American Hiker Froze to Death


Colin_McLainMongolia / Ulan Bator / A 25 year old American, Colin McLain froze to death while hiking last weekend in the Bogd Khan Uul National Park overlooking the Capital city Ulaanbaatar.

Mongolia Naadam 2010 program


by_karin_sofieMongolia will celebrate the annual  three-day Naadam festival on July 10-13 in commemoration of 804th Year of Great Mongolian State, and 89th Year of People’s Revolution. Naadam festival, is a traditional game festival of Mongolia named “The Three Games of Men”: wrestling, horse racing and archery as well as the latest entry of anklebone shooting.

Uranium War in Mongolia


monatom_badamdamdin_ragchaaMongolia-Forward, a United States based company, announced that it is negotiating uranium mining in Mongolia. The Mongolian counterpart is Badamdamdin Ragchaa (photo) chairman and CEO of MonAtom, Mongolia’s State-owned uranium development company. In a proposed joint venture, the two companies wish to explore, mine and process uranium in Mongolia.

New Flight Route: Ulan-Ude Russia to Ulan-Bator Mongolia


eznis_new_saab340_arrived_27may2010_tomongoliaNew Route
EZNIS airlines the major domestic carrier, is expanding it's flight routes to regional (international) flights. The new route connecting  Ulan-Ude in Russia with Ulan-Bator in Mongolia will operate during the summer tourist season from June through October.

The 2010 summer schedule will include two round trip flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays  leaving Ulaanbaatar at 18:00 and returning  from Ulan-Ude at 21:30. A flight ticket will cost $152-$168 for a one way trip.

Ivanhoe Mines to Release New Integrated Development Plan for Oyu Tolgoi


Ivanhoe_oyu_tolgoi_shaft1Ivanhoe Mines to Release New Integrated Development Plan for Oyu Tolgoi Copper-Gold Project Tuesday, May 11, Followed by Conference Call With Senior Executives After Markets Close

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Ivanhoe - May 10, 2010) - Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN)(NYSE:IVN)(NASDAQ:IVN) will release the comprehensive 2010 update of the Integrated Development Plan for the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project in Mongolia before North American stock markets open on Tuesday, May 11, the company announced today.
A few hours later, Executive Chairman Robert Friedland will address the principal findings and implications of the plan in a presentation to the Merrill Lynch Global Metals and Mining Conference in Miami, Florida, at 12.55 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Mr. Friedland, President and Chief Executive Officer John Macken, Ivanhoe senior technical management staff and executive members of the international technical team that prepared the new development plan will conduct a conference call and webcast beginning at 5:00 p.m. EDT (2:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time) May 11 to discuss details of the plan with investors following the close of trading on North American stock exchanges.

The new Integrated Development Plan is a comprehensive update of the original 2005 plan and supports Ivanhoe Mines' commitment to advance Oyu Tolgoi into full construction, with production of copper and gold expected to begin in 2013. The updated report was independently prepared by a team of some of the world's foremost engineering, mining and environmental consultants.
The Oyu Tolgoi development blueprint contains the first published declaration of underground reserves for the planned Hugo Dummett block-cave mine. It also presents the results of extensive studies of two proposed complementary development scenarios.

Conference call/webcast details
The conference call presentation may be accessed by dialing 1-877-240-9772 in Canada and the United States, or 1-416-340-8527 in the Toronto area and internationally. A simultaneous webcast of the conference call will be provided through A portion of the presentation will follow a series of information slides containing details of the development plan, which will be posted on the Ivanhoe Mines home page at and available to investors ahead of the conference call. A news release summarizing the plan also will be posted at
The conference call will be archived for later playback until May 25, 2010 and may be accessed by dialing 1800-408-3053 or 1-416-695-5800 and entering the pass code 1833536.
Ivanhoe shares are listed on the New York, Toronto and NASDAQ stock exchanges under the symbol IVN.

About Ivanhoe Mines
Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN)(NYSE:IVN)(NASDAQ:IVN) is an international mining company with operations focused in the Asia Pacific region. Core assets include the company's 66% interest in the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine development project in southern Mongolia; its 57% interest in Mongolian coal miner SouthGobi Energy Resources (TSX: SGQ; HK: 1878); an 81% interest in Ivanhoe Australia (ASX: IVA), a copper-gold-uranium-molybdenum-rhenium exploration and development company; and a 50% interest in Altynalmas Gold Ltd., a private company developing the Kyzyl Gold Project in Kazakhstan.

Kidnapping Mongolian Women


human_trafficking_mongoliaUlan Bator - An International gang of human traffickers is in the process of kidnapping  someone I know in Ulaanbaatar along with seven other Mongolians.
They presumably will be engaged in forced labor and  exploited in the sex industry.
This article will be updated here from time to time as the story progresses.

Erdene* (Mongolian: Jewel) has been doing research for our organization in the past two years. She has done an excellent job. Erdene is a honest, intelligent, hard working, and good looking Mongolian woman in her thirties.

Erdene lives with her husband and her seven year old boy in the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar. She was raised in the countryside by a caring herder family. After they lost their complete herd several years ago during an extreme cold winter (known locally as Dzud) they moved to the city in order to survive.

Erdene learned dancing, plays the violin, and graduated college a few years ago. She speaks several foreign languages, which made her an excellent candidate for jobs in the tourist industry.

Update May 2010

In spite of the risks involved Erdene was determined to go to Europe to improve her family situation. In an online chat discussion, she explained: "i read your article when you write about me as girl named erdene, i am now smiling because i am lucky woman, it was possible they sell me, cause i dont know about human traffick. after you said it, i changed my flight 2 times and come here my self". Erdene managed to buy back her passport for 3,500EUR with the working visa in it, the traffickers arranged for her. All the others in her group have left Mongolia with the traffickers, we do not have any further information about them.

Erdene is now in one of the EU countries desperately looking for a decent job. In the latest chat she says: "language is big problem here, i watching tv to learn, help me find a job, I have work visa"

Erdene has a dream.

mongolians-with-water_escapadeErdene wants to live in a house with running water and not have to carry water from the pumping station down the road. She dreams of a  brick home with toilets, instead of the outhouse near her family ger. She aspires to live in a neighborhood with paved roads, replacing the dusty dirt road in summer and muddy road during the winter months.  About 60% of Ulaanbaatar citizens live in similar conditions in the ger districts surrounding the city.

Erdene  has a dream for her seven year old son, named Batbaatar (Mongolian: strong hero). Erdene wants a better education for her son. Education that is possible only for boys living close to the city center or overseas. Erdene wants her son to contribute to the future of Mongolia.

The relatively good paying jobs she had, contributed only very little in fulfilling her dreams, about 40% of her salary went to buy coal for heating her family ger during the long winter nights when temperatures come down to -30c.

The kidnapping process

Given her condition it is obvious she was a prime target and  showed interest when a head hunter approached her. Human traffickers are extremely nice people. They are very sophisticated in their methods. They have experience in luring  innocent people into their trap. They promised her a good job with high salary in a European country. They promised her that after she settles down, she can bring her son to join her in Europe where he will enjoy a better education.

Human traffickers move people from country to country like merchandise and sell heads for $1,000 to $5,000 each.

They sell women for prostitution, men for illegal mining operations under hazardous conditions and children for field work. Wherever there is a demand they will supply.

ger_district_ulaanbaatar_mongoliaThe source of human merchandise is in shanty towns around the world. Ulaanbaatar is an excellent source for head hunters. Mongolians living in the ger districts are poor but educated, naïve dreamers of a better life, good looking and healthy.

Erdene (Jewel) is a perfect candidate who can be sold for as much as $5,000.

Her recruiter  instructed her last week, to visit a neighboring country to apply for a visa at a specific European embassy. One of the employees in that embassy was bribed by the human traffickers, so they supply visa's without asking questions.

When she was asked to show her passport to her recruiter who escorted her to the embassy, he confiscated her passport, saying that he would return it only after she pays 3,500 EUR for arranging the visa for her.

They never told her what job, or what country she is going to. They said they will tell her were to fly to. Last night Erdene was told where to purchase the flight ticket and what her destination would be.  When she went to pick up the ticket she was told  that the price had just gone up and she would have to bring more money.

The human traffickers that lured Erdene have no office or website, they told her not to tell anyone anything.

I tried to explain to Erdene what all this means. I asked her to have a look at two Mongolian websites that explain the issue and have an emergency help line, in Mongolian, and mixed English and Mongolian.

Erdene is sure I am wrong about these nice people. Erdene is confident she has full control over the situation, and that no one can force her to work in the sex industry. She asked me not to do anything that might prevent her from fulfilling her dreams.

I learned all about this, because Erdene asked me if I can give her a loan for several months, to cover the expenses. She said she was offered a lucrative job, where she will earn a high salary and be able to repay the loan in a short time. I asked her several questions, and soon realized she is unknowingly being kidnapped by a criminal organization. I refused to lend her money for this cause, by doing so I would be taking part in a criminal act.

I emailed some of my friends that know her. One of her past employers wrote back that Erdene is "very active, ambitious and has a strong will to be wealthy" and this, in her opinion, prevents Erdene from seeing all the blinking alert signals.

Increase in human trafficking

Mongolia is undergoing dramatic social, economic, and political changes since the early
1990s. One of the basic rights Mongolians enjoy today is freedom of travel. Over the past ten years, the number of Mongolians studying or working abroad has grown from negligible numbers to an estimated 200,000 people. There has similarly been an increase in domestic migration from rural to urban areas. While more open borders and greater freedom to travel have opened up new opportunities these changes have also made it easier for traffickers to prey on Mongolians looking for a better life through employment abroad—particularly young women.

In a research conducted by the "Center for Human Rights and Development" titled Combating Human Trafficking in Mongolia, one of the main finding was:
In all of the trafficking cases that CHRD documented, the women were recruited and
transported abroad for the purpose of coerced prostitution, after being deceived
about the nature and/or conditions of the “employment” awaiting them. Most are
required to sign contracts, but the women are not told about the debts they will
“owe,” nor are they aware of the dangers they may face.

Mongolia has taken measures in combating human trafficking. The legal framework is undergoing changes to enable prosecution of human traffickers. Offenders may be charged  up to 15 years imprisonment. A few Mongolian traffickers were brought to trial for trafficking girls for prostitution in Macao, China and South Korea. In some of the cases the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence and refusal of victims to testify. In 5 cases traffickers were convicted.

What can we do?

I have contacted several NGO's and Embassies in Ulaanbaatar, but had no serious reply yet.

If you have any suggestions, ideas, insight, please comment to this story. Your comments may help in saving a few souls.

By: Dan

* Names and some personal identity details have been altered to protect the victims.


Erdenet Mining Corporation and MCS Group are on top of this year’s list of the best 100 enterprises in Mongolia. The present list for 2009 is the 9th annual one the Government and the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have prepared, grading enterprises on the basis of their contribution to national economic and social development. Among the criteria used in the evaluation are the amount of taxes paid and of investment made, and the nature of the programs showing a sense of social responsibility, the amount spent on them, and the results achieved.
MCS Group has headed the list for the fourth consecutive year. It paid MNT13.5 billion in taxes and fees in 2004, MNT23.1 billion in 2005, MNT32.5 billion in 2006, MNT47.8 billion in 2007, MNT67.2 billion in 2008, and MNT66.6 billion in 2009, making up a total of MNT250.7 billion in the last 6 years. The group created 2,690 new jobs in the last three years -- 616 of them in 2007, 442 in 2008, and 1,632 in 2009. 
Source: Undesnii Shuudan

The Business Council of Mongolia aims to advocate increased trade and investment in Mongolia and serve as a forum for dialogue on the important business climate issues. Join us at the Business Council Mongolia Official Website.

MNT1.5 Million for Winner of Morin Khuur Music Competition


morin_khuur_medUlan Bator / One hundred competitors will take part in the morin khuur music competition this week.
The morin khuur (translates as horse-head fiddle) is a two stringed musical instrument associated with Mongolian traditions and culture.

Competitors together with researchers, composers and morin khuur makers from Mongolia, China, Inner Mongolia, Japan, USA, Russia, France, and Germany will participate.

The morin khuur body and  neck are carved from wood. The top of the neck is made in the form of a horse's head, which gives the instrument its name. The sound is similar to that of a violin or a cello. It is played with a bow made from the willow, traditionally stringed with horsetail hair coated with cedar wood resin. Modern professional horse-head fiddles use a bow made with synthetic strings.

The winner of the competition will win a prize of MNT1.5million, second place MNT1million and third place MNT800,000. Sponsors of the competition have added several more prizes in various categories.

The music the competitors will play will include self selected pieces together with Mongolian melodies and western classical music.

The Mongolian traditional melodies, will include “Tsonkhon deer suusan yalaa”, "urtiin duu" “Uykhan zambuu tiviin naran” “Asriin undur” and others.

The classical music will include “Melancholy Serenade” composed by the Russian composer Tchaikovsky  and "Marcello Concerto" in D minor  by the German composer Bach.

Festival Events

April 28, 10:00, The first round of the Morin Khuur competition will take place at the concert Hall of Culture and Art University of Mongolia
April 29, 10:00, The second round of the Morin Khuur competition will take place at the concert Hall of Culture and Art University of Mongolia
April 30, 10:00, The third round of the Morin Khuur competition will take place at the concert Hall of Culture and Art University of Mongolia
May 4, Contest of Morin Khuur Makers will take place in State Philharmonic Hall
May 5, 17:00, The final performance of the competition ending with the awarding ceremony will be held at the Palace of Culture Center.
May 2-5 10:00-17:00 Morin Khuur art show at the Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery  (Fine Arts gallery)

Jamiyan – the Music Master

jamyan_teaching_muriin_khuur-2The festival is named after Jamiyan G. who is the Mongolian master music teacher who modernized the Morin Khuur music tradition.

Until the 1950's Mongolian musicians played traditional and folk music with no clear distinction between amateur and professional methods. It was Jamiyan the dominant music teacher who incorporated methodology into his teaching of morin khuur. These included developing ways of holding the instrument and it's bow, methods of fingering the notes on the string, and of moving the bow over the string. These methods were influenced by methods of playing a violin and cello. These changes enabled morin khuur players to perform European styled classical music. Jamiyan also developed a series of fundamental exercises that he used in teaching. These were later published in what became the standard method handbook  for playing morin khuur. His ideas contributed to the modernization of the morin khuur traditions. 

During the competition the competitors will show their skills and capability of mastering the techniques developed by Jamiyan.

A good video demonstrates  what can be achieved with the two string morin khuur. It is a piece named "Gallopping Horses" performed with a morin khuur and played with an orchestra. This piece was developed by the famous morin khuur player Chi Bulico. In 2001, Chi Bulico won a Guinness World Record by performing the  "Galloping Horses" together with 1,000 horse-head fiddle players. The melody resembles a wild herd of horses roaming the steppe.

Morin Khuur Origins Mythology

morin_khuur_4The horse head fiddle is evident in sources dating from the 13th century during the Mongol empire. 
There are several variants of the mythology explaining the origins of the instrument. All the stories tell about the love of a man to his horse.

The dominant story tells about Sukhe who found a young horse besides his dying mother. Sukhe adopted the young foal and took good care of him. One day he took part in a horse race and to the dismay of the professional horsemen, Sukhe won the race, even the local governor, noted as an evil man, was defeated.  That night Sukhe  found his beloved horse dead, having been shot with arrows. In his grief his horse came to him in his dream. The horse "told" him to use its bones, skin and tail to create a musical instrument similar to a fiddle. In that way Sukhe and his horse could remain together. Sukhe did so and the instrument is said to have a sad sound.

morin_wingsA more romantic variant tells about a shepherd named Namjil who received as a gift from his lover a magical horse that could fly. He used it at night to fly to meet his beloved. His jealous wife (and in other variants, a jealous lover) cut the horse's wings off, so that the horse fell from the sky and died. The grieving shepherd made a horse-head fiddle from his flying horse skin and tail.

Morin Khuur in Mongolian Culture

The fiddle’s significance extends beyond its function as a musical instrument, for it is traditionally an integral part of rituals and everyday activities of the Mongolian nomads. Playing the morin khuur is accompanied with dances, long songs (urtiin duu), mythical tales, ceremonies and everyday tasks related to horses. To this day, the morin khuur is used to tame animals.

weeping_camel1The use of morin khuur for taming animals came to the attention of the public in the West with the introduction of the "Weeping Camel" movie made as a graduation project by Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorn.  The movie tells the story of "Botok" a white baby camel.  During the breeding season several healthy foals are born.  The last birth is difficult. The nomad family helps  deliver a rare white colt. The mother camel rejects it and refuses to nurse.
In order to save the baby camel, the herder family spends the little money they have to get the morin khuur player from the nearby village to try to reunite the mother and her offspring,
In the movie, a unique method is used by Mongolian herders: they play music using a horse head fiddle, with a special song, they serenade the camel mother and the reluctant mother starts to weep large tears before reuniting with her own calf.

The words of the song are:
"Why are you rejecting your beautiful little offspring?
Your offspring weeps when it gets up in the morning.
Please let it suckle your tastey milk!

A Mongolian saying shows how central  the morin khuur is in the Mongolian heritage -  "A ger with a morin khuur is complete, while a ger without one is like a widow".

By: Dan

Source: ToMongolia

Six million heads of livestock died in Mongolia


dzud_joseph_tameUlaanbaatar / Six million heads of livestock died due to extreme weather conditions in Mongolia. 14.3% of the 44 million heads counted in the beginning of 2010 have been lost.

These livestock are the primary source of income and food for nomadic families, and as a result thousands are struggling to survive.

The Mongolian government has declared a state of national disaster in 19 out of the 21 country's provinces.

The National Emergency and Management Agency (NEMA) has published a summary of the livestock death toll for the 2010 winter. Out of the 6.3 million livestock dead,  3.2 million are goats (52%), 2.5 million sheep (40%), and the rest are cows, horses and camels.

Cause of deathNEMA_dzud_2010_by_Dan

This winter 11 snow storms combined with extreme cold temperatures, named locally as Dzud, hit Mongolia.

The temperatures dropped to -30 -40 degrees Celsius making it impossible for the hungry and weak animals to survive.

A period of dry summers in the past have reduced the amount and quality of grazing pasture. In some areas over-grazing has reduced pastures even further. Herders have had to travel with their livestock long distances in search of better pastures.

The heavy snowfall that covered the existing pastures, together with inadequate preparation for alternative feeding increased the death toll.

Impact on herders

More than half a million people dependent on livestock for their livelihood have been affected all across Mongolia. In a country of 2.7 million people, that accounts for 18% of the entire population that is in desperate need for assistance.

The National Emergency and Management Agency (NEMA) has indicated that 8,711 families have lost their entire herd. 32,756 herder households lost over 50 percent of their livestock.

The Red Cross estimates that 20,000 people have begun their migration towards the capital city of Ulan Bator in hope to find work in a city that is already suffering from a high rate of unemployment. 1,400  families have already migrated to urban areas following the disaster.

Severe snow storms, have claimed the lives of 17 people who froze to death while grazing with their animals.

Herding families left with small herds of a few hundred heads will find it difficult to regain their losses in the current reproduction cycle with fewer females to give birth to newborn.

The most vulnerable herder families with limited available resources are facing difficulty in securing adequate food to feed their families and fuel to heat their gers.

Impact on the economy

Eighty-eight percent of Mongolia's agriculture sector is animal husbandry, which contributes 19% to Mongolia's GDP, with a 1/3 of the country's employment dependent on herding.

According to the Mongolian  National Statistical Office (MNSO), as of 14th of April, the price of meat  has sky rocketed. The price of mutton has risen by 16.5%, beef 18%, goat 28.8%  and horse meat 7.7%.  In a country where the diet is heavily dependent on meat, the rising prices will affect all households.

The total debt to commercial banks, of 69,600 herder families has reached MNT63.9 billion. MNT2.1 billion of total debt is accounted for herders who lost all livestock. The government together with the national bank of Mongolia is developing measures to protect the herders remaining assets from being seized by the banks. The measures will include extending the loan term and exemption from overdue interest penalty.

The government delivered aid of MNT6.8 billion to herders, while international organizations, individuals and entities sent aid amounting to MNT3.5 billion.


The cleanup

As the snow begins to melt, the millions of carcasses scattered in the countryside pose an environmental disaster, water contamination risk and  health hazard.

The UN Development Program (UNDP), together with the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has launched a cash-for-work program to bury the carcasses and provide immediate income to the most vulnerable families.

The cash-for-work income in total is expected to be sufficient to stock flour and rice for three months of consumption for an average household.

By: Dan

Successful Steps in Fighting Corruption in Mongolia



Mongolia - The "Independent Authority Against Corruption" (iaac_anti_corruption_logoIAAC) of Mongolia has published the 2009 income and asset disclosure (AID) of 243 of Mongolia's highest level officials.

The international business community is encouraging the Mongolian leadership to take major steps towards transparency in an effort to combat corruption in the private/public sectors.

In 2006 the Mongolian parliament (National Great Hural) passed its first Anti-Corruption Law. The legislation requires that the president of Mongolia, parliament members, judges, central bank governors, auditors, prosecutors, civil servants of ministries,  local government authorities, and state-owned entities  submit their  yearly "Asset and Income Disclosure" (AID) statements.

AIDs is a valuable tool used by the  Mongolian Independent Authority Against Corruption to facilitate transparency and accountability. Once disclosure statements are collected, (15 February was the deadline) IAAC reviews, investigates, and analyzes them. In one case, an official who deliberately submitted a false disclosure was dismissed.

Since its enforcement, several thousand complaints have been received by the IAAC. Those with suspected criminal involvement were investigated, Several hundred cases were transferred to their respective authorities, and about 40 legal proceedings  were completed.

The president of Mongolia has urged IAAC to increase its activities.
"I must conclude that the performance of the Anti-Corruption agency is not satisfactory. Until today, IAAC attended only the slit and tip of corruption, not the core” – said President Elbegdorj in October at a meeting with the IAAC.

Income - top 10

The 2009 AIDs show that some of the officials enjoy a high level of annual income. Leading the top ten list are three parliament members  D. Zorigt (there are 2 with the same name on the list, this is not the minister for minerals and energy) who earned 19.2milion USD in 2009 (at the exchange rate of 1400 togrog to the USD). Following far behind are B.Chiujilsuren with 2.8million USD and E. Munkh-Ochir with 900,000 USD of income.

Apartments - top 10

Some officials own more than one apartment. Leading the list is G.Bayarsaikhan  with six apartments, following are E. Munkh-Ochir and D.Odbayar with 5 apartments each.


Herds - top 10

Mongolia is a herding society, Some of the most successful herders serve in the parliament. Herds include horses, camels, cows, goats and sheep.  D.Kekushuzan-Batbayar has a herd that is valued at 269,000 USD. KH.Badamsuren  has a herd estimated at 175,000 USD.  In third place on the top ten list is B.Bat-Erdene   with a herd of 104,000 USD.


Investors - top 10

Some officials are personally involved in developing the country and have invested large amounts in businesses. Leading the list is again D.Zorigt (not the minister) with 21 million USD of investments.  S.Batbold (Prime Minister) who invested 12 million USD is in second place and third in the top ten investors list is Kh.Battulga (minister of road and transportation) with 8 million USD of investments.

Savings - top 10

Several officials keep their earnings in saving accounts.  Leading the top ten is P.Ochirbat (member of constitutional court of Mongolia) with 1million USD of savings. In second place is N.Zoljargal (vice president of Mongolian National Bank) with 928,000 USD, and third on the list is J.Ènkhbayar with 642,000 USD.

The international business community was fast to adopt the new rules. Unfortunately the Mongolian citizens have been coerced to pay under the table payments to receive official documents or service they are entitled to receive by law. A recent survey by The Asia Foundation, in partnership with the Sant Maral Foundation found that about 20% of surveyed Mongolians said they were required to pay bribery.

Education is a key factor in changing these habits inherited from the Soviet era that ended 20 years ago in Mongolia. Several TV programs were aired recently to increase public awareness on the cost of corruption and to appeal to the public to report corruption to IAAC’s hotline. A three-part TV drama series entitled “Cost” was completed in February. The drama  is about how corruption affects ordinary lives of people and their families.

By: Dan and Otgoo

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