Lenders expect Rio Tinto to miss Mongolia deadline

Rio Tinto appears unlikely to be ready to push ahead with the second stage of the Oyu Tolgoi mine this week, despite an imminent deadline and improving relations with the Mongolian government.
The majority of lenders toward the $US5.4($6.2) billion second stage have attached a September 30 deadline to their funding commitments, after the initial deadline on March 31 was breached.
The second stage of the giant copper and gold mine has been delayed for more than a year because of numerous disputes between the Mongolian government and Rio's subsidiaries, including a tax dispute and an argument over the construction cost of the project.
But there has been a flurry of activity in recent weeks between the two camps, including a promise by Mongolia to reduce the amount of tax owed by Rio's subsidiaries, and the publication of a new feasibility study for the mine by Rio.

Mongolian officials have made particularly bullish comments in recent days, with a senior figure in the mining ministry Otgochuluu Chuluuntserent saying over the weekend that a resolution was just days away.
But multiple lenders indicated on Monday they were not expecting a full resolution of the issues in time to meet the September 30 deadline.
Several of the 15 international banks involved in the deal said they would be happy to extend their funding deadlines once again, having been encouraged by the recent improvement in relations between the two camps.
The lenders said they were increasingly confident a deal could be solved by the end of the 2014 calendar year.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is part of the funding group, confirmed that its deadline was already set at December 31, rather than September 30.
Rio chief executive Sam Walsh has previously likened his company's relationship with Mongolia to a long marriage, and has said he is willing to miss short-term funding deadlines to make sure the terms of the relationship with the developing nation were right.
"We are not about rushing to meet a deadline," he said in March.
If Rio does surprise by resolving all issues before the September 30 deadline, the biggest winner could be the shares of Turquoise Hill Resources, the Canadian subsidiary of Rio that holds Rio's interest in Oyu Tolgoi. 
Shares in Turquoise Hill have surged in recent weeks on the back of the thawing relationship between Rio and Mongolia.
Turquoise shares were fetching $C3.57($3.67) in September, but reached $C4.42 on September 15.
They slipped back to $C4 last week, only to spike again on Saturday morning Australian time to be $C4.26.
Rio's shares, which are far more responsive to the direction of the iron ore price, have fallen sharply over the past two months.
The stock fell another 90 cents on Monday to be fetching $59.21- Rio's lowest share price since late June.


At UN Assembly, Mongolian leader underscores needs of landlocked developing countries

At UN Assembly, Mongolian leader underscores needs of landlocked developing countries

President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj told the 69th high-level debate in New York that his country looks forward to working with partners to revise the new set of anti-poverty targets which will guide international development starting in January of 2016.
Speaking to representatives of 193 Member States,  Elbegdorj also called on the international community to work through the Organization to tackle some of the key security and development issues facing the world.
“At this time of turmoil we, as a family of nations, must rally around the World Organization, as a centre of multilateralism, upholding its Charter and universal principles of international law,” he said.
He noted the importance of collective action to stop the atrocities being committed by the terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), resolve through political dialogue the situation in Ukraine, and ensure an effective response to Ebola, among other themes.
The President also highlighted the importance of strengthening peace and stability in North-East Asia as one of Mongolia’s national security priorities, including stabilizing the Korean Peninsula through an early resumption of Six-Party Talks.
“As a country with a declared nuclear-weapon-free status, Mongolia firmly believes that the Korean Peninsula must be nuclear-weapons-free,” he underscored.
President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj addresses the general debate of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

2014 Taiwan International Conference on Tibet and Inner Mongolia held in Taipei

Taipei: - An international conference to discuss the issue of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia was held September 20 at the National Taiwan University Alumini Hall in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
The conference was organized jointly by the local Tibetan Welfare Association and the Office of Tibet. It was attended by around 16 outstanding academicians, media personalities and activists from various fields.
The conference was addressed by academics from the United States, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau and China, which also included Chinese, Mongolian and Uyghur scholars.
The meeting was mainly intended to discuss issues ranging from the Kunming event in Yunnan and the Middle-Way as a framework for the resolution of the Tibet issue to the present situation in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia and the overall status of support for Tibet in Taiwan.
Among those who gave presentations during this conference included Ilham Mahmut, president of the Japan Uyghur Association; Tang Donhong, Chinese writer and democracy activist based in Israel; Prof. Su Chia Hong, the author of Democracy in Exile; Yang Sen Hong, chairman of the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights; and Tseng Chien-Yuan, associate prof. of public administration at Chung Hua University.
Talking the truth of Kunming incident, World Uighur Congress Vice-President Ilham Mahmut said 'there are a lot of doubtful points made by the Chinese authorities.'
Prof De-Ron Chou asked: "The Chinese authorities defined Kunming attack is caused by international terrorists, if that was true, why China don't let UN in and do some research?"
Ilham Mahmut responded by adding that, "Every UN human rights conferences in Geneva, we have tried to suggest the same, but Chinese authorities didn't agree with the convey, so the UN cannot do anything about it."
Prof, Chien-Yuan Tseng said: "When any human rights violations occurred in China, we need to spread toward world throughout Taiwan."
Julie Couderc from National Taiwan University said "Because of, from Vietnam to Xinjiang, including Ilham Tohti issue, it has brought more difficulties issues to China. Therefore, "China would put impose more government control against Uighur people. China also use localized policy to damage the culture of Uighur people, including using interracial marriage."
Comparing with Hmongb in Guangxi, "Xinjiang and Tibet do not have a real autonomy, that's why there are the conflicts." Said Prof Mu-Min Chen while sharing his own research about the ethnic minorities in China.
Bo-In Tu, a Inner Mongolia freedom activist introduced the changes made in Inner Mongolia after the Chinese colonization of the region.
"In 1947, there were 51 Buddhist temples and monasteries in Inner Mongolia with over 1200 monks. Now there are only two temple left without monk and nuns," Bo-In Tu said, adding: The Chinese authorities still take lands from our farmers and the temples' areas become state farm under local administrations."
Bo-In Tu still hold a positive changes toward his homeland, and he urges all Mongolians in Taiwan to keep learn their own language and culture.
Xian-Hon Yang, president of Taiwan Association for China Human Rights talked on the Middle Way Approach advocated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama seeking a "genuine autonomy" for Tibetans within the framework of the Chinese constitution.
Prof Hou-Ren Wu however said that the Middle Way is a strategy which the Chinese authorities have misinterpreted in China, because of that they claimed its "destabilizing" the region.
"Recent years, China economically become more powerful, countries around the world are scared to stand for Tibet," said Chi-Ren Sun, president of Tibetan-Taiwan Friendship Association.
Prof Jia-Hong Su said "after Xi Jinping became China's new leader, he has a more hopes toward the issues of Tibet, hoping Xi can find a solution through a standpoint between China and Tibet."
The meeting was also attended by Taiwanese lawmakers, Chinese writers, members of NGOs based in the country, including Taiwan Friends of Tibet and Taiwan Association for Human Rights.
Other topics discussed at this meeting included democratic principles, national issues, and the needs to further raise the issue of Tibet in Taiwan.
"Tibet supporters and members from the Taiwanese NGOs also discussed the needs to protect rights of Tibetans in Taiwan," one of the participants told TPI News, saying they will make further efforts of interacting with more intellectuals and activities, to get more attention on Tibet and human rights in China.


Robert Friedland talks in Melbourne about Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi mine, supply chain scrutiny and the future demands for metals

"A truly world class mine is like a woman having a 100 kilogram baby; it is painful, it takes time.": Robert Friedland.
"A truly world class mine is like a woman having a 100 kilogram baby; it is painful, it takes time.": Robert Friedland. Photo: Paul Rovere

Famous mining entrepreneur Robert Friedland says he is confident Rio Tinto can mend its troubled relationship with the Mongolian Government and turn the Oyu Tolgoi project into the world's best copper mine.
A colourful speech to an audience in Melbourne, Mr Friedland likened the process of developing a mine to a painful birth, and expressed confidence that Rio and Mongolia would sort out their differences.
Mr Friedland played a significant role in the development of Oyu Tolgoi, with his company Ivanhoe Mines leading the process until Rio acquired just over half of Ivanhoe in a bid to get control of the mine.
Development of the second stage of Oyu Tolgoi has been delayed for more than a year on the back of multiple disputes between Rio and the Mongolian government, and just this week Rio published a new feasibility study for the $US5.4 billion expansion which found it would cost more and recover copper at slower rates than before.

Funding commitments for the expansion from a syndicate of banks expire on September 30, but despite that pressure, Mr Friedland said Oyu Tolgoi would eventually be delivered.
"I want to express great confidence in the inevitability that all parties at Oyu Tolgoi will continue with the expansion, there is a virtual certainty that the mine will be expanded," he said.
"A truly world class mine is like a woman having a 100 kilogram baby; it is painful, it takes time.
"I believe this will ultimately become the world's best copper and gold mine."
In typically controversial style, Mr Friedland described those who oppose mining projects as "twisted deviants" and said some had become too detached from the supply chains that deliver common objects.
"People have forgotten where things come from, some people don't understand you either grow it, or you mine it if you touch it or use it," he said.
"This is an election year here in the (Victorian) state government on the 29th of November, there is an important election, please vote for the handsome intelligent people that understand where things come from."
While speaking about the trend toward greater scrutiny of the way companies manufacture goods and source labour, Mr Friedland likened the scrutiny to a "rectal examination". 
When describing the strong demand for sulfuric acid from oxide copper mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Friedland said those operations were "like heroin junkies". 
Since Rio took control of Oyu Tolgoi, Mr Friedland and the Ivanhoe team have focused on the pursuit of copper, zinc, platinum and other metals in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.
He said the air pollution problems in big cities was a more imminent problem than climate change, and would drive strong demand for cars and power sources that were less polluting, and by extension, minerals like platinum. 

Source:The Sydney Morning Herald

Rio Tinto Raises Cost Of Oyu Tolgoi Underground Mine Expansion

Employees at the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia.
Costs for expanding a massive Mongolian copper mine in which Rio Tinto owns an interest are on the rise, but the project will only move ahead once all issues with the Mongolian government have been resolved, the company that owns the rights to the mine said.
Canada-listed Turquoise Hill Resources , which is 50.8% owned by Rio, said it would cost $5.4 billion to expand the Oyu Tolgoi mine underground, compared with a previous estimate of $5.1 billion. The figure includes $0.5 billion of capital already spent this year and last year.
The mine, which sits on one of the world’s largest copper and gold deposits, began commercial production last summer and could represent a third of landlocked Mongolia’s economy.
The latest study, whose publication has been delayed several times, will need to be approved by all the mine’s shareholders and stakeholders before the project can proceed. Oyu Tolgoi is operated by Rio Tinto and 66% owned by Turquoise Hill with the remaining 34% held by the Mongolian government.
Development of the underground mine project was put on hold last summer following a protracted dispute with the Mongolian government over a series of issues, including timing of the revenue stream to be incurred by the government from the project, terms of financing burden, and claims of unpaid taxes, penalties and disallowed entitlements connected with the initial development of Oyu Tolgoi, which cost $6.2 billion to develop.
Turquoise Hill said on Monday that the Mongolian tax authority reduced the initial tax-related charges to about $30 million from $127 million. While Turquoise Hill welcomed the new ruling, it said it would seek further clarity about the latest findings.
Write to Alex MacDonald at alex.macdonald@wsj.com.

Regaining investors' credibility …..

Problem statement by INS
Mongolia’s ability to attract third neighbor investors and financiers to support funding of it’s huge development agenda has deteriorated. Providers of capital are seeking answers to 2 basic questions while considering lending or investing into Mongolia.
  1. Is the Government of Mongolia supportive of an empowered private sector and is it proactively resolving business disputes?
  2. What is the winning strategy that will turbocharge the economy?
Opinion by Cameron McRae
“In the Democratic Transition, Mongolia committed to three fundamental reforms: respect for human rights; open, democratic government; and an economy led by the private sector, not dominated by domestic or foreign state-owned companies. Mongolia’s support for human rights and political participation is beyond question. Where Mongolia has struggled is in the third reform:  developing an independent, private-sector economy. Our Six-Point Plan will advance Mongolia rapidly to this goal of developing competitive industries that create jobs. With government’s focused leadership, we are confident that business will create the growth and employment that Mongolia needs”.
This is the closing paragraph from a paper written by six Mongolian business leaders, myself and an international bank, aided by McKinsey and the Economic Policy and Competitiveness Research Centre (EPCRC), Mongolia, that was presented to President Elbedorj in August 2012. The report was titled “A six-point action plan for Mongolia: Enabling business to create employment and growth”.
The six pillars of this action plan were:
  1. Stabilize the economy;
  2. Create policy and regulatory stability;
  3. Reduce government’s role in business and streamline bureaucracy;
  4. Develop a prioritized and fundable infrastructure plan;
  5. Stabilize and strengthen the mining sector; and
  6. Deliver critical infrastructure projects.
The six-point action plan (6PAP) thesis was that with government creating an enabling environment and proactively supporting private sector businesses, both domestic and international, then business would attract international finance and investors-partners for high quality projects which would fuel sustainable growth. The 6PAP did not only look at mining and infrastructure but recognised that these projects types were huge, that new infrastructure and infrastructure upgrades were essential for a modern Mongolia and provided the foundation for fast and sustainable economic growth.
From a strategic perspective the 6PAP recognized the continuing importance of agriculture, the upside from tourism, some potential viable areas of downstream processing, the potential for exporting power and the prospects for a mining service sector. This was not meant to preclude strategic consideration of other areas of economic endeavor but rather to focus attention on where Mongolia may build a competitive position relatively quickly.
So let’s attempt to answer the international investors 2 questions – firstly by looking at economic and political events since August 2012 and then referencing the current situation to the 6PAP (of 2012).
From August 2012 to today…. Some background information
The 2012 general election had just been held and the constitution of the government, the Cabinet, and senior positions in every ministry remained unclear. When the dust settled in late 2012 we saw a government made up of 4 political parties, a brand new, and inexperienced, cabinet and a complete change-out of senior public servants in every Ministry. This came on top of SEFIL (the Strategic Enterprises Foreign Investment Law)  – passed in Q2 2012 – which was an overly nationalistic response to a takeover offer by a Chinese state owned enterprise (SOE) of a small Mongolian coal miner located in the Gobi Desert.
The 2013 Presidential election was also a close race and was played out on a background of populist and nationalistic policies and the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) dispute between Rio Tinto and the Government of Mongolia (GoM). This dispute was a public affair until Q3 of 2013 when the parties moved discussions behind closed doors. The mothballing of the US$ 5 billion OT underground development in Q3 was an unavoidable consequence of the protracted dispute around critical “value issues” which had been running for two years. The US$ 6 billion project finance package, the largest ever in the mining industry, remains approved by the large banking syndicate, but is unable to be consummated.
The success of the US$ 1.5 billion Chinggis bond raising in late 2012 was a surprise to some, but the subsequent blowout in bond yield and devaluation of the Tugrik was not met with surprise by economists. They point to the shortfall in 2013 GoM budgetary revenues and the actions to prop up the economy and manage inflation with Quantitative Easing (QE) programs such as the Price Stabilization Program and other “off balance sheet” measures.
In 2013 other “business related” disputes and slowness in declaring policy positions on key pieces of essential legislation also added to the consternation of international financiers and investors and local businessmen alike. Investor confidence remained low and new international financial inflows scarce, despite the PR message that the GoM was repositioning the Mongolian investment environment for an economic resurgence driven by the private sector.
This low confidence occurred against an international backdrop of widespread economic problems. Economic slowdowns in the US and Europe, and a change of economic policy in China, have all contributed to a more austere outlook on the minerals industry – which is essential to Mongolia. International capital that was available to the mining industry has gravitated to big projects with many smaller mining focused companies finding fundraising for exploration and “early stage” marginal projects extremely difficult. The mining giants, such as BHPB and Rio Tinto, have driven massive capital expenditure programs over the past 3-4 years but are now in cost cutting and capital rationing mode, and little capital is being apportioned to projects in the so-called riskier “emerging and frontier markets”.
Since late 2013 we have seen significant symbolic movements, including the President’s launch of the “From big government to smart government” initiative, more advice taken from international advisors which has been at a higher level than at previous times, and the Cabinet commissioning the World Economic Forum to develop economic scenarios for Mongolia.
The GoM has also announced a raft of policy changes, with the introduction of new legislation and modifications to existing legislation. This program of change is being pursued in a fast manner, and not always with high levels of consultation or the ability to lobby for change until late in the piece.
Now, let’s review the six pillars of the 6PAP.
Pillar 1.           Stabilizing the economy
For the longer term, stabilization mechanisms to manage highly variable commodity revenues are seriously being considered as is a sovereign wealth fund for investing surplus wealth generation.
However the last two years is characterized by a reduction in capital spending at OT, and a lack of progress at Tavan Tolgoi and other mega projects. The Mongolian economy has relied on the deployment of the Chinggis Bond, the PSP (price stabilization program), and the 8% mortgage scheme to keep road works and housing activity in play.
The reality is that government debt continues to rise quickly, credit lines are shrinking and becoming much more expensive. Balance of Payments deficits continue and FX cover has dwindled to 3 months. Given the state of the national finances it is difficult for the GoM to continue stimulating the economy with large QE measures alone. Encouraging stimulatory programs driven and funded by the private sector, to build a stronger Mongolian economy takes the pressure of the GoM balance sheet.
Pillar 2.           Create policy and regulatory stability
Mongolia has had a history of political populism and unpredictability towards international investors, and in particular towards the flagship OT project. While the OT dispute remains unresolved it is salutary that the GoM’s PR engine is now much less populist and more balanced in how it deals with the issues of supporting investment, both international and domestic. Resolution of the OT dispute in a way that is seen to honor the existing agreements will be very well received by the major banking institutions and international investors.
Tax stabilization, a key and controversial feature of the OT Investment Agreement, has now become a feature of the proposed Investment Law and is available to both domestic and international investors. The removal of SEFIL reinforces this positive initiative.
While Mongolia has a strong need to expand and grow its tax base, it is showing discipline in the use of the tax rates, thus recognising that this is a lever that improve Mongolia’s competitiveness as a destination for international capital. Mineral royalty arrangements however are being partly used in a way to minimize “transfer pricing”, by placing the onus of achieving bench-mark prices or mine owners. I believe this creates problems for new investors as they do not know how royalty payments will be calculated over time.
Generally improving the consultative process and proposed minimum periods for consultation on proposed legislation will generate better outcomes, as will improving the linkages between the GoM and business associations. The onus to improve is on both business and GoM.
Regardless of the logic and competitiveness of laws, the true test of legislation is how it plays out with the bureaucracy; is it easy and quick to start, implement, and commission a project or business initiative? The 6PAP highlighted that the current decision making and approval processes within Ministries and between the national, aimag, and soum levels of government were far too slow, complex, and opaque. This is reinforced by WEF and IMD benchmarking studies and is recognized by GOM as needing improvement.
The move from “big to smart” will not be easy and will require strong leadership at the cabinet level and excellent change management at the critical ministries. The rationalization of powers at the soum and aimag levels is a political issue, but one that must be urgently addressed.
Image is important and the most consistent message back from investors is for the GoM to rebuild its “credibility” brand – by proactively resolving the significant unresolved legal disputes. Putting resolution of these issues into a single point of accountability should be considered.
Pillar 3.               Reduce GoM’s role in business and streamline bureaucracy
The parliament is debating the concept of not owning and over-managing the economy, which is understandable since Mongolia was once part of a strict communist regime. The reality today is that the GoM cannot afford to adequately fund government companies, or buy into new ventures (such as the strategic mining deposits), and the track record in running SOE’s without political interference and  to international standards is poor.
Putting in place an SOE privatization program will bring about two benefits – realization of cash which can be used for debt reduction or strategically placed programs, and the transformation of these SOEs into more profitable and internationally competitive entities.
Government agencies that interface with complex infrastructure and mining projects still need to be organized along “delivery unit” lines, and hopefully the GoM is working through this as part of the “smart government” initiative. The current arrangements have significant room for improvement. Blowouts in project costs are inevitable of due to long-winded permitting and approval processes are tolerated.
Pillars 4 and 6. Develop a prioritized and fundable infrastructure plan PLUS deliver critical infrastructure projects
Mongolia has ambitious plans to develop it’s infrastructure, but has been hampered by available and reasonably priced finance, and tedious approval processes. The 6PAP recommended a) a short list of priority projects be developed and intensively supported through all stages of development, and b)  that projects pass a “market needs test” and can be commercially funded.
Prioritising the GoM’s strategic projects list and rectifying the issues raised in pillars 1 to 3 is required and is not an easy political task. It is also vital that other viable projects brought to the table by private sector sponsors, with their own funding are also well supported.
The 6PAP targeted 5 critical development areas, which would provide a significant economic stimulus over a 3-4 year period, and also improve Mongolia’s competitiveness and international credibility. Progress and issues are highlighted.
  1. Power and heat generation: Little committed progress has been made on this front and resolution is critical from an urban and industrial perspective. This remains a key investment opportunity. However realistic tariffs for investors need to be mandated by the GoM, which has enjoyed low priced power from Russia and Mongolia’s obsolete fleet of UB power and heat plants.
  2. Power and heat transmission: The growth and upgrade of the grid remains a strategic challenge.
  3. South Gobi to China rail links: A rail project between Tavan Tolgoi and the Chinese border has started, however this project appears to have stalled. More rail links are planned and needed but, again, funding and politics remains a
  4. Urban roads and airport: The UB international airport has been committed, with Japanese funding, and the paved national road network has been extended during
  5. Water sector: Progress in this area is not clear. Tariff and licensing issues remain an impediment to investment.
Pillar 5.           Stabilize and strengthen the mining sector
Identifying and utilizing Mongolia’s mineral heritage is the most strategic of issues. Mining projects bring the transfer of technology and business practices, infrastructure development, national business development, and employment and training, in addition to foreign exchange earnings.
Finalization of a competitive and world-class mining policy and the ensuring legal changes is critical and long overdue. This is work in progress and it is imperative that the GoM gets this 100% right. Mongolia is seen as a frontier mining economy and it needs to be extremely competitive in all stages of the mining process to ensure that international companies and financiers support “high standard” junior, mid and large scale exploration and mining.
Importantly, Mongolia can demonstrate the huge world-class copper mining operation in the Gobi Desert that was built ahead of schedule in an area devoid of infrastructure, power, and water. It is an achievement of international standing and thousands of Mongolians and hundreds of Mongolian companies have participated and learnt from their involvement in the OT project and operating business.
Resolution of the outstanding “106 licences dispute” – in favor of the original licence holders is essential. The Mining Ministry must be perceived as fairly supporting a market in exploration permits and mining permits – which is critical for attracting qualified exploration and mining investors. Credible Mongolian mining houses that partner with international firms are also going to deliver larger mines with easier financing, more efficiently run projects, and a better chance of achieving international terms for the “export products”.
And finally, the GoM’s failed experiment in state ownership of mining enterprises should be wound up. This would send a huge message to investors, that Mongolia will not require you to give up to a 34% interest in anything you may find!
Author’s summary
Mongolia’s needs are huge and real, and re-positioning to attract serious international finance requires more than public relations and quick legislative changes. There is hard but essential work to be done – for both GoM and the business associations.
INS Commentary
Senior leaders are thinking deeply about the Mongolian situation. They know that advancing Mongolia’s economy requires access to international capital, best technologies, and to the right business partners.
To attract these essential components to Mongolia is no simple job, especially when the developed world is working through its own economic challenges and the developing and frontier economies are all fighting to attract any available capital and investors. Remember, the world is made up of over 200 countries – all fighting for credibility and access to the limited global capital pool.
Changing a country’s destiny is not an overnight or one-year task; it requires a clear vision, unfaltering dedication, and the strength of conviction to see the execution of that vision. Fortunately, some significant steps have been taken but show stoppers also remain in place. Now it is critical that the government, business associations and international experts consult, collaborate, and execute strategies and policies that position Mongolia as a competitive and reliable frontier investment destination.
More importantly, a new populism needs to take hold in Mongolia; whereby Mongolia is promoted as a country preparing to be a world-class economy, comprising highly competitive businesses and a business enabling government sector.
Winning the confidence of banks, investors and world class companies should be the highest priority for the political parties of Mongolia.

Source:Institute of National Strategy

Macmahon enters three week work stoppage in Mongolia

Machamon and its subsidiaries have entered a three week work standstill agreement following suspension of operations.
Last month Macmahon's Mongolian subsidiary announced a work suspension following overdue payments running to more than US$20 million at ETT's Tavan Tolgoi coal mine in Mongolia as the time.
The contractor is in discussions regarding payment delays, and has entered the standstill as the "agreement protects the positions of both parties whilst the discussions continue".
At the time of writing the contractor's unpaid progress claims totalled around US$30 million, with potential termination of the contract ahead.
Under the terms of the original contract, which was valued at approximately US$500 million, the miner ETT is obliged to purchase (at book value) all plant, property, and equipment from Macmahon should the contract be terminated.
All of this equipment has been valued at around US$48 million.
According to Macmahon its "Mongolian subsidiary is vigorously pursuing its contractual entitlements". 

Read more at http://www.ferret.com.au/articles/news/macmahon-enters-three-week-work-stoppage-in-mongolia-n2517624#vEd6H7YzofBZU36G.99

Genie Energy Signs Agreement for Additional Oil Shale Exploration in Mongolia

NEWARK, N.J., Sep 16, 2014 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Genie Energy Ltd. GNE, +0.29% said today that its subsidiary, Genie Oil Shale Mongolia, LLC (GOSM), has signed a prospecting agreement with the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia (PAM). The new exploration block covers twenty-five thousand square kilometers in Central Mongolia southeast of the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar. The agreement, the first to be signed under recently passed legislation, also provides a framework under which the company can request a commercial production agreement once a specific suitable resource and location are identified.
Michael Jonas, Genie’s Executive Vice President and Director of Global Exploration and Business Development, said, “We thank the Petroleum Authority and the Ministry of Mining for their hard work and professionalism in getting us to this point. We are excited to expand our oil shale exploration program in Mongolia, and expect that our investment will benefit the people of Mongolia as well as our Company.”
Yuval Bartov, Chief Geologist of Genie Oil and Gas, said, “Our analysis of the available geological evidence suggests that this license area may contain world class deposits of thick and rich oil shale well-suited for our in-situ extraction technology.”
Together with its previously signed exploration agreement, GOSM now has exclusive rights to explore for oil shale in approximately 60,000 square kilometers in Mongolia.
“We are pleased that Mongolia and Genie Energy will be working together to establish oil shale reserves and explore for and exploit the resource. The recently passed Petroleum Law created a favorable environment for investment in conventional and unconventional petroleum sectors, increasing competition and encouraging sustainable long term activity,” said D. Gankhuyag, the Mongolian Minister of Mining.
In 2013, Genie and the PAM entered into an exclusive, 5-year oil shale development agreement to explore and evaluate the commercial potential of oil shale resources on a separate 34,470 km2 area in Central Mongolia. GOSM continues to conduct an exploratory drilling program pursuant to that five year agreement.
About Genie Oil Shale Mongolia, LLC.:
Genie Oil Shale Mongolia, LLC, (GOSM) is an unconventional oil and gas exploration company operating in Mongolia. GOSM is a subsidiary of Genie Oil and Gas, the oil and gas exploratory arm of Genie Energy Ltd. GNE, +0.29%
About Genie Energy, Ltd.:
Genie Energy Ltd. GNE, +0.29% is comprised of IDT Energy and Genie Oil and Gas (GOGAS). IDT Energy is a retail energy provider supplying electricity and natural gas to residential and small business customers in the Eastern United States. GOGAS is pioneering technologies to produce clean and affordable transportation fuels from the world's abundant oil shales and other fuel resources. GOGAS resource development projects include a conventional oil and gas exploration program in Israel and in-situ oil shale projects in Colorado, Israel and Mongolia. For more information, visit www.genie.com.
Forward Looking Statements:
All statements above that are not purely about historical facts, including, but not limited to, those in which we use the words “believe,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “plan,” “intend,” “estimate, “target” and similar expressions, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. While these forward-looking statements represent our current judgment of what may happen in the future, actual results may differ materially from the results expressed or implied by these statements due to numerous important factors.Our filings with the SEC provide detailed information on such statements and risks, and should be consulted along with this release. To the extent permitted under applicable law, Genie Energy, Ltd., assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
SOURCE: Genie Energy Ltd.
Genie Energy Investor Relations 
Bill Ulrey, 973-438-3848 
E-mail: invest@genie.com

Oyu Tolgoi Receives Decision From Mongolian Tax Authority

Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE: TRQ)(NASDAQ: TRQ)(TSX: TRQ) announced that today Oyu Tolgoi has received a written decision from the Mongolian Tax Authority on the pending tax act. Following translation of the ruling, Oyu Tolgoi will review it in detail and evaluate the implications of the decision.
Turquoise Hill will update the market in due course.
About Turquoise Hill Resources Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE, NASDAQ & TSX: TRQ) is an international mining company focused on copper, gold and coal mines in the Asia Pacific region. The Company's primary operation is its 66% interest in the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold-silver mine in southern Mongolia. Turquoise Hill also holds a 56% interest in Mongolian coal miner SouthGobi Resources (TSX: SGQ) (HKSE: 1878). 
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Forward-looking statements
Certain statements made herein, including statements relating to matters that are not historical facts and statements of the Company's beliefs, intentions and expectations about developments, results and events which will or may occur in the future, constitute "forward-looking information" within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation and "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the "safe harbor" provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking information and statements relate to future events or future performance, reflect current expectations or beliefs regarding future events and are typically identified by words such as "anticipate", "could", "should", "expect", "seek", "may", "intend", "likely", "plan", "estimate", "will", "believe" and similar expressions suggesting future outcomes or statements regarding an outlook. These include, but are not limited to, statements respecting anticipated business activities; planned expenditures; corporate strategies; and other statements that are not historical facts.
Forward-looking statements and information are made based upon certain assumptions and other important factors that, if untrue, could cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements or information. Such statements and information are based on numerous assumptions regarding present and future business strategies and the environment in which the Company will operate in the future, including the price of copper, gold and silver, anticipated capital and operating costs, anticipated future production and cash flows, the ability to complete the disposition of certain of its non-core assets, the ability and timing to complete project financing and/or secure other financing on acceptable terms, and the evolution of discussions with the Government of Mongolia on a range of issues including the implementation of the Investment Agreement, project development costs, operating budgets, the payment of taxes and taxation matters, management fees and governance and the existence or filing of legal proceedings against the Company and its officers and directors. Certain important factors that could cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements and information include, among others, copper, gold and silver price volatility, discrepancies between actual and estimated production, mineral reserves and resources and metallurgical recoveries, mining operational and development risks, litigation risks, regulatory restrictions (including environmental regulatory restrictions and liability), activities or assessments by governmental authorities, currency fluctuations, the speculative nature of mineral exploration, the global economic climate, dilution, share price volatility, competition, loss of key employees, additional funding requirements, capital and operating costs for the construction and operation of the Oyu Tolgoi mine and defective title to mineral claims or property. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements and information, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. All such forward-looking information and statements are based on certain assumptions and analyses made by the Company's management in light of their experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors management believes are appropriate in the circumstances. These statements, however, are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information or statements.
With respect to specific forward-looking information concerning the construction and development of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, the Company has based its assumptions and analyses on certain factors which are inherently uncertain. Uncertainties and assumptions include, among others: the timing and cost of the construction and expansion of mining and processing facilities; the impact of the decision announced by the Company to delay the funding and development of the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine pending resolution of outstanding issues with the Government of Mongolia associated with the development and operation of the Oyu Tolgoi mine and to satisfy all conditions precedent to the availability of Oyu Tolgoi Project Financing; the time required to complete the underground feasibility study for the Oyu Tolgoi Project and the approval of such study by Oyu Tolgoi's shareholders, the impact of changes in, changes in interpretation to or changes in enforcement of, laws, regulations and government practices in Mongolia; the availability and cost of skilled labour and transportation; the availability and cost of appropriate smelting and refining arrangements; the obtaining of (and the terms and timing of obtaining) necessary environmental and other government approvals, consents and permits; the availability of funding on reasonable terms; the timing and availability of a long-term power source for the Oyu Tolgoi mine; delays, and the costs which would result from delays, in the development of the underground mine (which could significantly exceed those projected in the 2013 Oyu Tolgoi Technical Report); projected copper, gold and silver prices and demand; and production estimates and the anticipated yearly production of copper, gold and silver at the Oyu Tolgoi mine.
The cost, timing and complexities of mine construction and development are increased by the remote location of a property such as the Oyu Tolgoi mine. It is common in new mining operations and in the development or expansion of existing facilities to experience unexpected problems and delays during development, construction and mine start-up. Additionally, although the Oyu Tolgoi mine has achieved commercial production, there is no assurance that future development activities will result in profitable mining operations. In addition, funding and development of the underground component of the Oyu Tolgoi mine have been delayed until matters with the Government of Mongolian can be resolved and a new timetable agreed. These delays can impact project economics.
The Company's MD&A also contains references to estimates of mineral reserves and mineral resources. The estimation of reserves and resources is inherently uncertain and involves subjective judgments about many relevant factors. The mineral resource estimates contained therein are inclusive of mineral reserves. Further, mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. The accuracy of any such estimates is a function of the quantity and quality of available data, and of the assumptions made and judgments used in engineering and geological interpretation (including future production from the Oyu Tolgoi mine, the anticipated tonnages and grades that will be achieved or the indicated level of recovery that will be realized), which may prove to be unreliable. There can be no assurance that these estimates will be accurate or that such mineral reserves and mineral resources can be mined or processed profitably. See the discussion under the headings "Language Regarding Reserves and Resources" and "Note to United States Investors Concerning Estimates of Measured, Indicated and Inferred Resources" in the Company's MD&A filed on SEDAR and EDGAR.
Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking information or statements. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve numerous assumptions, inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, which contribute to the possibility that the predicted outcomes will not occur. Events or circumstances could cause the Company's actual results to differ materially from those estimated or projected and expressed in, or implied by, these forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ from these forward-looking statements are included in the "Risk Factors" section in the Company's Annual Information Form dated as of March 26, 2014 in respect of the year ended December 31, 2013 (the "AIF").
Readers are further cautioned that the list of factors enumerated in the "Risk Factors" section of the AIF that may affect future results is not exhaustive. When relying on the Company's forward-looking information and statements to make decisions with respect to the Company, investors and others should carefully consider the foregoing factors and other uncertainties and potential events. Furthermore, the forward-looking information and statements herein are made as of the date hereof and Turquoise Hill does not undertake any obligation to update or to revise any of the included forward-looking information or statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law. The forward-looking information and statements contained herein are expressly qualified by the cautionary statement.
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Rio Tinto and Mongolia settle Oyu Tolgoi mine tax dispute

Rio Tinto is a big step closer to getting its Mongolian copper project back on track, after a Mongolian minister confirmed that a tax dispute had been resolved. Mongolia's vice-minister of mining, Oyun Erdenebulgan, confirmed to reporters in Mongolia that the developing nation would settle for a $US30 million payment ($33 million) from Rio; much less than the $US130 million the government originally said was owed.
Resolution of the tax issue solves the major dispute between Mongolia and Rio, and provides hope that other disputes over the cost of building the $US6 billion second stage of the Oyu Tolgoi mine can be solved quickly.
The first stage of Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine is already in operation, but the much bigger second stage is where the bulk of the value lies, and the series of disputes had stalled development of the second stage. Today's resolution of the tax dispute vindicates a recent spike in shares of Turquoise Hill Resources; the Canadian subsidiary that holds Rio's stake in Oyu Tolgoi. 
Shares in the Canadian-listed company rose 22 per cent over the past week to $C4.38, including a nine per cent rise on Friday morning Australian time and a further 5 per cent rise on Saturday morning Australian time.

The timing of the tax resolution fits with a September 30 deadline that lenders have set for Rio and Mongolia to settle their differences.
Those lenders have pledged just over $US4 billion towards development of the second stage of Oyu Tolgoi, but the deadline for acting on those pledges has already been extended by six months, and it is not certain whether Rio would have been granted a second extension if the September 30 deadline was breached.
Australia's export credit agency Export Finance and Insurance Corporation  is one of numerous international banks that have offered to help fund the expansion so long as a decision is made by September 30.

Source:The Sydney Morning Herald

Xi calls for economic links with Russia, Mongolia

THE top leaders of China, Russia and Mongolia launched a three-party summit, during which President Xi Jinping proposed a three-way economic corridor featuring cross-border infrastructure and trade development.
Xi called for an economic corridor linking Beijing’s proposed Silk Road economic belt, Russia’s Trans-Eurasia railway and Mongolia’s passage to grassland initiative.
“They should also beef up interconnectivity by railway and road, facilitate customs clearance and study the construction of cross-border power grids,” Xi said at the meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said the country hopes to boost infrastructure and cross-border transportation through cooperation with the other two.
Observers said the summit highlighted the countries’ eagerness for close ties to fuel their economies and firm up their strength in the region.
They have seen challenges in economic growth and world affairs, which makes working together the best choice, observers said.
Cooperation will mean more security along China’s northern border and a broader market, which will be a key for China’s Silk Road economic belt plan, said analysts.
It will be difficult for Mongolia to revive its sluggish economy and improve its international status if it continues sticking to its third neighbour policy, said Chen Yurong, a senior researcher at the China Institute of International Studies.
Mongolia has long upheld a third neighbour policy to strengthen cooperation with Western countries and international bodies. The mineral-rich country is experiencing its weakest growth in four years. Foreign investment plummeted 70% in the first half, Bloomberg reported. — China Daily/ Asia News Network

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