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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

[Courts approve MMC restructuring; Eruu Gol iron mine to list in HK: UB housing prices up; and 3rd anti-pollution rally this Sat]

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         MMC: Cayman, HK courts approve debt restructuring schemes

·         Wang Tai to buy stake in Eruu Gol iron mine in reverse takeover

·         Prophecy Announces $400,000 Private Placement

·         Mongolia to cooperate with Toronto Stock Exchange

Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -2.36%, ALL -1.37%, Turnover ₮64.5M Shares, ₮16.9 Billion T-Bills Primary, ₮71.7M Secondary

Economy

·         MNT gains for 7 straight days

·         BoM declines USD, CNY bid, ask, MNT swap offers

·         UB Housing Price Index Rises 2.85% in February, Down 4.44% from 2016

·         Mongolia may see 7-8 pct economic growth after recovery – IMF

Politics & Legal

·         Appeals court denies S.Zorig family's request for open hearing

·         Campaign launched in Ulaanbaatar to educate the "true" Mongolian

·         MP D.Sumyabazar appointed President of Mongolia-Japan Business Council

·         Agriculture minister P.Sergelen visits local industries

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for March 14, 2017

Business

·         Mongolia Economic Forum 2017, March 30-31

·         BCM holds monthly meeting with "IMF" panel discussion

·         The 8th National Renewable Energy Forum – Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – 5 May 2017

·         International Women's Federation of Commerce and Industry Mongolia launched

Ulaanbaatar

·         3rd anti-pollution demonstration to be held on March 18

·         Ulaanbaatar to expand its tax base, signs MOU with tax authority

·         Ulaanbaatar mayor meets with the city's entrepreneurs

Diplomacy

·         Will a Selenge dam damage Lake Baikal?

·         US military aircraft makes emergency landing at Chinggis Khaan airport

·         Mongolia secures safety for US military plane's emergency landing

·         Cuban biotechnology delegation begins visit to Mongolia

·         Mongolian Ambassador to Jordan presents credentials

·         Canada-Mongolia FIPA investment accord in effect after ratification by Canadian Parliament, announced during PDAC; full text of agreement

Health & Education

·         Russia to share experience on tobacco control with Mongolia

·         From Mongolia, With Love

Culture & Society

·         UN dispatches humanitarian aid to 3500 households

·         Exhibition encourages women to embrace their bodies

·         Mobile culture museum tours the countryside

·         War horse monument to be inaugurated on Victory Day

·         ICH of Mongolia: Mongolian traditional art of Khoomei

·         Identifying culinary development opportunities with chef Ts.Mendjargal

Nature & Environment

·         Rare wild antelope facing extinction in Mongolia

·         PPR outbreak in Mongolia a threat to snow leopards

·         Additional motion sensor cameras installed in snow leopard habitat

·         2,343 birds died from electric shock in 2013-2016

Sports

·         National adult chess championship to be held in Khentii's Dadal

·         Mongolia prepares for Tokyo 2020 with senior coach appointments

·         BMW's International GS Trophy heads to Mongolia for 2018

Art & Entertainment

·         Crescendo fine art exhibition to open at UMA

·         Live concert of five music genres to be held this Saturday

·         The Eagle Huntress: eagle eye for a story with wings

Travel

·         In the wilds of Mongolia: Horses, sand dunes and stargazing

·         Family Journey Among Nomads, Khangai Mountains

 

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

Announcement made after Tuesday market close. 975 trading -1.9% mid-Wed at HK$0.255

MMC: Cayman, HK courts approve debt restructuring schemes

March 14 -- This announcement (the "Announcement") is made by Mongolian Mining Corporation (In Provisional Liquidation) (the "Company") pursuant to Rule 13.09(1) of the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the "Listing Rules") and the Inside Information Provisions under Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong).

The Company is pleased to announce that the Convening Hearing in respect of the Cayman Scheme was heard by the Cayman Court at 9:30 a.m. (Cayman Islands time) on 13 March 2017, during which the Cayman Court granted the Cayman Convening Order, subject to the JPLs providing an undertaking that the proposed Cayman Scheme together with an explanatory statement, appendices thereto shall be disseminated after the Lenders have confirmed that the restructuring documents relating to the Senior Secured Facilities are in agreed form or after a relevant order having been granted by the Cayman Court permitting the dissemination of the scheme documents.

The Company is also pleased to announce that the Convening Hearing in respect of the Hong Kong Scheme was heard by the Hong Kong Court at 10:00 a.m. (Hong Kong time) on 14 March 2017, during which the Hong Kong Court granted the Hong Kong Convening Order.

The Company will publish further announcements to update the shareholders and potential investors on progress of the Debt Restructuring as and when necessary, including the dissemination of scheme documents.

Link to release

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1400 trading -8% mid-Wed after trade resumption

Wang Tai (01400) to buy stake in Eruu Gol iron mine constituting reverse takeover

[ET Net News Agency, 14 March 2017] Wang Tai Holdings (01400) said it agreed to acquire about at least 53% equity interest in Iron Mining International (Mongolia) Limited at HK$6.36 billion.

Wang Tai Holdings is not obliged to complete the acquisition unless it can acquire not less than 90% stake of the target company. The consideration for acquiring 90% or 100% stake in the target company will amount to HK$10.8 billion or HK$12 billion respectively. 

The consideration will be satisfied by the allotment and issue of consideration shares at the issue price of HK$0.13 per share, representing a discount of about 72.92% to the closing price of HK$0.48. 

The target company is primarily engaged in the exploration, mining, processing, sales and marketing of iron ore in Mongolia. The target group owns iron ore mines at the Eruu Gol Mining Area in Mongolia, namely the Central Section, the East Section and the West Section, each of which contains significant high grade magnetite deposits of iron ore.

Wang Tai Holdings also proposes to place, on a best efforts basis, up to 8,000 million new shares at HK$0.13 per share, representing around 8.64% of the enlarged issued share capital of Wang Tai Holdings. 
The aggregate gross proceeds from the placing will be HK$1,040 million. Wang Tai Holdings intends to utilise the proceeds for business development of the target group and/or repayment of existing debts of the target group and/or its related entities. 

Trading in shares of Wang Tai Holdings will be resumed this morning.

Link to article

Link to Wang Tai release

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PCY closed +0.94% Tuesday at C$4.30

Prophecy Announces $400,000 Private Placement

Vancouver, British Columbia (FSCwire) - Prophecy Development Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY, OTCPK:PRPCF, Frankfurt:1P2N) announces that it is undertaking a non-brokered private placement (the "Placement") involving the issuance of 100,000 units (each a "Unit") at a price of $4.00 per Unit.  Each Unit will consist of one Common share in the capital of the Company (a "Share") and one Share purchase warrant (a "Warrant").  Each Warrant entitles the holder to acquire an additional Share at a price of $5.00 per Share for a period of five years from the date of issuance. 

Company management and directors will subscribe for up to $200,000, being the equivalent of up to 50,000 Units of the Placement. 

The Company expects the Placement to close on or before April 15, 2017 raising total cash proceeds of $400,000 to be used to develop Prophecy's mineral projects and for general working capital purposes. 

The Units will be subject to a minimum hold period of four months plus one day from the date of issue.  Finder's fees may be paid in cash, in certain instances in connection with the Placement. 

The Placement and payment of any finder's fees are subject to the approval of the TSX and other customary closing conditions.

Link to release

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Mongolia to cooperate with Toronto Stock Exchange

March 14 (news.mn) Robert Peterman, director of International Business Development at the Toronto Stock Exchange has met with a high-level Mongolian delegation currently in the city. At the meeting, the two sides agreed to begin dual registration on the stock exchange market. The meeting took place during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention which was held at the weekend.

The Toronto Stock Exchange is listed ninth in world and has a registration of a total of 3278 mining companies and other entities.

Link to article

Related:

MSE to collaborate with Toronto Stock ExchangeMontsame, March 14

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -2.36%, ALL -1.37%, Turnover 64.5M Shares, 16.9 Billion T-Bills Primary, 71.7M Secondary

March 14 (MSE) --

Link to report

Back to Headlines

Economy

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

BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, March 14 Close

 

3/14

3/13

3/10

3/9

3/7

3/6

3/3

3/2

2/24

2/23

High

Date

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/e147de94-098c-41fc-a613-e68b961bc287.png

USD

2,458.38

2,458.80

2,461.32

2,464.00

2,466.88

2,468.55

2,470.25

2,470.84

2,470.83

2,473.63

2,498.75

1/10/2017

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/7fff4ee5-d12c-4bd2-8a56-d47fa1ab5b0d.png

EUR

2,615.22

2,629.93

2,607.65

2,595.95

2,613.91

2,616.42

2,598.95

2,604.14

2,617.84

2,608.32

2,681.43

11/10/2016

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/73256f8e-4c86-438d-9d39-350646eb7f40.png

JPY

21.35

21.44

21.33

21.51

21.67

21.69

21.62

21.64

21.92

21.85

23.49

11/9/2016

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/170ec7e9-2636-4b7d-a624-7ae9fef54841.png

GBP

2,983.49

3,005.02

2,992.60

2,995.36

3,015.51

3,029.40

3,030.01

3,035.80

3,100.15

3,086.72

3,183.26

8/13/2014

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/a481156f-5e01-436d-b063-c22ecd3ed0dd.png

RUB

41.69

41.61

41.57

41.85

42.35

42.31

41.91

42.33

42.67

42.73

54.32

6/27/2014

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/56dc9518-41a5-4bb4-9d57-167f6de07f2e.png

CNY

355.30

356.03

355.82

356.41

357.53

357.91

357.85

359.01

359.62

359.70

363.02

1/5/2017

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ab781b89-2767-4b9c-b3cb-b3c6cc603016.png

KRW

2.14

2.14

2.13

2.13

2.15

2.13

2.13

2.16

2.18

2.17

2.18

2/6/2017

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SGD

1,737.19

1,741.17

1,735.16

1,736.07

1,749.50

1,750.12

1,746.44

1,751.75

1,758.66

1,750.00

1,758.66

2/24/2017

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CAD

1,825.08

1,827.09

1,823.13

1,826.88

1,842.12

1,841.24

1,844.09

1,850.82

1,888.08

1,881.52

1,908.84

1/18/2017

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AUD

1,855.22

1,862.05

1,851.40

1,853.05

1,877.67

1,871.53

1,866.15

1,892.17

1,906.25

1,902.35

1,913.20

2/16/2017

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/d6b9f8ce-b8d2-4ce7-bdce-b85ce1812325.png

HKD

316.42

316.65

316.99

317.26

317.67

317.95

318.18

318.29

318.40

318.78

322.21

1/10/2017

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ae638f8b-a29a-4d70-90b3-52ad2a79d482.png

CHF

2,435.12

2,431.45

2,430.69

2,427.47

2,439.32

2,446.41

2,439.39

2,445.65

2,456.83

2,447.81

2,497.77

11/09/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,448 Sell ₮2,460), TDB (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,460), Golomt (Buy ₮2,445 Sell ₮2,458), XacBank (Buy ₮2,448 Sell ₮2,458), State Bank (Buy ₮2,448 Sell ₮2,460)

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

Link to rates

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BoM declines USD, CNY bid, ask, MNT swap offers

March 14 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid weighted average rate of MNT2458.10 for USD1.3 million, asked weighted average rate of MNT2458.62 for USD5.4 million and bid weighted average rate of MNT353.08 for CNY39.0 million respectively. The BoM did not accept the bid offers.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM received buying bid offers of USD1.5 million of MNT swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM not accept the bid offers.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

UB Housing Price Index Rises 2.85% in February, Down 4.44% from 2016

By BoM Research Division, Tenkhleg Zuuch LLC.

March 14 (Bank of Mongolia) Following is the public report of the February 2017 results of the "Housing Price Index" (HPI) research conducted independently by Tenkhleg Zuuch LLC at the request of Mongol Bank.

The research shows that the general index of housing price was 1,01 in February 2017. It shows a growth by 0.9 percent in January 2013. The index increased by 2.85 percent compared to the previous month. The general index dropped by 0.07% compared to the starting period, and by 4.44 % compared to the same month in previous year. Below are the Price index indicators classified by new and old houses.

The new house price index was at 1,14 percent. This shows a growth by 1.44 percent compared to the previous month. The index dropped by 1.03% compared to an earlier period of this year, and by 2.33% compared to the same month in previous year.

The old house price index was at 0.92. This shows a decline by 7.8 percent in January 2013. The index increased by 0.26 percent compared to the previous month and dropped by 5.53 % compared to the same month in previous year

Indicators

General

New houses

Old houses

Index

1.01

1.14

0.92

Index change /starting period -2013.01/

0.9%

14.3%

-7.8%

Compared to previous month

2.85%

1.44%

0.26%

Compared to the beginning of the year

-0.07%

-1.03%

-0.05%

Compared to the same month in previous year

-4.44%

-2.33%

-5.53%

HPI was calculated by applying Hedonic regression methods and the calculation was based on the information available for 4978 old and new houses supplied for sale at the real estate market of Ulaanbaatar for the particular month. 

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Mongolia may see 7-8 pct economic growth after recovery – IMF

ULAANBAATAR, March 14 (Reuters) - Mongolia can likely look forward to 7-8 percent economic growth once it rebounds from its economic troubles, the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) country head to Mongolia said.

"I see 7-8 percent (economic growth), which I think is achievable and sustainable," IMF Resident Representative for Mongolia Neil Saker said at a panel discussion on Monday.

That would still be far slower than the boom days when the resource-rich country grew 17.3 percent in 2011.

The IMF and other partners bailed Mongolia out with a $5.5 billion economic stabilisation package in February, after the landlocked nation was hit hard by an economic crisis in 2016 due to government overspending and declining revenues from commodity exports.

This rescue package boosted investor confidence and helped in a successful debt swap of the $580 million bond due 2017 issued by the state-owned Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM).

Holders of $476 million DBM bonds received new sovereign bonds in exchange and new investors bought $124 million bonds, taking the aggregate of the new sovereign bonds due in 2024 , to $600 million. The remaining $104 million bonds issued by DBM will be redeemed on March 21.

"The Development Bank bond is now being settled," Saker said, referring to the bond due on March 21.

"Mongolia did a good job talking to investors and the bond was five times oversubscribed."

Link to article

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Politics & Legal

Appeals court denies S.Zorig family's request for open hearing

March 14 (news.mn) The much-publicised murder case of the renowned political figure S.Zorig has gone to the Municipal Court of Appeals in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. Bayar, brother of the murdered politician has attended the hearing which took place on Tueday, 14th of March. The  attorney of the former member of parliament S.Oyun, younger sister of the murdered politician and founder of the Zorig Foundation participated in the hearing. S.Oyun filed a complaint to the Court of Appeals following the initial court decision; this was subsequently accepted and the date announced.

The defendants in the S.Zorig murder case were not present in the court. After the trials, conducted last December behind closed doors, Ts.Amgalanbaatar, T.Chimegee and O.Sodnomdarjaa were sentenced to between 24 and 25 years of imprisonment for violent assault motivated by greed.

S.Zorig was an iconic figure in Mongolia's peaceful democratic revolution in the early 1990s. At the time of his brutal murder in 1998, he was a senior member of the government. Many questions have been asked as to why no-one was charged with the murder of such a renowned political figure for almost twenty years. Clearly, the December verdict leaves questions unanswered.

Link to article

Related:

Court of Appeals conducting closed trial in murder of S.ZorigMontsame, March 14

Back to Headlines

Campaign launched in Ulaanbaatar to educate the "true" Mongolian

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) Launching ceremony for the campaign named "A Mongolian" took place today March 14. The education campaign is being hosted by the Social Development Committee of the Municipal Citizens' Representatives Khural and Education Department of Ulaanbaatar city administration.

The ceremony was held in manner of a discussion, which touched on the upbringing of children and creation of "true Mongolian".  

Throughout the years until 2020, 623 public and private kindergartens, 225 general education schools and eight educational centers will be involved in the campaign.

"A Mongolian" educational campaign's main objectives, in the margin of the implementation of the Comprehensive Policy on National Development under the Sustainable Development Goals, are to pass down the traditional values, compassion for the surrounding environment, to discover and support children's talents, and bringing up the next generation as creative, responsible, far-sighted, hospitable, friendly and honest citizens.

"Purpose of education is more than just teaching how to read and write. It has to be an instrument to bring up an individual who possesses responsible life skills and ethical values", said J.Gantulga, head of the Education Department. Therefore, he said, improving educational services and concern for children's upbringing must be in forefront of priorities for educational institutions.

Outputs of the campaign are to be analyzed by June 1, 2020.

Present at the launching ceremony were, Minister of Education J.Batsuuri, campaign initiator and Chairman of the Social Development Committee of the Citizens Representatives Khural D.Munkhjargal along with the leaders of educational organizations in Ulaanbaatar.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

MP D.Sumyabazar appointed President of Mongolia-Japan Business Council

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) Mongolia and Japan business council held its meeting yesterday, March 13, appointing president and executive body of the council. MP and head of Mongolian and Japanese Parliamentary Group D.Sumiyabazar was appointed as the President of the council, which is joined by some 60 members.

Over 30 business councils work at the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry aiming to encourage bilateral trade and business ties as well as to support companies and protecting their interests. The Mongolia-Japan Business Council works to improve legal conditions through studying the possibilities of exports, investment and entering of companies to the markets of the two countries within the Economic Partnership Agreement.

" – I will strive to intensify the councils' activities to broaden cooperation and partnership of business entities and to improve trade turnover, making many Mongolian companies to enter the Japanese market and exporting a variety of products to Japan" said the new President of the council D.Sumiyabazar.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Agriculture minister P.Sergelen visits local industries

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) On March 10, P.Sergelen, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry of Mongolia visited some larger Mongolian companies, Monfresh Group, Gobi, Sunshiroh and Best Shoes to get familiar with their activities.

Firstly, the Minister visited Monfresh Company, which uses 100 percent liquid milk for its milk products and three types of cheese made by French technologies. It provides 15 percent of the domestic consumption and has been exporting its products to Japan since February 2017. J.Temuulen, General Manager of 'Monfresh' company said "We got involved in a project of the Asian Development Bank in 2010 and received USD 2.4 million financing to make technological renovation.

Afterwards, the Minister visited Gobi cashmere factory engaged in manufacturing of knitted goods, coat, shawl and blanket. The Gobi Company, employing over 1800 people now, aims to have over 3000 workers by 2020 and to become number 1 cashmere coat manufacturer by 2018.

He then got acquainted with the activities of Sunshiroh, which exports its wool and cashmere goods to the UK, Switzerland and Japan. P.Borkhuu, Director of 'Sunshiroh' Company said that credit system of Mongolia imposes burden on domestic manufacturers. In other words, producers would get benefit from long-term loans with low interest rates.

The Minister P.Sergelen visited the last company "Best shoes". B.Tuvdennyam, Director of "Best shoes" Company requested Minister P.Sergelen to continue the government support manufacturers with its procurements and noted that government's promotion with procurement for three years would help local producers to grow further.

In conclusion, Minister P.Sergelen said "In the scope of the 'Industrial 21:100' program, Mongolia needs to increase the capacity of factories and develop small and midsized enterprises. In order that, we are getting familiar with some industries to study the current situation. Subsequently, we will develop a plan to establish new industries and increase the present capacities. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry will be working to promote local producers of Mongolia".

Link to article

Back to Headlines

AmCham Daily Newswire for March 14, 2017

GOVERNMENT

State budget deficit reaches 211.7 billion MNT

Summary: The National Statistical Office reported that in February 2017, the state budget deficit had reached 211.7 billion MNT, a decrease of 46.7 billion MNT compared to the same time last year. Budget revenue stood at 963.4 billion MNT and expenditure at 1.1 trillion MNT. Budget revenue increased by 35.9% and expenditure rose by 21.5% from 2016. The drastic increase in income tax revenue and increase in revenue from the payment of fees contributed to the lower budget deficit. Fees that will be applied under the IMF's extended fund facility program is set to be included in the 2017 state budget.

Keywords: state budget, deficit, NSO | The Official Gazette /page 11/


MINING

Designing cost-efficient megaprojects

Summary: Five feasibility studies are currently being conducted in Mongolia for proposed coal liquefaction and gasification factories. The factories would be built at the Aduunchuluun mine, the Tugrug Lake coal mine, and the Baganuur mine, based on logistics and their proximity to potential markets and available natural resources. The factories will be designed to meet international standards and the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority estimates that 1.1 billion to 2.4 billion MNT of investment is required for their construction. The opening of the factories could bring GDP up to 15% and manufacturing volume could double. Officials note that the outflow of currency could decrease by 15-20%, and the USD exchange rate could decrease by 18-25%. Up to 2.5-6 million tons of coal could be processed at the factories, and 0.4-1.2 million tons of engine oil and 500 to 100,000 tons of liquefied gas could be produced. Erdenes Mongol is set to cooperate with Polaris Asset Corporation on a coal liquefaction fuel project, and according to preliminary estimates, if 10,000 barrels of liquid fuel is produced, 269.5 million USD could be generated for the economy. If financing for the coal liquefaction and gasification factories can be raised, the factories could be operational by 2020.

Keywords: coal, development, natural resources | The Official Gazette /page 11/


The results of the Petromatad tender will be announced this month  

Summary: Petromatad will announce the results of a tender this month for drilling and other services their two planned oil and natural gas projects in Mongolia, choosing from three companies that sent bids. The deadline for other tender services for the projects has been postponed until May. The Non- Executive Director of Petromatad, Dr. Phil Vingoe, has retired and former CEO of Falkland Oil and Gas Limited Tim Bushell will be the new Non-Executive Director of Petromatad Group. After the news of Bushell's appointment was announced, the company's stock on the London Stock Exchange decreased by 13.6%.

Entrée Gold reported on their operations and says it is planning to invest 1.8 to 2 million USD for marketing and legal expenses to focus on their projects in Nevada and Mongolia. Entrée Gold budgeted 500,000 USD for technical reports for operations at Oyu Tolgoi's Baruun Shivee mine.

Keywords: Petromatad, oil, natural gas | The Official Gazette /page 11/


ONLINE STORY

IMF: No deadline set for Mongolia's negotiations to participate in the IMF's EFF program

Summary: Since Parliament's discussion of amendments to the Law on the State Budget has been postponed, the IMF has been patient about the matter. The Resident Representative of IMF noted that there is no deadline for the negotiations for Mongolia to participate in the IMF's extended fund facility (EFF) program, and that it is of the utmost importance that suitable policy for the economy be implemented. In order to participate in the EFF, a total of three billion USD of investment must be secured from international organizations. Currently, discussions are being held at the head office of Asian Development Bank to decide on financing to offer Mongolia. The IMF Representative Office in Mongolia noted that since the financing package has not been concluded, the amount cannot be announced to the public. World Bank noted that once the IMF's financing is concluded, the World Bank will provide support, but the date of issue and the amount of their financing is still unclear.

Keywords: IMF, Mongolia, economy | www.bloombergtv.mn

Link to newswire

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Business

Mongolia Economic Forum 2017, March 30-31

Mongolia Economic Forum (MEF) 2017 is scheduled to be held on March 30-31st at the State Palace, under the motto "Think sustainable, Act responsible".

The forum aims to bring together policy makers, the private sector, and civil society representatives to discuss economic issues. Over 1,500 participants attend the forum each year.

Forum guests include the President of Mongolia, Prime Minister of Mongolia, Speaker of Parliament, Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers, representatives of foreign company, local businessmen, public stakeholders, local and international media, and representatives of international organizations. 

Registration is now open at www.meforum.mn/register

Link to post

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BCM holds monthly meeting with "IMF" panel discussion

March 14 (gogo.mn) On 12 March, Mongolian Business Council held its regular monthly meeting among its members.

At the beginning of the meeting, new members of the council were introduced. Following John Langtry, Australian Ambassador to Mongolia briefly introduced Women`s Leadership Program (WLP), which is a sub component of the Australia Awards Mongolia and is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia. WLP is designed for male and female alumni of the Australia Awards Mongolia who have completed Masters degree programs in Australia and are currently working as mid career professionals in public, private and civil society organizations. 

Mongolia has reached Staff-Level Agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Three-Year Extended Fund Facility. Meeting participants discussed the effects of IMF`s program on economy. Economist D.Jargalsaikhan moderated the discussion and James Anderson, World Bank's Country Manager for Mongolia, Neil Saker, the IMF`s Resident Representative in Mongolia, B.Lkhagvasuren, vice president of Bank of Mongolia answered questions of participants. 

B.Lkhagvasuren, vice president of Bank of Mongolia stated that previous authorities spent US$ 8 billion in vain which caused current budget deficit. 

Economist D.Jargalsaikhan noted that now the Government officials will hear our voice. They become more obedient during economic difficulties. Thus we should constantly express our voice and demands.

Participants questioned that in scope of IMF`s Extended Fund Facility Program, Mongolia will increase six types of tax rates and social insurance contributions. Will it shrink the economy and cause bankruptcy for private sector?

In response, Neil Saker, the IMF`s Resident Representative in Mongolia: "Mongolian tax rate is low compared to other developing countries. 10 percent of personal income tax rate is at the same level as countries in the Middle East".

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The 8th National Renewable Energy Forum – Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – 5 May 2017

March 14 (Global Wind Energy Council) Mongolia has huge wind and solar resources. With large areas of Class I and Class II wind, the technical potential for wind power was estimated by NREL in 2001 to be in excess of 1TW.   

The Mongolian government is committed to exploiting the country's rich renewable energy resources in order to meet the rapidly growing energy demand and to improve energy security, and in 2007 the Renewable Energy Law was adopted, introducing a feed-in-tariff for wind power. Additionally, the government's National Renewable Energy Programme for the period 2005-2020 has a target of 20-25% share of renewable energy of total electricity production by 2020, which makes Mongolia one of the most strategic and most ready of the emerging wind markets in East Asia. The FIT, combined with the good wind resource, is already attracting wind developers, with the 50MW 'Salkhit Wind Farm' project in operation since 2013; the second project, the 'Tsetsii Wind Farm', is now under construction in the Gobi Area. There are dozens of other projects in the pipeline and are in varying stages of development.

Join us in Ulaanbaatar on 5 May at the 8th National Renewable Energy Forum, for a full day of dialogue and presentations to gain a better understanding of the real opportunities currently available in Mongolia. GWEC is a co-partner of this event, led by the Mongolian Wind Energy Association and supported by the Ministry of Energy, the Energy Regulatory Commission of Mongolia, the Global Green Growth Institute, and under the auspices of the Prime Minister of Mongolia.

Sponsorships are available for this event. Please enquire at Isabelle.prosser@gwec.net. GWEC members benefit from a 20% discount on sponsorship and entrance fees.

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International Women's Federation of Commerce and Industry Mongolia launched

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) The International Women's Federation of Commerce and Industry (IWFCI) Mongolia held its opening ceremony at the ASEM Villa Complex in Ulaanbaatar on March 8 International Women's Day. The ceremony was attended by over 150 representatives from Mongolia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and UK and addressed by Kh.Bulgantuya, Deputy Minister of Finance of Mongolia.

The IWFCI NGO, founded in 1992 in Melbourne, Australia, has over 5 million members from China, India, South Korea, USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Russia. During the International Women's Forum held in Melbourne, Australia in 2016, Mongolia officially received a right to establish its branch in Ulaanbaatar and O.Baigal was appointed as the President of the IWFCI Mongolia.

On March 9, O.Sodbileg, MP received Dato' Elaine Teh, President of the IWFCI in Malaysia, who also attended the opening ceremony to talk about female business and entrepreneurs and opportunities of international cooperation.

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Ulaanbaatar

3rd anti-pollution demonstration to be held on March 18

March 14 (news.mn) Since spring arrived in Mongolia, the skies have cleared and the smoke has decreased. However, the demonstrations against air pollution will continue even during the summer. The third air pollution protest will be organised on Sukhbaatar Square, on 18th of March, coinciding with Armed-Services Day. This demonstration will be a crowd funding campaign calling on the government to do more to protect citizens and build hospitals. Since December, these protests have been organised by 'Parents against Air-Pollution'.

Levels of particulate matter in the air have risen to almost 80 times above the recommended safety level set by the World Health Organization - and were five times worse than Beijing during the month of December when the worst smog of the year was recorded. Public anger over the government's handling of pollution has been growing on social media, where residents share pictures of the smog and encourage methods of protection. One of the latest trends is that Mongolians have been changing their profile pictures on Facebook to show themselves wearing air pollution masks.

For centuries, Mongolia's nomads have dwelt in tent-like structures made of felt known as gers (yurts). But the promise of a better education and jobs has lured hundreds of thousands to the big city. Ulaanbaatar has 1.3 million residents — almost half the country's population — and gers have proliferated as a cheap and familiar form of housing. With no access to the city's central heating grid, the ger dwellers must burn coal to stay warm. The smoke created by the ger-districts, most of which are located on the city's northern slopes, combines with the winter air to form smog which covers the city in a thick blanket.

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Ulaanbaatar to expand its tax base, signs MOU with tax authority

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 /MONTSAME/ "We will work towards expansion of tax base and increase of revenue", remarked Ulaanbaatar Mayor S.Batbold during the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Mongolian Taxation Authority on March 14.

On behalf of the Mongolian Taxation Authority, Director S.Zorig signed the memorandum formalizing the two side's cooperation this year.

"Mayor's Office is responsible for strengthening the material base of taxation entities and enabling working conditions for the staff which we will ensure. Today, we are establishing a memorandum to cooperate on assistance to taxpayers with the Taxation Authority ", the Mayor said.

For his part, the Taxation Authority Director said, "This memorandum is important for laying the foundations for further cooperation between the Taxation Authority and Governors' Offices of districts".

In the frameworks of the memorandum, implementation of taxation laws will be ensured in the capital and district levels and realization of VAT law will be intensified.

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Ulaanbaatar mayor meets with the city's entrepreneurs

March 15 (UB Post) On Tuesday, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold met with entrepreneurs to listen to their ideas and to promote their business initiatives and efforts.

Entrepreneur N.Munkhbayar introduced Mayor S.Batbold to his company that makes rubber paving slabs by recycling used tires.

He emphasized that his company's technology has a positive impact on reducing trash and air pollution, and that he wanted to provide Ulaanbaatar with low-priced, domestically made products for its landscaping projects.

Mayor S.Batbold told N.Munkhbayar to submit his company's information,  including pricing for his products, to the Office of Manufacturing and Innovation, the Procurement Agency of Ulaanbaatar, and other state authorities.

The Mayor said the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office will promote entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and developing domestic manufacturing.

N.Ganbaatar, the director of a construction company, said that his company started collaborating with Russian companies to build a 6,837 square meter apartment complex. He said the concrete foundation of the complex was poured four years ago, but their construction project has stopped due to issues concerning the land it sits on.

He asked the Mayor to resolve the problem facing the project. A state official in charge of urban planning told him that the issues concerning the location of the construction project are being investigated by a court, and after Ulaanbaatar's urban planning officials talk with state authorities  on land affairs, the Mayor's Office will follow up on the project.

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Diplomacy

Will a Selenge dam damage Lake Baikal?

March 14 (news,mn) Experts from Mongolia and Russia will hold their first meeting in June to discuss the construction of a chain of hydropower plants (HPP) on the Selenga river and its tributaries, Mongolia's Ambassador to Russia, Her Excellency Banzragchiin Delgermaa told TASS on Monday.

"A mutual decision was made according to the results of the intergovernmental commission meeting [in December 2016 - TASS] that we will exchange information in the first instance," the diplomat said. "Mongolia has received the conclusions of a specialist French company that also built HPP in Russia, regarding our two projects. According to their conclusion, the construction of the HPP will not actually exert negative influence on the environment. Moreover, Russia has its own conclusions and  studies," the ambassador said.

"It was decided to set up a joint research team with scientists and experts of both sides," Ambassador Delgermaa said. "We suggested holding the meeting with the participation of Russian and Mongolian experts in March but the Russian group proposed postponing such a meeting until June," she said.

Lake Baikal is unique, the ambassador said. "This is not merely a Russian treasure but one belonging to the whole world. Therefore we will undertake measures to prevent environmental problems and will jointly settle any issues arising arising" the diplomat added.

Russian environmental and scientific circles have repeatedly expressed their concerns about Mongolia's plans to build three dams on rivers that feed Lake Baikal, the world's largest and deepest freshwater lake and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Under the plan, three dams are to be built: one on the River Selenge, that accounts for some 80% of all water that flows into the lake, and two at its main tributaries - the Eg and the Orkhon.

The announcement coincided with the unprecedented decline in the Baikal water level that started in the autumn of 2014 and continued through 2016. (Tass.ru)

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US military aircraft makes emergency landing at Chinggis Khaan airport

March 14 (news.mn) A US military plane made an emergency landing at Chinggis Khaan airport today (13thof March). According to our source, the aircraft requested permission to land after one of its four engines failed. Permission was granted and the plane successfully landed at Ulaanbaatar's international airport.

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Mongolia secures safety for US military plane's emergency landing

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 /MONTSAME/ Ulaanbaatar-bound US military airplane C-17 made an emergency landing at Chinggis Khaan International Airport, just reaching its destination.

A faulty engine led to the plane's emergency landing at 13:59 PM on March 14, Tuesday at the capital airport, confirmed Mongolian Civil Aviation Authority. The airplane was conducting a scheduled flight from Qatar to Mongolia.  

The Chinggis Khaan International Airport staff secured readiness for the emergency landing of the C-17 airplane operated by 8 crew members, reported the officials.

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Cuban biotechnology delegation begins visit to Mongolia

MONGOLIA, March 13, 2017 (Cuban Embassy in Mongolia) - The delegation of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Cuba began its working week today with meetings with health authorities, pharmaceutical companies and businessmen interested in the products and therapies developed by the Center. Accompanied by Cuban Ambassador Raúl Delgado Concepción, specialists Dr. Manuel Raíces, Business Executive of the CIGB and Dr. Abel Hernández, Head of Department of Plant Biotechnology held meetings with the two largest Mongolian pharmaceutical companies EM-Impex Concern and "Monos Pharm "LLC and a group of businessmen from the sector convened by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mongolia.

During the meetings the Mongolian companies and institutions expressed interest in the Cuban products and therapies which were exposed taking into account the main diseases and causes of death in Mongolia. The study by Cuban specialists suggested specific solutions and joint work strategies to combat Diabetes, Hepatitis B, Diabetic foot conditions among other health problems in Mongolia, involving all sectors of society.

With the arrival tomorrow of Dr. Eulogio Pimentel, Director of CIGB, the program of the delegation will continue with meetings with the Ministry of Health of Mongolia and the National Center for the Study of Infectious Diseases. 

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Mongolian Ambassador to Jordan presents credentials

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) On March 5, Ch.Bayarmunkh, Non Resident Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan presented his diplomatic credentials to Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, King of Jordan.

After conveying greetings from Ts.Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia to King Abdullah II, Ambassador Ch.Bayarmunkh expressed his willingness to work towards intensifying relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Jordan in all spheres of possibilities.

King Abdullah II noted that political collaboration between Mongolia and Jordan is being maintained at a high level and underlined the necessity to broaden and strengthen bilateral ties in the fields of economy, trade and culture. He continued "Jordan will render support to Mongolia in every aspect.

In accordance with the presenting of diplomatic credentials, Ambassador Ch.Bayarmunkh met with dignitaries of Jordan to exchange views on bilateral relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Jordan.

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Canada-Mongolia FIPA investment accord in effect after ratification by Canadian Parliament, announced during PDAC; full text of agreement

March 14 (NAMBC) On March 7, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Canada's Minister of International Trade, met with H,E, Tsedev Dashdorj, Mongolia's Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry, on the sidelines of the annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) in Toronto to jointly announce that the long-awaited Canada-Mongolia Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) has entered into force, following its recent ratification by the Canadian Parliament.

This agreement will lead to a more transparent and predictable regulatory environment for Canadian investors. It sets out a framework of legally binding rights and obligations that will protect Canadian investors in Mongolia, and vice-versa. Strong reciprocal protections in the FIPA will help Canadian and Mongolian companies deepen commercial ties with confidence and spur job creation. Canadian Ambassador Ed Jager and Mongolian Foreign Minister Ts. Munkh-Orgil signed the FIPA on September 8, 2016 in Ulaanbaatar after over six years of negotiations; Mongolia's parliament, the State Great Khural, ratified the agreement late last year. The US and Mongolia signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) on October 6, 1994, which entered into force on January 1, 1997

Mongolia is one of 25 nations designated as a "country of focus" for Canada's development funding, with seven operational projects worth $40 million over five years, 2015 to 2020, promoting sustainable economic growth and democratic development. Canada is the second largest foreign investor in Mongolia, largely in the mining sector. In 2015, Statistics Canada estimated Canadian investment in Mongolia at approximately $6.4 billion.

Click here for full text of Canada-Mongolia FIPA 2017

Click here for full text of US-Mongolia BIT 1997

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Health & Education

Russia to share experience on tobacco control with Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) Delegates from the Russian Federation, including Olga Knorre, member of the Coordinating Council for Tobaccor Control and Victor Zikov, Deputy Head of the Federal Research Institute for Health Organization and Informatics of the Ministry of Health of Russia are paying an official visit to Mongolia with a view to support Mongolia on including principles of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) into the Mongolian Law on Tobacco Control.

Health Minister of Mongolia A.Tsogtsetseg met with the delegates today, March 14 to exchange views on the legal environment of tobacco control and emphasized on a demand to make amendments to Law on Tobacco Control of Mongolia in compliance with social needs. The Russian specialists shared their experience on tobacco control and expressed their willingness to work with related officials of Mongolia.

Mongolia became a party to WHO The Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004 and ratified the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, which followed the FCTC in 2012. The Law on Tobacco Control of Mongolia was developed and approved in 1993 and revised in 2005, 2012 and 2015 respectively.

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From Mongolia, With Love

March 13 (Love Without Boundaries Foundation) Over the last fourteen years of our work providing pediatric medical care, children born with congenital heart defects have always been so dear to us.  As most of you know, LWB actually began trying to help one little baby get the heart surgery he needed.  Today, keeping in mind baby Kang who began it all for us, we are asking you to consider helping a beautiful baby girl from Mongolia get her life-saving operation and a chance for a healthy future.

Mongolia lies between Russia to the north and China to the south, and it is the most sparsely populated country on earth.  Winters in this expansive land are cold and harsh, and access to complex medical care can be challenging.

We recently learned about a five-month-old little girl we are calling Annabelle. Born to an impoverished family, Annabelle has a large VSD (a hole between the lower chambers of her heart).  This causes her to feel weak and to have to breathe harder than normal. More dangerously, this VSD is causing high pressure in the blood vessels to her lungs.  Left untreated, this will cause permanent damage and will eventually end her life. The doctors in Mongolia who evaluated Annabelle told her family that their only hope is to find a heart center outside of Mongolia who can perform surgery.

LWB has arranged for Annabelle and her family to fly to China in order to have surgery with the wonderful pediatric heart surgeons at Fudan Children's Hospital. Doctors feel surgery should be done as soon as possible, and so everything has come together quickly. Annabelle is actually leaving Mongolia today.  Her family does not speak Mandarin or English, so LWB staff in China have arranged for Mongolian students in Beijing to meet the family and help them through the process of connecting to their flight headed to Shanghai. Additional volunteer students will meet the family in Shanghai and help them get to the hospital for check-in.  Such a wonderful team effort!

Surgery is estimated to cost $10,000, and we are still in need of $9,300 to pay for this essential operation.  We are so glad that we can show "Love Without Boundaries" to this desperate family from Mongolia as we work together to make sure their beautiful daughter has a chance at a full and healthy life.

Thank you for thinking of them today as they make this long journey. We know being in a hospital where they won't understand the language will be stressful, but hopefully our welcoming committee will help ease their fears.

If you would like to be part of Annabelle's life story, we would be truly grateful for donations in any amount.

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Culture & Society

UN dispatches humanitarian aid to 3500 households

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The second batch of a dzud-relief aid provided by the UN is on the way to the most vulnerable herder households.

Last December, Mongolian Government requested for humanitarian aids from international organizations operating within Mongolia, and the UN resolved to show assistance worth USD 1.1 million, and has been rendering supplies and aids to aimags in difficult wintering situation complementing the efforts of the Government.

Before Tsagaan Sar or Lunar New Year which fell on February 27, the UN provided the first batch of its aid in the form of monetary support.

As such, the second batch which contains fodder for livestock, minerals and drugs was dispatched on March 13, Monday, with a ceremony which was attended by Deputy Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh, UN Resident Coordinator Beate Trankmann and other officials.

The Deputy Prime Minister expressed his gratitude towards the UN for its continued support to Mongolian herders in dzud-affected regions.

The UN-CERF funded aid will reach 3500 herder households in 36 soums of 13 aimags.

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Exhibition encourages women to embrace their bodies

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) This year, March - International Women's History Month is being celebrated nationwide under the slogan "Be Bold for Change". Within the framework of the annual celebration, a photography exhibition under the theme "Beautiful body 2.0" organized by "Women for Change" NGO and "ICT Creative Division" studio with the support from the US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar opened at the Ulaanbaatar Art Gallery yesterday, March 13.

The exhibition aims to demonstrate that there is no universal fixed standard of beauty. Some 22 photos are being displayed at the exhibition, each of which has its own character re-imagined from the world famous fine art works addressing the beauty of women and self-esteem on their bodies.

At the opening ceremony of the exhibition, D.Zolzaya, Director of "Women for Change" NGO said "Bodies of "flawless and skinny" models on magazine are seen as beautiful bodies and many of us tend to compare our body shapes with them, only to get upset for not being able to be "perfect" as they are. It has a connection to the consequences of self-doubt, eating disorder or other negative psychological effects".

She continued "Women who were featured in photos of the exhibition are willing to break this petty concept of beauty through recreations of famous art works belonging to different periods by showing off their own unique beauty. Therefore, we would like to encourage young girls to have a positive attitude to their body shapes and look into the beauty of their own bodies by being bold for change".

The exhibition will end on March 26. 

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Mobile culture museum tours the countryside

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) A mobile museum named "Ancient Culture" of Dornogobi aimag journeyerd to Airag soum of the aimag on March 11. A total of 50 exhibits, including items that reflect local people's culture and tradition as well as natural and historical findings in Airag soum were displayed.

Specifically, two-horsehead fiddle (Morin Khuur), a Mongolian national instrument attracted people with their designs. One morin khuur with pictured leather surface has a nodding horse head, while the other one has three heads and three strings. Among exhibits there were saddle, pack and stirrup, related to the 13-14th century, found in the cave of Khetsuu teeg in Airag soum.

The museum, training and research center of Dornogobi aimag intends to make the moveable museum toured to 14 soums.

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War horse monument to be inaugurated on Victory Day

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 /MONTSAME/ Mongolian sculptor A.Ochirbold's work 'On the roads of war' monument will be erected at Victory Park, Moscow during the upcoming Victory Day, May 9.

A working group of the Mongolian Embassy in Moscow, designated to solve the placement of the monument, has acquired necessary permissions from the governing body of the Russian capital and other organizations.

Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj gifted the war horse monument to the Russian Federation in commemoration of the 70th Victory Day in Moscow in 2015.

The monument has been kept in the backyard of the Embassy until the date.

During WWII, Mongolia was a big contributor of war horses to the former Soviet Union. The people of Mongolia sent a half million horses to assist the soldiers.

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ICH of Mongolia: Mongolian traditional art of Khoomei

March 15 (GoGo Mongolia) GoGo Mongolia delivers you the intangible cultural heritages of Mongolia as series

WHAT IS KHOOMEI?

UNESCO registered Khöömei in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Khöömei is a form of throat singing originated in western Mongolia, in the Altai mountains. Mongolian traditions of nature worship influenced a lot to the origination of the khöömei. Khöömei usually praises nature, mountains, rivers, and so on. 

The performer imitates sounds of natural surroundings, animals, mountains, streams, and the winds of the steppe, simultaneously emitting two distinct vocal sounds: along with a continuous "drone", the singer produces a melody of "harmonics". 

The multitude of Khöömei techniques in Mongolia are grouped within two main styles:

  • Kharkhiraa, the singer sings a drone in a normal voice, while emphasizing the undertone or subharmonic one octave below. 
  • Isgeree, it is the overtones above the fundamental note of the drone that are emphasized, creating a higher-pitched whistle.

In both cases, the drone is produced with very taut vocal cords, and the melody is created by modulating the size and shape of the mouth cavity, opening and closing the lips and moving the tongue. 

In addition to that, there are more than twenty existing techniques to enrich vocal timbre, or the ones of ornamental character. They can be used in combination as well. 

WHERE TO LISTEN

Khöömei is performed by Mongolians in a variety of social occasions, from grand state ceremonies to festive household events. Traditionally, Khöömei is transmitted orally from bearer to learner, or via master-to-apprentice.

Khöömii is also popular in Tuva, a republic in south-central Siberia, Russia. Tuvan khöömei is less strong than Mongolian khöömei. One can play world classics with Mongolian khöömei. Lately Mongolian ethnic groups including Altan Urag, Khusugtun, the grand finalists of the "Asia`s Got Talent" show, Khalil and Domog are promoting khoomei to the world combining modern music. 

Khöömei matches perfect with sound of Morin khuur, the traditional music instrument of Mongolia. 

WHERE TO STUDY 

The National Arts Council of Mongolia, The Mongolian Throat singing Association and The Association for Protection of Altai Cultural Heritage NGO organize the international throat singing summer course 2017 in Khovd province in West Mongolia. Course is scheduled on July 2017.

Registration is available at throatsingingcourse@gmail.com and www.fb.com/throatsingingcourse

In order to promote Mongolian culture and cultural heritage in Europe, through the awareness-raising activities on khöömii, Routes Nomades Association offers a series of lessons.

For more info please visit at www.routesnomades.fr/en/teaching

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Identifying culinary development opportunities with chef Ts.Mendjargal

March 14 (UB Post) Mongolian sushi chef D.Mendjargal won the Asian cuisine competition at the 15th International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival, which took place from February 2 to 5 at Tuyap Fair Convention and Congress Center in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Mongolian team, consisting of master chefs D.Mendjargal, J.Otgonpurev and B.Battulga, seized six medals and came in fourth place in the team competition at the fiercely competitive event which saw more than 2,800 master chefs from 30 countries.

D.Mendjargal currently operates Miko Sushi Restaurant in Ulaanbaatar, allowing people in Mongolia to get a taste of Japan's finest cuisines. He spoke about the 15th International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival and Asian cuisines in the interview below.

Congratulations on winning the International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival this year. Can you tell us about the competition?

The World Association of Chefs Societies organized the festival in collaboration with the Cooks and Chefs Federation of Turkey earlier this year. Over 2,800 chefs from 30 countries competed in 70 categories.

I specialize in Japanese culinary, so naturally, I entered the Asian cuisine competition. Chefs from Japan, Korea, China, India and other Asian countries took part in this competition. Although I doubted that I could outshine them, I was able to win a gold medal. The Japanese and Koreans have standard principles and recipes for cooking certain cuisines. Hence, I tried to break the traditional Japanese way and infuse it with European food. I made it easier to eat for anyone.

I made a roll, maki sushi, during the competition. Japanese chefs put rice on top of seaweed. Instead of seaweed, I made a rice ball with fried shrimp inside it. I paid a great deal of attention to presentation and won.

How many times have you entered the festival? Have you participated in other categories?

I competed in this festival for the first time this year. Director of the Mongolian Association of Master Chefs (MAMC)'s Chefs' Academy J.Otgonpurev won silver medal in the Asian cuisines competition and head chef of SouthGobi Sands LLC B.Battulga took part too. It was really good that B.Batbaatar, a member judge of the World Master Chefs Society and executive director of MAMC, was appointed as one of the judges of the festival. It's a huge achievement for Mongolia.

We came in fourth in the team competition, which was very competitive. The organizers gave us a box of ingredients that could and couldn't be used together. We had to make an appetizer, main dish and a dessert using the given ingredients within a time limit of one-and-a-half hour. Points were deducted for using the wrong combination of ingredients. You have to start plating when there's five minutes left on the clock otherwise points are deducted.

Only 30 minutes are given for individual competitions. You have to make enough food for two within a time used for boiling water. Chefs are required to have expert cooking skills, manage their time well, and be clean.

How long have you been cooking?

I have been cooking for 18 years. I worked as a chef for over 10 years in the USA. I opened a sushi restaurant when I came to Mongolia.

Is it possible to compete in an international competition with Mongolian cuisines?

Mongolian chefs used to compete with Mongolian cuisines in the past. However, Mongolian cuisines aren't consistent with European standards.

Why is that so? Is it related to the use of meat?

It hasn't been recognized yet. I think it's because they don't really know Mongolian cooking. In general, the understanding and awareness of Mongolian food is very poor worldwide. This is partially the fault of Mongolian chefs for not promoting the national food. So we shouldn't say that Mongolian food isn't internationally accepted because of the meat.

Meat produced in Mongolia contains more than 300 types of nutrients. Meat from other countries isn't like that. I noticed that Mongolians aren't very good at processing and storing meat. Families make buuz for Tsagaan Sar. They season the minced meat with black pepper and artificial flavoring. The meat starts to lose color a bit later. I deduced that Mongolian meat doesn't go well with excessive seasoning. We need to observe these kinds of things and change the way we use meat. Moreover, people place large quantity of buuz on the balcony to freeze it. The buuz will likely absorb all kinds of chemicals in the air. We have to pay attention to these little details.

I don't put various artificial flavoring in the meat for buuz. I put in jamts salt (rock salt), anise, onion, and sheep tail fat. Sheep tail fat has low cholesterol and is good for the eyes and helps improve memory. As rock salt doesn't contain various chemicals, the meat doesn't change color. Overall, it's important to keep the Mongolian taste strong.

How challenging was it to learn to make sushi?

It is difficult. You need an extremely sharp knife for making sushi. One wrong move and you could slice off a finger or two. It could become a mess if you cut your hand in front of customers. Americans are scared of blood and find it gruesome. I don't know if it's due to the high prevalence of blood-borne diseases like HIV. If I do cut my hand, I silently go back to a room without causing chaos. People also don't like to eat food made by someone with a band on their finger. Only people with precision and fast hands make sushi. You also need to be friendly with customers since you work right in front of them in a sushi restaurant. You'll need to converse with them while working and even drink sometimes. I leaned to make all kinds of cuisines, not just sushi, while working in the USA. I believe I managed to learn it all with sheer effort and enthusiasm.

It's said that Japanese people don't teach cooking and that you have to learn from observation. You must have also had language barriers, right?

It wasn't easy to work all day on your feet and in front of people in the beginning. I was exhausted after a while. Moreover, people were telling me to find another job while I'm still young instead of tiring myself by working all day in a restaurant. Then I started thinking that I could actually work as a substitute driver, taxi driver or construction worker. I tried working at a construction site for a month. It wasn't for me. Other workers drank during breaks. I took out a loan so I ended up spending all my salary on loan repayment. A person who can't speak the language needs to work hard. When I was working at the construction site, the restaurant owner phoned me. He offered to raise my salary so I went back. Despite long working hours, you'll at least get to fill your stomach and get tips while working at a restaurant. I could manage miscellaneous costs with the big tips I received. Later, my friend kept asking me to work at his restaurant. I accepted even though I knew it wasn't really nice (to my old boss) because I needed money. I helped the restaurant thrive before returning to Mongolia. I lived in the USA for exactly 10 years and two months.

Mongolians eat buuz and khuushuur, which aren't light food, on a daily basis. Are there recipes for making lighter food using meat? Is it possible to use it to establish a fast food chain?

Fast food chains like KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King conduct extensive research of the market before opening a branch in Mongolia. According to the research, people usually ate khuushuur and buuz. We must use these food to compete against foreign fast food chains. It's clear that buuz and khuushuur can't become light food. We need just a little bit of effort. We could add color to the flour batter and add ingredients essential to the body.

I tried experimenting before.  I minced meat for khuushuur by hand and added sheep tail fat, cheese and other ingredients. It improved the taste and became easier to digest. There's nothing stopping us from coming up with a light meal recipe for Mongolians which uses meat. Mongolian chefs have already started paying attention to this area.

Light breakfast have been developed for Japanese, French and American people and people are raising the topic of creating breakfast specifically for Mongolians. Apparently, Mongolians have over 180 types of tea based on geographical regions. Teas should also be made specifically for one's taste and health. I attended the Word Green Tea Conference in October 2016. Japanese people make the finest green tea. They annually award the best green tea makers. I tasted green tea made by a seven-time tea champion. It was wonderful. Taste and quality of tea can differ depending on harvest and region. There's even a tea worth 120,000 JPY per 100 grams. Mongolia has opportunities to create our own tea culture in a similar fashion.

Can you share some of your goals for the future?

I joined MAMC with the hope to help in developing the Mongolian food industry and services. Now, we have established an Integrated Union of Mongolian Food Industries and Services, which has over 20 member associations. Our target is to increase the professional values of the food service industry and identify development goals. We also plan to introduce international standards to the Mongolian food industry, enhance the skills of chefs, and further develop the Mongolian culinary.

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Nature & Environment

Rare wild antelope facing extinction in Mongolia

March 14 (Al Jazeera) A rare species of wild antelope in Mongolia is facing extinction because of a highly contagious disease.

Almost 4,000 saiga have already died and scientists expect the total to reach 10,000 within the next two months.

Al Jazeera's Pearly Jacob reports from the province of Gobi-Altai.

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PPR outbreak in Mongolia a threat to snow leopards

A recent outbreak of PPR, a viral disease common among ruminants, has killed nearly a quarter of Mongolia's population of saiga, an endangered antelope species. The disease has the potential to spread to key snow leopard prey species in the area as well.

March 14 (Snow Leopard Trust) PPR is a disease that affects small ruminants, both domestic and wild, and can lead to high mortality rates. For rural communities in Mongolia who depend on livestock for food security and income, this is a very urgent threat.

The government has started a large-scale effort to vaccinate livestock across the affected area – but that's not feasible when it comes to wildlife.

The endangered saiga antelope appears to have been particularly affected, with an estimated 2,500 animals dying in just a few weeks. According to specialists, that's more than 20% of the local population.

PPR ('Peste des Petits Ruminants") is also believed to infect gazelle, ibex, wild Bactrian camels, wild boars and other animals. If those species are infected, it could pose a serious threat to the region's apex predators, such as wolves and snow leopards.

"Many of the wild ruminants that could be affected are snow leopard prey species. If they perish in large numbers, the snow leopard's food resources may become critically low. In addition, the capacity of local communities to absorb and tolerate livestock depredation will be limited by this outbreak as well, so we could see more conservation conflicts in the area", says Bayara Agvaantseren, the Snow Leopard Trust's Mongolia Program Director.

Along with the Mongolian government, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Mongolia is leading an effort to monitor the PPR outbreak in Khovd and Gobi Altai Provinces. They will mobilize a team of veterinary and wildlife experts who will collect fresh fecal samples and run PPR rapid test to monitor various wildlife populations. They'll also collect and map data on sick or infected herds and populations to aid with the livestock PPR Vaccination and Eradication National Strategy.

While this isn't the Snow Leopard Trust's primary area of expertise, we will assist in this effort as much as possible.

"This is a serious situation not only for snow leopards, but for entire ecosystems as well as for local communities in the affected areas", says Gustaf Samelius, the Snow Leopard Trust's Assistant Director of Science. "The efforts by the Mongolian government and the NGOs working on this issue are critically important. We'll do whatever is in our power to help combat this outbreak, and prevent the disease from spreading further."

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Additional motion sensor cameras installed in snow leopard habitat

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) Administration of Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park and Snow Leopard Trust NGO have made an agreement to conduct a multilateral study on snow leopards. Specialists have started the first phase of a study to determine the population of snow leopards in Mongolia last month.

They have installed around 41 automatic cameras in different areas of the Umnugobi aimag in the South Gobi region the main distribution area of the snow leopard in Mongolia. The study will be conducted in 40 days using the remote sensing cameras. 

Notably, 179 snow leopards were caught in 94 cameras installed in the area last year. Mongolia is home to the second largest population of snow leopards in the world. It is estimated that the population of snow leopard in Mongolia reaches 500-1000.

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2,343 birds died from electric shock in 2013-2016

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) In 2013-2016, a total of 2343 birds of 20-26 types died due to electric shock, a study result shows. Out of them, 867 birds were saker falcon, a bird of national pride. Today, a consultation workshop "Risk of raptorial birds to be hit by power of electric lines and possibilities to reduce it" was held at the Center of Clean Water Reserve and Nature Protection.

Over the last 10 years, a great progress has been achieved in the energy sector of Mongolia, starting to provide all soum centers with reliable energy and electricity lines based on concrete pillars has been used for it. "Although it is a durable and effective solution, it causes remarkable damage to the environment", said Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Ts.Batbayar.

"- According to researchers and scientists, birds including falcons, buzzards, and eagles are commonly hit by electric power. These birds have own ecological and economic values. For example, one saker falcon is valued at MNT16 million. We cause huge damage that costs billions to nature. Therefore, government, private sector and citizens should collaborate to solve this issue" the Deputy Minister said.

Officials from Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Energy Ministry and electricity distribution companies and researchers of scientific organization, universities, international organizations and NGOs attended the meeting. They highlighted the necessity to make electric lines safe for birds, set up infrastructure and financial source needed to tackle the problem and foster public and private partnership.

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Sports

National adult chess championship to be held in Khentii's Dadal

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) After 35 years, National Adult Chess Championships are coming to a soum, this time Dadal soum of Khentii aimag.

Back in 1982, the competition took place in Biger soum of Gobi-Altai aimag. And this year, the championships are being hosted by Dadal soum, the said birthplace of Chinggis Khaan on March 17-26.

The qualifying round of the championships are thus going to be organized by the Mongolian Chess Federation, Khentii Community Council with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Governor's Office of Khentii aimag as co-organizers. Magnai Trade Group and State Bank are sponsoring the event.

Interestingly, average of chess players to compete in the qualifying round is 22.7. Also, the 2017 competition is the 16th championships for national champion Ts.Batchuluun.

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Mongolia prepares for Tokyo 2020 with senior coach appointments

March 14 (news.mn) Mongolian athletes brought home four medals (one silver and three bronzes) from the XXXI Olympic Games which were held in Rio-de Janeiro in August. Now, the Mongolian National Teams are setting their sights on Tokyo-2020 in earnest. The names of the senior coaches who work with the country's various teams have been officially announced by Physical Culture and Sports Authority. The will take an oath together with the athletes on 20th of March at Mongolia's National Sports Centre.

The following coaches achieved the highest scores at the selection examination:

  • Freestyle wrestling –Senior coach B.Battulga as well as coaches Ts.Bayarsaikan, A.Tsedensodnom and O.Uuganbayar
  • Judo – Senior coach O.Baljinnyam as well as coaches D.Battulga, Kh.Erdenet-Od, G.Dashdavaa
  • Boxing – Senior coach D.Batsuren as well as coaches N.Munkhsaikhan, B.Purev-ochir and S.Erdenebat
  • Archery-  J.Narantuya
  • Powerlifting –  Ts.Khosbayar
  • Taekwondo –  N.Erdenebat and Kur Ying Yong
  • Para archery –  D.Baatarjav
  • Para judo –  B.Narantuya
  • Para powerlifting –  Sh.Enkhsaikhan
  • Para shooting –  B.Gantsooj

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BMW's International GS Trophy heads to Mongolia for 2018

March 14 (Motorcycle News) BMW's International GS Trophy - an off-road event open to all non-professional riders - will take place in Mongolia for 2018.

The event will pit three-rider teams from 19 countries, including Brazil, China, Canada, America and the vast majority of Europe against each other with a variety of challenges which in the past have included getting a bike down a river bank, across a river and up the other side to crossing a rope bridge carrying glasses of water with the winner being the team with the most water still in their glasses.

MCN Sport Editor Michael Guy took part in the 2016 event in Thailand as part of the UK team. You can read his thoughts throughout the trip by reading his GS Trophy diary.

Simon Pavey, chief instructor at BMW Off Road Skills, said: "The GS Trophy is aimed at every BMW Motorcycle rider being able to come and have fun on some great roads in great company. Of course this means the finalists will be skillful motorcyclists, but we want to make sure that the event is open, achievable and enjoyable for riders of all abilities to come and enjoy on their own bikes.

"The main route can be ridden on road tyres and entrants will be able to use BMW Off Road Skills bikes for the off-road tasks. We have the off-road options on the routes, so if you have off-road tyres fitted, you'll have the chance to enjoy the Welsh countryside close up."

To take part in the event you'll have to enter the qualifiers, which for the UK team take place May 28-29 in Wales.

Head to www.gstrophy.com for more info.

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Art & Entertainment

Crescendo fine art exhibition to open at UMA

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) An art exhibition called "Urnult" (Crescendo) by J.Anunaran is opening at the gallery of the Union of Mongolian Artists on Thursday, March 16. The paintings highlight the patterns, which were made by life and left on human bodies.

"The moles, spots and wrinkles, gifted by life to humans unplanned. These are telling the different stories, in which the people have cheered and suffered", explains the artist, who also named her previous exhibitions Metamorphosis and Freewill.

Her paintings are usually asymmetrical, in her own words, "anti-symmetrical", and have been painted in negative effects.

The exhibition will last until the end of March 23.

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Live concert of five music genres to be held this Saturday

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 (MONTSAME) Music artists of Ulaanbaatar Ensemble will be organizing "5 Tones" live concert of traditional and electric instruments on March 18.

The concert will include violinist Deegii, zither musician Otgoo, dulcimer musician Baraa, flautist Miigaa, horn trumpeter Chinbaa, "Khangarid" national music orchestra and FIX band. With the mixture of different waves of music, the concert will play world classics and famous songs. Directed by R.Munkhsaikhan and produced by composer O.Chinbat, the concert will take place at the Ulaanbaatar Ensemble stage.

Artists in details:

  • - Ch.Delgertsetseg /Violinist, State Honored Musician/
  • - O.Chinbat /Horn brass musician, State Honored Musician/
  • - Kh.Barkhuu /Dulcimer musician, State Honored Musician/
  • - B.Otgonchimeg /Zither musician, State Honored Musician/
  • - B.Myagmartseren /Flautist, State Honored Musician/
  • - R.Ganbat /Conductor, State Honored Musician/
  • - "Khangarid" national music orchestra
  • - Dancers of Ulaanbaatar ensemble
  • - FIX band

Music genres:

  • - Rock
  • - Pop
  • - Classics
  • - Modern
  • - Folk music

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The Eagle Huntress: eagle eye for a story with wings

March 15 (The Australian) The story of The Eagle Huntress began with a photograph: a rosy-cheeked, smiling girl standing on a snowy mountaintop, with a golden eagle on her forearm. It's an image that seems like a fairytale or a fantasy, and in some ways, it ­represents both truth and dream.

It was taken in the Altai Mountains, in Mongolia. Among the ­nomadic Kazakhs, training a ­golden eagle to hunt for meat and fur has been part of their way of life for centuries — but only for men. Aisholpan, the 13-year-old girl in the photograph, has other ideas. She wants to be the first ­female member of the family to become an eagle hunter.

The photograph caught the eye of New York-based Englishman Otto Bell. He decided to go to Mongolia to meet the subject of the image and make a film about her.

Bell describes his trip as whimsical. It was certainly impulsive. He hadn't made a feature-length documentary before, but he was a seasoned traveller with plenty of experience shooting footage for short-form branded content.

"I'd made a lot of short films in foreign parts of the world," he says. "I've made more in a foreign language than I have in English, so I wasn't worried about working with a translator or anything like that. Or the remoteness of it, although it probably is the most remote location I've ever been to."

On his first trip, his plan was to make contact with Aisholpan and her family, convince them to take part in the film, and shoot some images for a "sizzle reel" that he could take back to show to potential investors. He travelled with Asher Svidensky, who took the original photograph, and another camera operator, Christopher Raymond.

It took a while to locate the family, he says. Yet what happened on that first day was an ­extraordinary stroke of luck. They had arrived at the moment when Aisholpan and her father — who encourages his daughter's ­ambition — were preparing to steal a young eagle from its nest, ready for her to train. They agreed to be filmed doing it. Once they made their way to the location, Bell ­hastily worked out where to put the cameras, and he gave Aisholpan a small GoPro camera, which she placed under her cardigan. They shot for about 12 ­minutes, enough time to remove the young bird from its nest before the mother returned.

Often, Bell says, documentary makers are "telling a story to some degree in retrospect". Something has already happened that sets things in train or creates the ­impetus for the film. Then, he says, "you turn up, and often you have to tell the first part of the story using archives or talking head ­interviews. But in this case we were there at the beginning, we got that magic first step."

Several reviewers have cast doubt on this scene, suggesting that it was set up or shot more than once. If he'd set it up, Bell says, he would have done a better job — he still gets a bit frustrated that you can see the little camera strapped on to Aisholpan. But he can hardly complain, he adds. "I think what lends it this fairytale-esque quality is that we were there at the very beginning and followed her through to the very end. We have the perfect story arc — and that's why it feels like a fairytale."

For the second trip, he returned to film a major event, the annual Golden Eagle Festival, in which Aisholpan would be ­competing against 70 men. It takes place in a huge natural arena outside the regional capital.

He brought in an old friend, director of photography Simon Niblett, who had the equipment and expertise that he needed. "I said to him, this land is so vast, if we are going to do justice to it I'm going to need you to bring your drone and that amazing crane that folds away into a snowboard bag" — a sturdy, lightweight device made out of aluminium. He wanted a sense of occasion, a sense of the place and space. "After that first visit, I started to really get a sense of responsibility towards the ­family, the film and the audience," he says. "I'm a firm believer in the idea that just because something is true it doesn't mean that it can't also be beautiful. You want to do the best possible job in the highest style you can. We only had three crew members, but we threw the kitchen sink at it."

We see the various phases of the competition, from the judging of looks and presentation to a race against the clock, calling the eagle down from the mounting to alight on the hunter's arm. Some filmmakers might have made the contest the culmination of the film, and Bell is happy to admit that this was something he considered.

There was plenty of discussion in the editing suite about how to end it, he says. The competition has drama and tension; the hunt has frustrations, false starts, less obvious pay-offs. Yet the contest wasn't what Aisholpan was most concerned with. "It seemed to me that all she really wanted to do was go out and hunt with her dad. And that was really the victory she was going for."

Following her for that part of the story was extraordinarily difficult, he says. Shooting in the mountains in the depths of winter was "a bit like being underwater, when you are filming in minus 40 or minus 50. And that's how cold it was at the start of the day — everything moves two or three times slower than normal." They quickly realised that if they waited until the temperature had "warmed up to about minus 20", things got a bit easier. "That when your equipment would kind of come back to life, that's when you would get five, 10 minutes out of your batteries, things like that."

They had set aside five days for this, and ended up spending more than 21 days following her first eagle hunt.

Only one part of the story is out of sequence, Bell says, the opening scene in which Aisholpan's father sets an eagle free, after hunting with it for seven years. He speaks affectionately to the bird as he says farewell.

The ritual of farewell involves the sacrifice of a sheep. "When a family member dies or immigrates to a different country, they'll kill a sheep and have a big feast," Bell says. "So it's a real mark of respect to give that same honour to the eagle. They are treated like a member of the family." There's a practical reason for the ritual. "They've worked out that those birds reach the age of maturity at seven or eight, that's when they're ready to breed. It's about releasing them so that they can go off and start their own family.

"They're not fully tamed, they're not housebroken. And when they are released into the wild, they know how to hunt." The connection remains, however. "When the hunters look up in the sky, they can recognise a bird ­circling the yurt, and say, that was my eagle 10 years ago." Eventually, that will be part of Aisholpan's experience too.

The Eagle Huntress opens tomorrow.

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Related:

The Eagle Huntress: Visually stunning but factually looseWingham Chronicle, March 15

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Travel

In the wilds of Mongolia: Horses, sand dunes and stargazing

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, March 14 (AP) — I'm a city girl. I did not grow up camping, have never pitched a tent and know nothing of the Girl Scouts beyond Thin Mints or Samoa cookies. Certainly no one would use the words "rugged" or "outdoorsy" to describe me.

So I definitely had a few reservations when my husband suggested a vacation in the wilds of central Mongolia.

My trepidation only grew as I binged on travel reviews bemoaning makeshift bathrooms and swarming insects.

But I ended up loving every minute in Mongolia, a country steeped in history, stunning scenery and welcoming locals. I stepped outside my comfort zone and into the trip of a lifetime. And here's why you should too.

GET OFF THE GRID

Mongolia, a country of 3 million people slightly smaller than Alaska, is one of the most sparsely populated places in the world.

You can go hours, even days, without seeing another human while traveling through Mongolia's countryside. Instead, you'll find a vibrant blue horizon and empty, rolling grasslands dotted with horses, cows, sheep, goats and yaks.

You'll be forced to unplug as cell service and Wi-Fi is mostly non-existent outside of the larger cities.

So say goodbye to Facebook rants and traffic jams and say hello to a seemingly endless untouched landscape. Your only roadblock is the occasional cow.

BOOK A GUIDE

As avid travelers accustomed to DIY adventures, we rarely book tours. But my top tip for this wonderland is to find yourself an expert.

There are few road signs and English is not widely used, so a local guide with knowledge of the routes and language is highly recommended.

You will also need a four-wheel drive vehicle to navigate the mostly unpaved terrain.

Our expert, good-humored guide, Munkh Bileg, whom we hired through Nomadic Discovery , tailored our private tour to our interests and time constraints to maximize our Mongolian experience.

We rode camels across sand dunes and horses at sunset. We met herder families and sampled local cuisine, including fermented mare's milk and dried curds. Most of our days were spent off-roading over mountains and across rivers, simply soaking in Mongolia's other-worldly landscape.

MUST-SEES

For the history buff: Erdene Zuu Monastery is located in Kharkhorin, on the northern border of the Ovorkhangai Province. Get your fill of ornate Buddha statues, elaborate wall paintings and artifacts dating back to the 18th century while exploring the three remaining Chinese-style temples at one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia.

For the nature lover: The Orkhon waterfall (also called the Ulaan Tsutgalan waterfall) is located in Ovorkhangai Province, around 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the town of Kharkhorin. A hike to the edge of this massive, 65-foot (20-meter) waterfall offers stunning views of dark volcanic rock surrounded by a lush valley.

Also, be sure to stop by the pristine Lake Ogii in the south eastern corner of the Arkhangai Province. Like most of Mongolia, it felt like we had traveled back to a time before humans as the only other visitors were a group of horses splashing and lounging about in the calm waters.

For a glimpse of desert dunes: Elsen Tasarkhai is a sand strip located in Bulgan Province. While we didn't have time to explore Mongolia's famed Gobi Desert, we made a quick stop at this 50-mile (80-kilometer) stretch of golden hills for a relaxing tour via camels.

GER LIFE

As the sun sets there is little else to do besides stargazing and cozying in your ger (pronounced "gare"), a traditional nomad home.

Apparently we were right on trend as an $8,000 version of the circular tent, or yurt, was featured in the holiday gift guide from Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle website, goop.

Our home base was the Tsagaan Sum hot springs and tourist camp in Khoton Soum, Arkhangai Province (approximately 280 miles or 460 kilometers west of Ulaanbaatar).

The hustle and bustle of city life was but a distant memory as we fell asleep to the crackle of a wood-burning stove and woke to the sounds of horses neighing outside our ger.

GOOD TO KNOW

The flies will swarm as soon as you step outside, as will the mosquitoes. So pack bug spray and long-sleeved layers.

Western-style bathrooms are few and far between outside of Ulaanbaatar. Be prepared to cop a squat when nature calls.

Ulaanbaatar is Mongolia's bustling, traffic-jammed capital city, but tourist attractions are few. Stop by a grocery store to load up on water, snacks and essentials. Then head to the countryside.

Speaking of food, get ready for meat— mostly lamb_and lots of it. Mongolian cuisine is about as "farm to fork" as it gets. Refrigeration in the countryside isn't common so your dinner was likely plucked from the pasture that very day.

___

AP Video: A Minute in Mongolia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9n7hVK7s08&sns=em

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Family Journey Among Nomads, Khangai Mountains

Ulaan Baatar – Central Grasslands – River Valleys & Lakeland – Central Grasslands – Ulaan Baatar

ITINERARY

Journey to the land of Genghis Khan where you'll witness spectacular scenery, spend time with nomadic families, camp alongside pristine lakes, climb extinct volcanoes, relax in a hot spring, gaze at spellbinding night skies and more on this nine-day family adventure to magical Mongolia. These family itineraries are private trips of discovery adapted to suit your family and can be fully customised whether you're looking for be adventure, education or exploration.

This holiday traditionally starts and ends in the capital Ulaan Baatar. For this holiday you will have your own private vehicle and your own dedicated trip assistant.

See sample itinerary below:

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Suite 303, Level 3, Elite Complex

14 Chinggis Avenue, Sukhbaatar District 1

Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
Email: info@covermongolia.com

Website: www.covermongolia.com

Phone (Office): +976 7711 6779

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