Livestock, not Mongolian gazelles, drive foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks

Wildlife health experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society have published evidence which supports the conclusion that Mongolian gazelles—one of the most populous large land mammals on the planet—are not a reservoir of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a highly contagious viral disease that threatens both wildlife and livestock in Asia.
Outbreaks of FMD in Mongolia affect domestic sheep, goats, camels, and cattle as well as Mongolian gazelles. In a country where roughly one-third of the human population relies directly on livestock production for their subsistence, outbreaks of FMD cause severe disruption of the rural economy.
The study, titled "Serosurveillance for Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Mongolian Gazelles (Procapra gutturosa) and Livestock on the Eastern Steppe of Mongolia," appears in the January edition of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases. The authors include: Sanjaa Bolortsetseg, Shiilegdamba Enkhtuvshin, Wendy Weisman, Amanda Fine, Angela Yang, and Damien Joly of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and D. Nyamsuren of the Dornod Aimag Veterinary Laboratory, Choibalsan, Dornod Province, Mongolia.
 IMAGE: A herd of Mongolian gazelles (Procapra gutturosa) migrates across the Eastern Steppe of Mongolia. A decade-long study of foot-and-mouth disease in gazelles has shown that the gazelles do not drive...
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The Mongolian gazelle is a medium-sized antelope with a heart-shaped patch of white fur on its rump. The species gathers in vast migratory herds across Mongolia's Eastern Steppe, considered the largest intact temperate grassland in the world. The gazelle is under pressure from a variety of threats, particularly exploration for oil, gas, and minerals.
The research culminates a decade-long effort to examine the potential role of the gazelles in FMD ecology. In the recently published study (undertaken between 2005-2008), the research team collected blood samples from 36 gazelle calves and 57 adult gazelles in order to determine the prevalence of antibodies to the foot-and-mouth virus (FMDV). The team also collected samples from domestic animals kept in areas frequented by gazelles, including 138 sheep, 140 goats, 139 Bactrian camels, and 138 cattle for comparison.
 IMAGE: A radio/satellite-collared Mongolian gazelle is released.
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The authors found that the patterns of FMDV antibody prevalence in gazelle populations reflect the dynamics of FMD in livestock across the Eastern Steppe of Mongolia. During 1998-99 (outbreak free years in livestock), researchers detected no antibodies in gazelles; conversely, during a FMD outbreak in livestock in 2001, researchers detected a 67 percent prevalence rate in gazelles. The recently published study examines the following outbreak free periods, during which the team noted a declining prevalence in FMDV antibodies in the gazelle population. Based on these observations, the authors conclude that the Mongolian gazelle population is not a reservoir for FMDV on the Eastern Steppe of Mongolia, but rather, the virus enters the gazelle population after spillover from livestock during sporadic outbreaks.
"The successful control of foot-and-mouth disease on the Eastern Steppe will require a program that focuses on livestock populations and entails health monitoring and vaccinations of domestic animals when needed," said WCS veterinary epidemiologist and co-author Shiilegdamba Enkhtuvshin.


Undur Tolgoi Minerals Inc. Announces Winter Work Program Over Mongolian Property

ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA, Jan 30, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Undur Tolgoi Minerals Inc. ("UTM" or the "Company") (cnsx:UTM) is pleased to announce that its Board of Directors has reviewed and unanimously approved an exploration Program (the "Work Program") for the Company's Mongolian property.
The Company's wholly owned license ("Undur Tolgoi") consists of approximately 9,260 hectares of land located approximately 100 kilometers east north east from the world-class copper gold porphyry Oyu Tolgoi.
As the geological setting of Undur Tolgoi appears to be similar to that of Oyu Tolgoi, the aim of the Work Program is to identify any base metals and/or gold anomalies.
The Work Program
A soil sampling program over the entire tenement of approximately 1,540 samples, taken on a 250 meter x 250 meter grid has been designed to identify any anomalous areas within the tenement. Previous work has identified two interesting zones of anomalous copper, gold and silver.
From the results of the soil sampling, a hydrothermal system will hopefully be identified using indicator elements (As, Bi, Li, W, S and Au) and a tighter soil Program may be required to further define the anomalous zones.
A geophysical program will be undertaken over the entire tenement which will include the following:
        1.  Induced Polarization ("IP") survey to identify zones of silicification
            and veining and to assist in identifying areas of disseminated sulphides
            at depth;
        2.  Magnetic survey to understand the nature of the stratigraphy under the
            areas of colluviums that are concealed; and
        3.  Gravity survey to identify contrasting lithologies beneath the colluvial

Magnetic and Gravity surveys will be initially run to gather a baseline of the tenement. After analyzing the results from the Magnetic and Gravity surveys an IP survey will be run over the tenement as IP will be used to tie into the Magnetic and Gravity survey.
The commencement of the Work Program is expected to take place mid to late February 2012 with 1500+ soil samples expected to be delivered to an accredited laboratory located in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, for further analysis. UTM further expects to have the results from the laboratory by mid May 2012.
These results would then be used as the basis from which to determine the appropriate size and placement of the Magnetic, Gravity and IP surveys.
UTM's Chairman, Mr. James Passin, stated, "I am delighted with UTM's progress since completing its financing in November 2011. The entire UTM team is looking forward to the commencement next month of our Work Program over Undur Tolgoi. I thank our shareholders and our employees for their continued support of UTM"
Disclaimer for Forward-Looking Information
Statements containing forward-looking information express, as at the date of this news release, the Company's plans, estimates, forecasts, projections, expectations, or beliefs as to future events or results and are believed to be reasonable based on information currently available to the Company.
Forward-looking statements and information are based on assumptions that financing and personnel will be available when required and on reasonable terms, and all necessary regulatory approvals and shareholder approval will be obtained, none of which are assured and are subject to a number of other risks and uncertainties.
There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate. Actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information.
        Don Padgett
        President and CEO
                    604 689-1515       ext 104

Russia, Mongolia Plan Joint Military Drills

A Russian Army delegation has started a five-day visit to Mongolia to discuss preparations for a joint exercise, the Defense Ministry said on Monday.
The delegation, led by Maj. Gen. Valery Sharagov, chief of staff of a large combined-arms unit in the Eastern Military District, will conduct the first round of consultations on this year’s exercise, Selenga 2012.
It is due to be held on Russian territory.
Last year’s exercise took place in Mongolia and rehearsed counterinsurgency operations with up to 250 troops on each side
Source:Ria Novosti

Deloitte Announces Opening of Deloitte Onch LLC - A New Member Firm in Mongolia, One of the World's Fastest-growing Economies

Mongolian office will extend expertise and client engagement in key growth areas such as energy and natural resources

NEW YORK, Jan. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) announced today it has established a new member firm in Mongolia after reaching an agreement with leading local Mongolian professional services firm, Onch Audit. The new firm, Deloitte Onch LLC, will offer a full range of professional services, including audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory to clients in one of the world's fastest growing economies.
Mongolia is a fast-growing market in the Asia Pacific region, with its significant natural resources and growing number of domestic enterprises requiring top-quality professional services. Deloitte Onch LLC is poised to leverage the increased opportunities in the region, particularly in the energy and resources sector. For example, the Deloitte Global Mining Industry team, an established network of experienced Deloitte member firm professionals in every country that has significant mining activity, will add great value to its services to mining clients operating in Mongolia.
"In addition to adding a new firm to our vast global network, we are delighted to be expanding in what is fast becoming a critical market for the Asia Pacific region and the global economy as a whole," said Barry Salzberg, Global CEO, DTTL. "By combining the deep local knowledge of Onch Audit with specialist expertise from Deloitte member firms, the network is well-positioned to help new and existing clients in Mongolia become leaders in their market or advance their existing market leadership."
The agreement will connect the newly formed Deloitte Onch LLC with support from a globally connected network of professionals in more than 150 countries. The new member firm will continue to be led by founder Onchinsuren (Onch) Dendevsambuu, a former senior auditor at Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young in Ulaanbaatar and Moscow. Onchinsuren has 15 years of experience in audit, tax, and advisory, serving both multi-national companies and local clients.
"This is a very exciting time for the new Deloitte member firm in Mongolia," said Onchinsuren. "We are proud to be joining a network so respected for its world-class service, innovation, and ethics. With the support of a global network of member firm specialists, I am confident that Deloitte member firms can continue to exceed clients' expectations."
Onch Audit LLC (Onch Audit) was founded in January 2004 and has since become a leading firm in the region. The Deloitte Onch LLC office currently employs a staff of 50 with plans to recruit an additional 15 over the coming months.
"We are delighted to have such dedicated professionals join Deloitte member firms in the Asia Pacific region," said Chaly Mah, Regional Managing Director, DTTL Asia Pacific. "I look forward to working closely with Onch and her colleagues to develop business in Ulaanbaatar, delivering exemplary services to existing clients, and furthering Deloitte member firms' local and international client base in the region."
About Deloitte
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.
Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte's approximately 182,000 professionals are committed to becoming the standard of excellence.
SOURCE Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

Guildford Coal plans to start Mongolian coking coal production mid-2012

Melbourne (Platts)--30Jan2012/137 am EST/637 GMT

Australian coal producer Guildford Coal aims to start mining at its South Gobi coking coal project in Mongolia in mid-2012, after it received its mining licence for the project Monday, the company said in a statement.

The South Gobi project has the ability to support near-term development with the potential to be a 4 million mt/year coking coal operation.

Guildford expects South Gobi to have production costs of around $20/mt ROM and forecasts selling prices of around $60/mt for raw semi-soft coking coal.

South Gobi is located in the South Gobi province of Mongolia and around 60 km from the Chinese border station of Ceke, where coal from Mongolia is currently transported through China.

Guildford said in the statement that the target customers for its coal are the growing markets in China's Gansu province, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi province.

The company expects to have an off-take agreement for the coal by the end of the first quarter 2012.

Guildford Coal also has an equity share in seven tenements contained in two projects in Mongolia through its shareholding in Terra Energy. The coal projects are located in the South Gobi and Middle Gobi coal bearing basins which contain thermal and coking coals. It also has coal tenements in Queensland's Bowen Basin.

--Marnie Hobson,


Mining threatens herders in Mongolia: report

BEIJING — Mining in southern Mongolia is threatening the livelihoods of herders and straining water supplies, a report said Monday, as foreign companies race to exploit the country's rich mineral deposits.
Mongolia has opened up it vast reserves of natural resources to foreign investors in the hope of pulling thousands out of poverty, but activist groups said herders, townspeople and the environment were paying a heavy price.
In 2009, Mongolia sealed a long-awaited multi-billion dollar deal with Canada's Ivanhoe Mines and Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto to develop Oyu Tolgoi, one of the world's richest copper deposits and a key gold source.
Ulan Bator is also selecting foreign companies to develop the prized Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit, one of the largest on the planet.
But the mines, located in the vast Gobi desert, were being developed without sufficient scientific information about the potential environmental and social impact of the operations, activist groups said.
"The future of herding in the South Gobi is under threat as the development of extensive mine infrastructure pushes herders out of traditional camps, fragments pasture land and puts pressure on water resources," the report said.
The report was published by CEE Bankwatch Network in the Czech Republic, urgewald in Germany, Bank Information Centre in the United States and Oyu Tolgoi Watch in Mongolia, with the financial assistance of the European Union.
Towns located near the mines lacked adequate services and infrastructure to handle their burgeoning populations, it said.
Increased dust caused by mining and trucks was exacerbating "desertifcation and the decreasing quality of vegetation", as well as fuelling the number of asthma and bronchitis cases in the area.
Local residents were also missing out on promised job opportunities, according to the report, which was based on interviews with herders and people living in towns near the mines as well as mining companies and investors.
"An influx of people from outside the region increases competition for jobs, and while herding engages both men and women, mining offers more opportunities for men," the report said.


Propane tank explodes in Darkhan apartment, residents evacuated

Propane tank explodes in Darkhan apartment, residents evacuated

On the evening of January 21, a propane tank exploded in an apartment on the 7th floor in Darkhan city, causing three people to suffer injuries and two of them seriously injured. From the explosion, 62 windows of the apartment block and all windows of the post office located 40 meters away from the apartment were broken. Fortunately, windows on 2nd floor of the apartment were not broken. The fire-fighting department of Darkhan-Uul Aimag received the emergency call at 9:25 pm and extinguished the fire by 10 pm. In the process of extinguishing the fire, residents of the 7th floor fled their homes. Presently, Darkhan Soum administration is taking immediate measures to shelter the residents in the preschool #22 building which is located near the apartment.
Mr. Oyunsuren, Deputy Head of the Emergency Commission of Darkhan-Uul Aimag said that a parent of the family where the propane tank exploded bought 5 liters of gas from Dashvanjil Company that day. The new propane tank exploded when he was using the old one to prepare foods.
Three people of the family suffered injuries from the explosion and the host is currently under treatment at central hospital of the aimag. The hostess and another woman were urgently transferred to the Burn Hospital in Ulaanbaatar. Burns covered 48 percent of 48-year old woman’s body and she was diagnosed to have probability to have kidney failure. A 22-year old woman suffered burns to 30 percent of her body and her current health state is very bad.
After extinguishing the fire, the Emergency Commission of the aimag called an urgent meeting at which an ordinance of the aimag’s Governor was issued and a working group responsible for eliminating the disastrous condition was set up. Regarding the accident, State Emergency Commission head M.Enkhbold called a meeting and gave relevant instructions. Professional teams from the General Agency of Specialized Inspections and National Emergency Management Agency were dispatched to Darkhan-Uul Aimag. Also, relevant  organizations were instructed to eliminate the consequence of the accident and make a professional conclusion.
The apartment block has a total of 220 citizens of 72 families. Due to the explosion, ceilings and walls of two apartments fell in, 63 windows were broken, walls of 10 families were cracked, 11 doors were broken and furniture and possessions of the family that suffered the explosion were entirely burnt to ash. 
Emergency workers satisfied security of the 6-8th floors of the apartment and took measures against freezing. According to recommendations and resolutions of the working group, 113 people of 32 families were evacuated. 
The aimag’s Specialized Inspections Department, Emergency Department and Police Office are working to determine cause and losses.


IMF Rep blames fiscal policy for Mongolia’s inflation

IMF Rep blames fiscal policy for Mongolia’s inflation
Mongol Bank’s actions defended
Mr. Steven Barnett, the IMF Representative for Mongolia, shared his views on the recent developments around the exchange rate.
-On January 2, 2012 petroleum importers raised retail prices by Tog 300 per liter, relating their decision to the exchange rate depreciation. Have you looked at this issue and would you agree to the petroleum importers’ explanation?
-We have not looked specifically at the petroleum market in Mongolia, so I would rather not comment on that.
However, I would like to make a general point. The cost of petroleum in a country depends on the international price of oil—typically quoted in US$—and the country’s exchange rate. So, it is natural for the price, which of course should be linked to the cost, to move with changes in global oil prices and the exchange rate.
-Many businessmen and economists believe that the BOM should be held responsible for the increase in petroleum prices. What do you think? 
-I disagree completely. In fact, we have consistently applauded the BOM—and continue to do so—for their management of the flexible exchange rate regime. Indeed, the tightly managed exchange rate in 2008 was a key factor behind the last economic crisis. Therefore, we see the continuation of the flexible exchange rate regime as a critical line of defense for preventing another crisis.
This is especially important because of the irresponsible fiscal policy that has been put in place by the government. The extraordinary growth in spending is overheating the economy, leading to  high inflation, rapid growth in imports due to excessive domestic demand, and macroeconomic uncertainty—and these factors are influencing the exchange rate. The BOM is doing the right thing by allowing the exchange rate to move in line with the evolving market conditions.
-The Bank of Mongolia has informed that it is doing intervention on the FX market to reverse the recent depreciation. Is it sufficient?
-We support intervention to smooth excess volatility in the foreign exchange market but not to resist depreciation (or appreciation) pressure. Smoothing excess volatility is fundamentally different than intervention aimed at targeting a specific exchange rate or preventing depreciation. In particular, under a flexible exchange rate regime the market guides the exchange rate up or down based on evolving conditions.
Intervention takes place only to smooth out the impact of say a particularly large transaction or other short- term disturbance in the market.
-Mongolia’s international reserves now stand at over US$ 2 billion. How sufficient are they by international standards?
-The level of reserves is adequate to comfortably support the existing flexible exchange rate regime. Indeed,
that is one of the big benefits of the current flexible exchange rate system. In this regard, it is worth recalling how the fixed exchange rate policy in place previously was a key contributor to the last crisis. Specifically, the BOM was running out of international reserves in a destined-to-fail attempt to defend the exchange rate and the crisis came to a head as the BOM came close to running out of reserves.
The bottom-line, therefore, is that the flexible exchange rate regime in place now is critical for avoiding a repeat of that crisis. Especially critical given that fiscal policy has returned to the boom-bust ways of 2006-8.
-What are the reasons for the US$ appreciation in Mongolia? In contrast, globally, the US$ and Euro are depreciating. Is this related to a crisis?
-As a general rule, economists are not very good at forecasting shortrun (less than a year) changes in the 
exchange rate. Or, put differently, short-run fluctuations in the exchange rate are inherently difficult to understand, as they reflect evolving market conditions and sentiment. Having said that, many factors could be behind the recent moves, including external considerations (such as an increase in global risk aversion which has tended to cause the U.S. dollar to appreciate and the euro to depreciate in 2011) and domestic factors (such as concerns over macroeconomic stability related to the government’s fiscal policy which has tended to put downward pressure on Mongolia’s currency).
-Down the road, what policies and measures are needed to appreciate the exchange rate and thereby bring down prices of goods?
-No policies are needed, as the
BOM should not try to appreciate the exchange rate. The flexible exchange rate regime currently in place is the best policy for Mongolia. And, a flexible exchange rate regime means that the central bank does not try to appreciate nor depreciate the rate. The best way to control inflation is to have a more responsible fiscal
policy. The extraordinary increase in government spending in 2011 and planned for under the 2012 budget are the key drivers of rising prices of goods. The public’s well-placed concern about rising cost of living should be addressed, therefore, towards fiscal policy and not the BOM.


President Ts.Elbegdorj visits South Gobi mine sites and soums

President Ts.Elbegdorj visits South Gobi mine sites and soums
President Ts.Elbegdorj meets with soum citizens to answer questions of local concern
On January 19-21, President Ts.Elbegdorj made a working trip to Omnogobi Aimag. First, the President saw operations of the ‘Tavant Tolgoi’ Company located in Tsogttsetsii Soum. The company is locally owned with 51 percent of shares owned by Mongolia and 49 percent by about 170 shareholders. Later, the President went to the ‘Erdenes Tavantolgoi’ company that was established on December 23, 2010. It employs a total of 262 workers. According to the company’s director L.Enebish, greater constructional works are planned to construct a concentrating plant, water system, paved road and residential town for 1,000 people. He added that the company started exporting coal on August 4, 2011 and has extracted one million tonnes of coal so far. “The main difficulty is the transportation issue. It necessitates starting railway construction and urgently laying a paved road. Also the border checkpoint should have many gates because loaded coal truck waste much time in a long queue at the border check-point. In collaboration with other companies, we have made some efforts to make it have more gates,” he said.

Minerals and Energy Minister D. Zorigt said, “Even when more roads are constructed, there will still be problems of transportation. Therefore, we need to start construction of a railway as soon as possible.”

President Elbegdorj said that they need to resolve infrastructure issues quickly. In particular, construction of an auto road and railroad, along with intensifying operations of mining companies rely on the Tavan Tolgoi deposit. The transportation-related issue was touched upon most during the working trip to Tsogttsetsii and Khanbogd soums of Omnogobi Aimag. Last year, Energy Resource LLC constructed a 245km paved road from its mine to the Gashuun Sukhait border check-point. It contributed much to ease the transportation of coal. However, the road is unable to bear all capacity and they need to construct more paved roads and a railroad as soon as possible.

The president was critical about the construction process of the railroad. “When I asked about it in 2009, I was told that construction would be started after 2 years. However, there is no rail here. By using the reason of raising funds, it is taking too much time and causes economical and natural losses.” A passage way for animals should be planned while constructing both the railroad and auto road, said the President. The same day, President Elbegdorj got acquainted with activities of the Ukhaa Khudag mine of the ‘Energy Resource’ LLC. The mine started operations in 2009, put its coal processing plant into operation, made an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, constructed an 18 megawatt electrical power plant, and  implemented many construction works. The coal processing plant is capable to process 5 million tonnes annually and has the technology to recycle 94 percent of its used water. Construction of the 18 megawatt electrical power plant not only ensures the supply of energy for the mining operations, but also for citizens of Tsogttsetsii Soum. The President was introduced to the coal processing plant, office buildings of the mine, the ‘Tsetsii’ apartment town and ‘Gallery’ town for workers.

So far, Energy Resource Company has invested about Tgs600 billion on auxiliary projects of the mine and infrastructure projects. It paid Tgs13 billion to the State Budget in 2009, and increased to Tgs120 billion in 2011.

Afterwards, the President held a meeting with local citizens of Tsogttsetsii Soum. To begin the meeting, the President briefly introduced five main directions of his activities as State Head.

On Friday, January 21 the President and accompanying officials came to the Oyu Tolgoi deposit. “At the coldest period of winter, great constructional works are underway here,” said G. Batsukh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Oyu Tolgoi Company. The Oyu Tolgoi Project is under the construction process. As a result of the project which is expected to be hugest mining construction in the world, Mongolia’s economy will grow by 36 percent in 2019. It is expected to invest Tgs7.7 trillion before the start of extraction. The concentrating plant will come into operation in the 3rd quarter of 2013 and it is now under the assembling process.

According to company authorities, the construction works attracted 65 companies from 38 countries as assistant executors; some 15 thousand workers are employed and 10 thousand of them are Mongolians.
Also, a contract was built for over 1,000 national suppliers, purchasing goods and services worth Tgs1.3 trillion. There are 12 infrastructure projects being implemented in the aimag and five of them are being executed by Mongolian companies. The Company made an investment worth Tgs110 billion in a training program that establishes vocational training and production centers and mining institutes in Dalanzadgad, Khanbogd, Darkhan and Ulaanbaatar. It also sponsors 200 students studying in domestic universities and 30
students studying abroad.

The authorities also introduced that natural rehabilitation will be made according to international standards. Its environmental policy completely conforms to the World Bank standard. The project is to introduce technology that demands the least amount of water consumption.
For infrastructure, 100km paved road to the southern border is being constructed and 220kwatt electrical lines are being erected. According to international standards, the airport and water pipe are being  constructed. Also, a sport hall and cultural complex worth Tgs2.6 billion are being built in the aimag center for citizens. A sport complex is being built in Bayan-Ovoo Soum with an investment of Tgs775 million.
The President highly spoke about the running construction and then asked the company to augment salaries of Mongolian workers and involve them in various trainings. Advising the Cabinet to pay attention to Mongolian workers, the President said the working schedule of Mongolians should consider providing them with comfortable living conditions. “It is important to erect an apartments’ campus for the workers,” he added.
The President also asked the company to study an opportunity to gather more national enterprisers who supply products to the OT Company.

The President and accompanying officials saw the construction process of a concentrating plant, the project field, open pit and shaft #2 from the observation stand, and a heavy load assembling workshop and settlement for workers.
Later, the President held a meeting with Khanbogd Soum citizens. Along with implementation of big mining projects and construction works, the population in the soum is increasing, which causes many problems to occur regarding mutual understanding between environment and infrastructure project implementers and local citizens. Therefore, citizens had words and queries for the President.

First, the focus of the discussion was the issue about the outlook for energy. As G. Batsukh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Oyu Tolgoi Project said, erection of electrical lines linking Oyu Tolgoi to Khanbogd Soum will be completed by next autumn and Tgs5.9 billion has been preliminarily budgeted. Minerals and Energy Minister D. Zorigt said, “A 220 Mega Watt electrical line is running from Mandalgobi to Tavan Tolgoi. From there, a line will be stretched to Oyu Tolgoi. A 300 megawatt electrical power station will be built in both Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi. The average term for building the station is 2 years. As it is needed to receive energy before the completion of the construction of power station, energy will be received from China.
The energy issue will be resolved this year if an electrical line is stretched here regardless of whether it comes from Ulaanbaatar or China.”

Citizen Batmonkh said, “I’m not saying that the Oyu Tolgoi project is wrong, but the state policy on mineral resources should be determined with a far-sight of 100 years at least. Rivers and streams are drying out and nature is deteriorating. With the current situation, it is very doubtful about the future existence of Khanbogd Soum. Pasturing and animal husbandry is devastated. There may be not any pasture area or even herders. There may be no one who herds animals 20 years from now. I can’t understand how mining is to be developed without resolving infrasture. The situation in Gobi is very hard. You looked at the soum center; it looks greenless. We need an auto road.

Senior citizen Tserenkhuu said, “Implementation of the Oyu Tolgoi Project is not fruitful for herders. State officials need to hear the words of herders and citizens. I think the meeting in the soum center will not give positive results. Look how life is there; livestock has become unhealthy and gold processing activities were made so close to our soum. I think you know how poisonous that is. Families living near the road can’t eat the meat of their livestock.”

Khanbogd citizens criticized and gave suggestions related to the Oyu Tolgoi project. They criticized that the Oyu Tolgoi project does not care about the health state of Mongolian workers, pays little to Mongolians, but higher to foreigners and apartments for workers are not built.
Officials gave relevant responses to the questions.



The Mongolian Sandwich

The Mongolian Sandwich

Mongolia has two neighbours, China and Russia. Both of these countries are huge and have dominated Mongolia for several centuries, despite Mongolia being a sovereign republic. Mongolia is rich in natural resources such as copper, coal, gold and other minerals, which are providing new paths for success and prosperity. Its biggest market is China, while to the north, Russia forms an alternate route to other markets. However, many Mongolians believe that the possession of natural resources could lead to greater dependence rather than independence, as its commercial success may come to rely solely on either neighboring country’s economic stability.
Sandwiched Between Two Great Neighbours
Mongolian State Secretary Tsogtbaatar Damdin announced that his country has a good relationship with its giant neighbors. Sandwiched between China and Russia, Mongolia maintains peace like many other countries, though it now finds itself looking further outward. It might be said that this nation wishes to make further friendships with other parts of the world.
Mongolia’s Disenchantment with China
Mongolians are neither motivated nor ebullient about China or the Chinese. Even at a governmental level, Mongolia does not have basic human rights for Chinese workers in place. Some Chinese professionals pretend they are Koreans when doing business in Mongolia, as this is a more welcome ethnic group.
This seems to be a form of historical retribution. According to historical records, during the rule of ethnic-Manchu Qing dynasty, China ruled Mongolia rather inhumanly. One sixth of the population is Mongolian along the area of China bordering Mongolia, and there is continuous conflict there.
When the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia, China simply closed the border. This sort of behavior has led many Mongolians to fear for their future with China as a neighbor. Mongolia is a sparsely-populated vast and poor country, whereas the neighbouring countries are overly populated and economically booming. Eighty percent of the exports of Mongolia are bought by China and half of the imports are from China. To fulfill the demands of China, hundreds of small mines have been developed in Mongolia. Two big copper and gold mines have practically transformed this country.
The production of copper and gold in the mines at Oyu Tolgoi is expected to start in 2013 and at the same time, the coal production is expected to increase from 16 million tonnes a year to 240 million tonnes in 2014. Both these mines are in the province of South Gobi bordering China, which appears to be increasingly integrating into China. All necessary supplies have to pass across this border. To improve the marketing strategy and to have access to South Korea and Japan, plans are being laid out to build railways, not only to China but also into Russia and eastern Mongolia.
Mongolia’s relationship with Russia, on the other hand, has improved in the recent past. Russia has at least helped preserve Mongolian independence. Yet the relationship is not a perfect one. On a logistical note, Mongolia was importing diesel from Russia until the latter nation was unable to supply the required fuel amount. This led to a shortage of domestic supply in the summer.
For this and many other reasons, Mongolia needs to pursue a third neighbor policy and cannot afford to remain sandwiched between the two giants of China and Russia. Mongolia is a strong Western ally. It contributed troops to America during the war with Iraq and Afghanistan. Look for this nation to increasingly reach out to the world in the near future, perhaps starting with the West.

An American Capitalist in Mongolia - Part 2

We left off before the 4th of July holiday last Thursday with Chris and Carlos speaking to Harris Kupperman, a successful hedge fund manager and now CEO of a Mongolia-focused venture.  Today we’ll talk more about his company and his plans for investing in Mongolia.
Chris: Harris, you’ve said that you wanted to invest in Mongolia but couldn’t find a suitable vehicle to do so.  Like a true capitalist, you created your own!  For our readers benefit, please tell us more about Mongolia Growth Group(Editors note: Mongolia Growth Group is traded on the Canadian exchange under the ticker symbol “YAK“.  Investors in the US can find it listed over the counter as “MNGGF“).
Harris: We’re a company focused on real estate and financial services. Those are the two sectors that should be most leveraged to the growth of the economy and GDP. From a historical perspective, real estate in the downtown of the capital city of a country seeing a boom has always gone parabolic.
We think a similar thing will happen here. We were recently granted an insurance license and are now the best capitalized insurance company in Mongolia. Finally, we are actively investigating other sectors of the financial services market to enter.
Chris: Investing privately is one thing, but you went the public vehicle route, which is a bit more complex at best. How did you go about creating the company?
Harris: When I first visited Mongolia, I saw the opportunity, but like you say, I couldn’t find a way to get appropriate exposure. I also couldn’t get comfortable with corporate governance and the accounting at the various public companies. I figured that my only viable alternative was to build it myself.
I built MGG because I wanted to invest my own money in Mongolia, as did some friends. Management and the board have now invested over $7 million in the company and I’m about half of that amount. No matter what happens in our business we can be confident that our accounting is done right. I couldn’t invest the sort of money that I’ve invested without that knowledge.
Chris: Mongolia Growth Group is a bit different from most other public companies in terms of compensation. Can you explain?
Harris: The company started with me asking friends to invest alongside me in Mongolia. I wanted a diversified company that would have adequate exposure to the Mongolian economy. I simply didn’t have the resources to do that myself.  I felt funny asking my friends to invest in my company and then tell them that I was going to take a salary and dilute them through stock options or any other scheme like that. Instead, I have decided to take no salary, stock options, performance allocation, bonus or anything else. I’m here in Mongolia because I’ve invested my own money in the company.  My Co-Pilot in this venture, Jordan Calonego feels the same way.  Besides, we’ve been investors for over a decade now and have been disgusted to learn that the CEO always seems to do better than the shareholders. Now that our roles are reversed and we are management, it would be wrong of us to do what we have always criticized. Investors need to think of this company as a business created by a bunch of very successful hedge fund guys who want to invest their own money in Mongolia. Minority shareholders can come along for the ride if they want without any of the onerous fees normally associated with hedge funds. It is the only company that I know of like this. I hope we can use this as a template for the next time that I complain that some Management team is overpaid, but that’s a different story!
Chris: Investing in foreign emerging markets entails a certain amount of risk for us “foreign devils.” Tell me about your local partners in Mongolia and how you’re mitigating risk by partnering locally.
Harris: I think you have an inaccurate impression about Mongolia. People are very happy to have us investing in the country and helping the economy to grow. A stronger country means they can stand up to the Chinese better. Of course, our foreign partners help us navigate business relationships and that is critical. Think of it this way, I’m from New York. If I moved to Boston, I could do business just fine. Of course it helps if you have friends in Boston, but you’d do just fine without any relationships. That’s how Mongolia appears to me. That said, we have amazing partners and they have made everything significantly more successful for us at MGG. We couldn’t have gotten this far this fast without them.
Carlos: Even though you are focusing on the FIRE sectors (Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate), was this driven by a natural resource thesis?  [i.e. in the context of economic growth derived from the natural resource sectors?]
Harris: Yes. We want leverage to the growth of Mongolia. These three sectors are very closely tied to economic growth which we think is about to significantly accelerate as new mines come online.
Carlos: For our readers benefit can you tell us what minerals and resources are found in Mongolia?
Harris: We are learning that Mongolia has everything. Just a few months ago, we learned that Mongolia may also be a significant oil exporter. They’ve already found coal, copper, iron ore, gold, uranium, rare earth elements and pretty much everything else.
Carlos: We all remember the Levi Strauss story back from the California Gold Rush.  Along those lines have you thought of jumping into the mining camp support business?
Harris: We are looking at everything. However, for now at least, we see the biggest opportunities in real estate. There are hundreds of millions being raised for Mongolia focused real estate funds. Prices will go simply nutty as they try to put that capital to work, and we want to get positioned before that happens.
Chris: Regulations, taxes and other such government ‘ahem… initiatives can, and often do, make enormous differences to investments. Currently agriculture is favored and doesn’t pay VAT or import taxes on farming equipment and supplies. This is because the Mongolian government wants food costs low. Normally this would allow fatter margins for farmers. Is this something of interest, and do you see any other opportunities arising due to government mandates and tax incentives/breaks?
Harris: We have looked at agriculture and have a joint venture with a Mongolian to finance the expansion of his potato patch; however this is quite small in terms of our company. In general, we want to focus on businesses tied to the growth of the broader economy and agriculture doesn’t fit that bill, at least for now.
Chris: You and I have previously discussed infrastructure in Asia, and agreed as to why neither of us would invest in early stage infrastructure.  At the same time we both know that infrastructure is absolutely critical to growth. Where do you think Mongolia is at with the critical infrastructure that is being built now, and needs building to enable the sustainable growth we expect?
Harris: Infrastructure is the main thing holding back the economy. As soon as you build a railroad, all these stranded mineral assets suddenly become economic. The same goes for road infrastructure, power, and water transport. Really everything needs investment, that’s the reason that I feel so confident that the government won’t do anything to hurt foreign investors, it would simply derail growth.
Chris: Here’s a problem I’ve been thinking of lately. It’s fair to say that since listing its shares publicly, MGG has experienced periods where the market clearly overvalued the company. This should be obvious to any investor performing some back of the napkin math. When insiders of a company see the market value of their company trading below their best estimates of fair market value they buy back stock. When the opposite happens it’s natural to offload stock. This is easy for me as a pure capital provider, and one not involved in strategic decisions or management.  But, I wonder how I’d deal with this situation where it’s my own company I’m running. How do you deal with this conundrum, given that I think we’re likely to see some extreme over-valuations at some point as the Mongolia story begins to unfold and the world wakes up to the opportunities?
Harris: I’m a long term investor. I have absolutely no intention of selling any of my shares. NONE. If our shares are undervalued, it would be great to be able to buy back shares. If we are overvalued, we just ignore it. Remember, that when an economy grows as fast as Mongolia’s, it’s very easy for our company to simply grow into the valuation. For instance, in the past four months, real estate prices are up between 20 and 50%. It doesn’t take many more months like that for a business to grow into and then exceed a current valuation.
Mark again… Harris is as sharp as they come in our opinion.  We believe in him so much in fact that we participated in all three rounds of the MGG private placements.  So for purposes of full disclosure, Chris and I own shares.  You can figure out what we paid by looking at the SEDAR filings.  We also encourage anyone that is interested to review the Company’s website at:
We’ll have more from Mongolia over the coming weeks. Chris knows a few more intrepid capitalists that have made Mongolia an important part of their investment activities.  Stay tuned, and let us know if you have any comments or questions.  Just post ‘em below and we’ll respond asap.
“With Heaven’s aid I have conquered for you a huge empire. But my life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That task is left for you.”
- Genghis Khan, to his sons at the end of his life.

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