation Centre (NTORC); on top of the Mongolian National Burn Centre building; and on top of the University Hospital of the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences.

Currently, the bank of the Selbe River and the NTORC have been chosen. Plans for additional works have been developed and will be presented to the relevant authorities.

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TEDxAmerican School of Ulaanbaatar on November 19

November 17 (UB Post) The American School of Ulaanbaatar is set to host TEDx American School of Ulaanbaatar on November 19.

TEDx American School of Ulaanbaatar will celebrate ideas, curiosity, and conversation. The event caters to youth in middle and high school with a theme of "What Now?"

This event will feature youth and adult speakers as well as a screening of selected interesting and thought-provoking videos from the TEDYouth playlist.

Details

Where: American School of Ulaanbaatar

When: November 19, 12:30 p.m.

Admission: 20,000 MNT

More Information: 94144644

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Culture & Society

Reminder: ACMS Speaker Series: William Taylor – Origins of Horse Herding

November 21 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

The Origins of Horse Herding and Transport in the Eastern Steppe

In the dry steppes of eastern Eurasia, domestic horses (E. caballus) provide the economic and cultural foundations of nomadic life. With no written records and sparse archaeological data, the ecological context of the first horse herding and transport – and its role in the formation of nomadic pastoral societies – is poorly understood. Some of the earliest evidence for domestic horses in the region come from small ritual horse burials found at stone monuments and burials known as deer stones and khirigsuurs, which date to the late second millennium BCE. Archaeozoological investigations reveal that these people selectively bred horses, practicing sophisticated herd management and equine dentistry. Analysis of anthropogenic changes to the equine skull indicate that these animals were bridled and used for transport, and may have engaged in early mounted horseback riding. Finally, a precision radiocarbon model suggests a rapid expansion of domestic horse use across Mongolia around ca. 1200 BCE. This expansion occurred in the context of climate amelioration, concurrent with both major changes in ritual practice and the spread of horses to new parts of the continent. These results     provide compelling links between the adoption of horseback riding, new ecological opportunities, and the development of mobile pastoralism in the Mongolian steppe. Future research will explore the subject of when and why other domestic animals were adopted in Mongolia, and investigate the effects of horse riding on mobility and interaction across eastern Eurasia.

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Nature & Environment

Coldest winter in 100 years? Not so fast

By Jesse Brooks

November 20 (UB Post) Just over a week ago, chilling news rapidly spread throughout Ulaanbaatar: the incoming winter season promised to be the coldest in the last hundred years. First published by Montsame News Agency, the recent article claimed, "German meteorologist Dominik Jung said the 2016-2017 winter season promises to be 'unusually cold' ever recorded in last 100 years [sic]. The Mongolian Research Institute for Hydrology and Meteorology agrees with the European scholar and warns Mongolia is also expecting such a winter."

With the past weekend's cold spell, immediate acceptance of this prediction did not require too much of a stretch of one's imagination. Particularly after the recent frigid weekend, a similarly unforgiving winter felt almost imminent. But the coldest winter of the century?

While news outlets believe so, key experts suggest otherwise. Dominik Jung's aforementioned quote, for instance, comes from a report that the scholar published in October, in which Jung only warned about Europe's record temperatures. As a follow-up, Accuweather meteorologist Joe Bastardi substantiated Jung's claims.

"It will be very cold," Bastardi explains, "based on the fact that this coming winter will be marked by the arrival of Arctic air masses coming down over most of Europe."

Neither Bastardi, nor Jung, make any mention of the Asian winter, let alone Mongolia.  Furthermore, on November 11, two days after several larger Asian publications picked up on the story, Jung, amusingly took to Twitter to laugh off the misinterpreted information—sarcastically tweeting that the news article was "good to know".

When asked about his chilling prediction, Jung told The UB Post that, in fact, "No! I never spoke to anybody in Mongolia."

In addition, the Mongolian Research Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology also emphasized that they cannot predict that this winter will be the worst of the century. P.Gomboo, the institute's Director of Climate Change, supposes that the journalists "mixed it up".

"We never called this the coldest winter, and we cannot say conclusively that this will be the coldest winter in a 100 years." P.Gomboo smiles and adds, "But our outlook is definitely cold, and with unusually heavy snowfall."

While P.Gomboo debunked the "winter of the century" warning, he wants to stress that beach season is also not on the horizon. Without making any long-term forecasts, the institute estimates that November and December will have unusually low temperatures — dipping as low as -45 degrees Celsius in the coming weeks.

Mongolians have already experienced a difficult year due to the dramatic shifts in climate. In June, a dry spell wiped out nearly fifty percent of the country's crops. Moreover, past years have seen an increasing rate of dzuds — a winter disaster that kills millions of livestock nationwide. The dry summer, coupled with the winter's heavy snowfall and low temperatures, may create additional severe consequences for nomadic herders.

Mongolians are experiencing climate change in "real life" says P.Gomboo, and people are suffering.

This year, however, herders are making preparations to outlast the long winter. According to Ollo.mn, herders have stored nearly 208 tons of fodder for livestock, with province reserves storing an additional 3,722 tons of fodder. The length of the winter season — and the amount of snowfall — will dictate whether these fodder reserves prove sufficient.

Winter has arrived early this year and will stay late. While this may not be the coldest winter of the century, for many Mongolians, it certainly may feel like it.

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Global Giving UK: Snow Leopards Of Mongolia

Summary

Found across 12 countries in the mountainous regions of central Asia, only c.5,000 snow leopards now survive in the wild. Threatened by poachers and human activity, these elusive cats are coming into conflict with herders and losing their habitat to mining. To counter the threats, we work with local communities to support alternative livelihood and conservation bonus schemes, run conservation education programmes, campaign to create protected areas and fund research into the habits of the cats.

What is the issue, problem, or challenge?

A warming climate, the expansion of human activity and poaching are putting the snow leopards under threat. By working with the local community, many of whom live on under $2 a day, we provide alternative livelihood schemes and conservation bonuses to deter them from poaching and from killing snow leopards in retaliation for attacks on their livestock. Our education programme helps communities understand the value of conserving wildlife and, working with them, we can secure key protected areas.

How will this project solve this problem?

By providing alternative incomes and conservation incentives herders are less likely to kill snow leopards. And, by working with local communities we are able to campaign for the protection of key wildlife areas ensuring that mining licenses are not issued and that precious habitats are secured for the long-term benefit of herders and snow leopards alike. In addition, funding research into these elusive cats generates vital data that helps identify and target prime areas for protection.

Potential Long Term Impact

Addressing the issues facing snow leopards, including monitoring and research, raising awareness and engaging local communities, tackling large scale mining and providing alternative livelihoods we are able to have a positive impact upon wildlife, its habitat the local people of the region. With increasing pressure on their habitat, it is vital that holistic solutions such as these continue to be supported in order to provide long-term futures for snow leopards and local communities alike.

Funding Information

Total Funding Received to Date: £25
Remaining Goal to be Funded: £12,063
Total Funding Goal: £12,088

Additional Documentation

This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).

Resources

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Sports

Weightlifter M.Ankhtsetseg becomes University World champion

November 18 (news.mn) Mongolian female weightlifter M.Ankhtsetseg has become champion at the World University Weightlifting Championships. The announcement was made yesterday (17th November). The competition took place from 13th to 17th of November in Merida, Mexico. The young Mongolian competed in the women's 75 kg category and lifted 105 kg in a snatch and 130 kg in clean and jerk, thereby becoming World Champion. In her category, an athlete from Mexico took silver whilst a Canadian took bronze. M.Ankhtsetseg was the only athlete from Mongolia to participate in the competition's women's 75kg category and first athlete to take a medal from the competition. She injured her arm while lifting 136kg and a Canadian coach helped her.

A few days ago, M.Ankhtsetseg also won gold at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tokyo.  As we have reported, due to financial difficulties, M.Ankhtsetseg was forced to participate in the two competitions without her coach Ts.Khosbayar.

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Related:

M.Ankhtsetseg wins gold in Merida few days after championing in TokyoMontsame, November 18

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Mongolian girl becomes honoured athlete of Kazakhstan

November 18 (news.mn) A young Mongolian athlete, who is Olympic bronze medalist judoka, has been awarded the title of "honoured athlete of Kazakhstan". G.Otgontsetseg, aged 24, who took bronze at the Rio Olympics, now becomes the third judoka to be an honoured athlete in Kazakhstan.

On Tuesday (16th of November), G.Otgontsetseg became champion of the National Judo Cup of Kazakhstan for the second time. The young Mongolian defeated all her rivals clearly in the women's 48kg category.

G.Otgontsetseg took the first medal for Kazakhstan at the Rio-2016 Olympic Games in August. She has been representing the Central Asian country since 2015, during which time, she has taken five gold, two silver and three bronze in international 10 competitions including the Olympics, the Asian Judo Championship and the Grand Slam. The International Judo Federation has named her best judoka of the year. G.Otgontsetseg will compete at the Grand Slam to be held in Tokyo from  2nd  to 4th of December.

Her coach, fellow Mongolian, D.Enkhbaatar signed an agreement to train the Kazakh team until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He starts work in November.

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Art & Entertainment

Baritone G.Ariunbaatar to perform Carmen's Escamillo in South Korea

November 18 (news.mn) The famous Mongolian opera singer G.Ariunbaatar will perform the role of Escamillo in the opera 'Carmen' in South Korean. Bizet's best-known opera will open at the Seongnam Opera Theatre on 24th of November. Since the first performance in 1875, the French composer's masterpiece has played for over 140 years in countless opera houses around the world.

The Grand Prix Winner of the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition and soloist of St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, G.Ariunbaatar was awarded the Order of Chinggis Khaan by the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj on October 31st. Order of Chinggis Khaan is highest state award of Mongolia.

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Dreamers' Day: The Look of Silence at iCinema

November 17 (UB Post) Dreamers' Day is ready to screen its 226th film on November 19 at iCinema. Internationally co-produced documentary film about the Indonesia killing of 1965-1966 "The Look of Silence" will be shown.

An Indonesian man with a communist background named Ramli was brutally murdered when the Communist purge occurred in 1965. His remaining family members lived in fear and silence until the making of this documentary.

Details

Where: iCinema, State Department Store

When: November 19, 5:00 p.m.

Admission: 4,000 MNT

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Mongolian YouTube Hits at Corporate Convention Center, November 18

November 17 (UB Post) Mongolian YouTube Hits will be held at The Corporate Hotel and Convention Center on November 18.

Mongolian artists with the most-watched music videos on YouTube will perform at the event; including rappers Tsetse, Enerel and NMN, singers Orgil, Bayartsesteg, Uka, Maraljingoo, Choijoo, Bayartsengel, Zorigt, Khishigdalai, Freezone, and Three Girls band.

Details

Where: The Corporate Hotel and Convention Center

When: November 18, 7:00 p.m.

Ticket Price: 30,000 MNT

More Information: 1900-1800

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Travel

Ash Dykes: Alone In Mongolia [Trailer #1]

November 20 (Extraordinary Travel) On the 5th of August 2014, Ash Dykes became the first recorded person to complete a solo & unsupported walk across Mongolia.

"I applaud every endeavour to achieve an adventuring 'first', a feat which is becoming harder all the time. This young man's completion of a 'first' solo trek across Mongolia, from the Altai to the Steppe, will have proved both physically and mentally challenging and is an example of great determination". - Sir Ranulph Fiennes

From West to East, Ash trekked 1,500 miles, over the Altai Mountains, through the Gobi Desert & across the Mongolian Steppe, all whilst pulling 120kg (18st) of survival supplies on a homemade trailer.

From Grey Wolves, Snow blizzards, Sandstorms, severe heat exhaustion, Snakes, Semi-wild dogs & Loneliness, to name a few, Ash battled on through the elements, across the second largest land-locked country in the world, in just 78 days, knocking a staggering 22 days off his predicted time.

Ash became known to the locals as "The Lonely Snow Leopard", due to the Snow Leopard being the only predictor to walk alone & the Wolves keeping a respectful distance from them, as they did with Ash.

Ash filmed & blogged his expedition & had people following his journey from all over the world, he hit major news, BBC World News, ITV News etc and the news articles were shared globally & translated into a number of different languages. On completion of his expedition, he was also interviewed on seven different T.V channels within Mongolia and was in the Magazines and News Papers, before his return to the U.K.

Ash won the Welsh Adventurer of the year award 2015 and The National Adventurer of the Year Award – public vote. He was also invited to 10 Downing Street, in order to meet the Prime Minister.

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The Annual Ten Thousand Camel Festival – An Event Not to Be Missed!

November 18 (gogo.mn) Everyone is getting thrilled about winter! Winter is the time for snow, chills, holiday season and fun! In Mongolia, however, there's a bonus – exhilarating winter festivals! One of the festivals is the annual Ten Thousand Camel Festival, held in the middle of the amazing Gobi Desert of Mongolia, and is already one of the most famous winter festivals in the world. This festival was first initiated in 1997 by the locals of Umnugovi (South Gobi) province to celebrate Mongolian camels, to conserve the 2-humped Bactrian camel species, pass the rich Mongolian camel breeding heritage to the next generation, and to promote winter tourism in Mongolia.  

It's an entertaining 2-days of event that features various contests related to Mongolian camel culture and lots of local music and dances. Nomads from far and near wear their best deels and ride their best camels to attend the festival as it's their pride and a big celebration for them.  The date of the Ten Thousand Camel Festival 2017 is 6-7 March (the weather will be much milder!) and the event will take place in Dalanzadgad town of South Gobi.

In 2016, there was a parade of over 1000 camel riders and it was recorded in the Guinness World Record Book during the festival! The organisers "Amazing Gobi" local tourism association and the Governor's Office of Umnugovi province promise this year there will be more interesting events and competitions for everyone!

The brief program* for the Ten Thousand Camel Festival 2017 is:

Day 1. March 6, 2017.

12:00                       Opening Ceremony

13:00                       "Best looking couple on camelback" contest

14:00                       Camel Polo

19:00                       Traditional folklore concert by the local musicians

Day 2. March 7, 2017.

10:00                       Race of 1000 camels

15:00                       Race of Torom (2year old camels)

18:00                       Awarding & Closing Ceremony

*We will give you updates once the program is finalised by the beginning of February.

How to get there: Dalanzadgad town is an easy 7-8hr drive from Ulaanbaatar to the south (all paved road), and there's daily bus service available from Ulaanbaatar.

Currently, Mongolian Tourism Association is working with domestic airlines for special charter flights for the winter festivals in 2017. We will inform you once the flight details are announced.

Where to stay: Once you get to Dalanzadgad there are several hotels and Ger accommodation available. Here's contact of 2 of them:

  • Gobi Oasis Ger camp (comfortable). Tel: 9595-3012.
  • Ger camp (basic). Tel: 9905-5955.

For more info about the festival, please contact the organisers (Amazing Gobi tourism association) at: Phone: 976-9514-4470, or email at n.ariunsanaa@yahoo.com.

And for more comfort, time and cost saving, we encourage travellers to contact local Mongolian travel agencies for package tours to the annual Camel Festival in the Gobi.

Prepared exclusively for GoGo Travel by Zola

(Co-founder of Premium Travel Mongolia LLC.

www.mongoliatravelmarket.com)

Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.

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Bikepacking Mongolia: Magical cycling in the middle of nowhere

For centuries, it's been a byword for the middle of nowhere. That makes Mongolia a magical trip, says David Flanagan.

November 20 (Independent.ie) For the last eight hours my friend Michael and I have been cycling up a remote valley, following a sandy track that weaves its way through grassy meadows, glades of pine and across the occasional stream.

As we get further up the valley, the track gets narrower and fainter until it disappears completely, leaving us with no option but to haul our heavily loaded bikes up a dry stream bed.

There is no sign of the path that is marked on our map. But that's not all that's surprising - the map, the most recent one available, dates from 1970. If we can't find an easier way over the pass we will have to camp here tonight and spend tomorrow retracing our steps.

Eventually, after ditching our bikes and thrashing through the heavy undergrowth, we find a way forward. A hard push up the steep slope brings us to the top of the pass. A vast wilderness of snowy mountains and forested valleys stretches in every direction. There isn't a single road or house. Even for Mongolia, the most sparsely populated country on earth, this is a remote spot.

Outer Mongolia, along with Timbuktu, has long served as a byword for the middle of nowhere. Times are changing - a major new airport is set to open next year, and Lonely Planet lists it as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2017 - but it's not exactly the first place to spring to mind when planning a holiday.

However, if you want to experience a unique culture and a pristine, wild and uncrowded landscape, then it should be on your radar.

Four days ago, Michael and I landed at Chinggis Khaan International Airport just outside Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. UB, as it's known, is a fascinating mix of Buddhist temples, Soviet-era concrete buildings and modern skyscrapers, but after two days of sight-seeing we are itching to start our adventure - a 500km cycle around Ghorkhi-Terelj National Park, carrying everything we need on our bikes and camping along the way.

Our self-sufficient approach is apt, as more than a third of Mongolians still lead a nomadic life, relocating at least twice a year to find fresh grazing for their herds of goats, cows, yak and sheep. Everything a family owns, including their home, must fit on the back of a van or cart. This is why Mongolians have, for over a thousand years, lived in circular wooden framed tents known as gers. They are perfectly suited to the harsh climate - in the heat of summer the dark interior stays cool and during the bitterly cold winters the heavily insulated felt walls and wood-burning stove keep them warm.

In the distant past, Mongols had a reputation as fierce warriors who, under the leadership of Genghis Khan, ruled the largest empire the world has ever seen, but we are struck by the kindness and hospitality of everyone we meet.

Many times strangers invite us into their gers for delicious homemade cheese and salty milk tea. Along the way we get a few opportunities to repay this hospitality in kind, helping to push a truck from the mud and lending our phone so that the driver of a broken down jeep can call for help, for example. And even though we can only communicate with gestures (few Mongolians have any English and our Mongolian is basic, to say the least), it's amazing how much information it's possible to exchange using just your hands and the occasional drawing in the dust.

It turns out that crossing the mountain pass is by far the hardest part of our trip. In fact, the majority of the route is actually pretty easy, following good, reasonably flat tracks. Most days, we cover about 50km, but we aren't in a rush; we stop frequently to relax and enjoy the views, taking care to select a really nice spot to camp each night.

The vast steppe and network of tracks makes Mongolia one of the world's best bike touring destinations, but after a week in the wilderness it's time to make our way back to the city. Our route takes us through Gorkhi, a spectacular valley surrounded by rocky peaks and ridges, at the southern end of the National Park. Only an hour's drive on a good road from Ulaanbaatar, it's very popular with city residents at weekends as well as with travellers on a brief stopover in Mongolia.

There is plenty of accommodation in the valley, mostly ger camps and even a few hotels, so we treat ourselves to a night in a ger equipped with comfortable beds and a wood-burning stove.

That evening we climb the steps up to the Aryabal Buddhist Meditation Centre, a beautiful monastery nestled high up at the head of the valley. It's a very peaceful place to relax and take in the magnificent view across the mountains.

Even through we are dog tired and profoundly hungry, it's with heavy hearts that we pack up for the last time and ride back into the city. The busy road is a shock to the system, a sharp contrast to the quiet meadows, forests and valleys that we have spent the last 10 days exploring. But the thought of a warm shower and a soft bed drive us on, back to civilisation.

What to pack

There can be large temperature fluctuations between night and day, even in summer, so pack plenty of layers. Cash is essential, as there aren't many ATMs outside UB. In the countryside, it can be nice to have something to offer as a gift if you are invited into a ger - a small toy or sweets, for example.

Getting there

It's possible to fly into Ulaanbaatar from Moscow, Istanbul, Seoul and Beijing. If you aren't in a rush, the best way to get there is by rail on the Trans-Siberian, which takes over four days to travel from Moscow to Mongolia.

See visitmongolia.com, seat61.com and bikepacking.com for more info.

30-day visas are required for Irish visitors to Mongolia.

Where to stay

Accommodation in Ulaanbaatar ranges from cheap guest-houses to five-star hotels. Outside the capital options are much more limited, but there are plenty of simple ger camps in most of the popular tourist areas. A stay in one is an essential part of a visit.

See tereljlodge.com or heavenenvoy.mn for examples.

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