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  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    Yes, I am afraid they will not make a difference to either international exploration and mining companies or to overall investor sentiment towards Mongolia.
    An opportunity lost, and it may be a while before conditions dictate another head of steam for more changes.
    May 1 07:59 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    The much-talked about and over-hyped amendments to the Minerals Law are in parliament.
    In detail, they are nowhere near what has been promised by the Government.
    Very disappointing. Retrograde steps to state control and participation. Very little encouragement for the private sector.
    The supposed re-institution of exploration license issuance will come with a very big caveat. It will only be allowed in areas defined by the government. I tip that they will be small, will take some time to define, and will be compromised by various interests.
    May 1 05:45 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    Of course Pathfinder is correct, but practicalities and politics will mitigate against third country rail access as a short-medium term option:

    I cannot imagine any likely importer of Mongolian products (ROK, Japan) accepting products that have come via a DPRK port. Also, the DPRK route involves two countries transit. There is no common border between Mongolia and North Korea. (One of the problems with HBOil's plans)

    Russian rail links are currently sub-standard and filled to capacity with Russian exports exiting to the Pacific. A test train of coal exports left Mongolia 18 months ago with great fanfare, never to be heard of again. It disappeared into darkest Siberia before getting anywhere near Vladivostok.

    Russia is a competitor to Mongolia's exports.

    China wants to keep all of Mongolia's exports as a captive market. Unless there is some pretty nifty negotiations, I cannot imagine transit rights being easily granted.

    Having said that, there are certain international treaties, obligations and rights that could be used to leverage access in the long term, and Mongolia is using those avenues.
    Feb 17 04:09 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    If he was paid by the truthful word he would be a pauper.

    You are right. Even the Asia Foundation, the original proponents for his award acknowledge this and have disowned him. The Goldman Prize people still provide a partial defense by promoting his side of the story but there is next to no support locally and he is recognized for what he is.

    Hence the jail sentence.

    The focus of my comment was more the inane, biased and obsessive nature of this eco-warrior's writing. (I almost said reporting).

    While there are lots of stories about Modern Mongolia that should be thoroughly investigated and extensively aired, this is not one of them.


    * Erdenes TT debt levels $720m and rising)
    * Erdenet's profits
    * MAK's Tsagaan Suvraga financial issues
    * MMC
    * The new Minerals Law amendments (unprecedented state control and no recognition of private sector)
    * The new mineral policy (back to a central market economy)
    * Golomt (more ugly facts to come)
    * Property values and construction standards
    * The structural faults with the new, much acclaimed but not as yet successful Investment Law.
    * A detailed analysis of the Government's attacks on OT for the past three years

    just as the tip of the iceberg.
    Feb 7 06:57 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    A terrific expose by Keith Harmon Snow, whose opinions get quoted on this board on occasion as an authority on Mongolia:

    (I'm being sarcastic, as I am on record as calling his material total rubbish).

    An amazing piece of "journalism" that I am sure will sink without a trace as per his previous efforts. As I am very familiar with all of the players and the events, I gave serious thought to writing a response, but quickly realized that to rebut all of his willful errors, lies and spin would be a huge job with probably no thanks or credit.

    It would be easier to write a critique pointing out what he got right. It would be a short piece.

    Of marginal interest it is noteworthy that he writes constantly about wicked western companies and states but never mentions Mongolia's nearest neighbors and their influence.

    My advice is to read it if you have a 30 minutes of your life you wish to waste, and if you want to end up feeling slightly ill.
    Feb 7 06:29 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    More (correct) facts:

    Peter permanently departed the Embassy in Mongolia on 29 November, 2008.

    Your statement that he was on holiday at the time of his death almost a year later may be correct (I do not know), but he was not on holidays from Mongolia.

    Peter O'Brien's tragic death was officially notified on 12th November 2009 and he was buried on 25 November. That doesn't quite add up to your story of you being told of his death in October 2009, does it?

    Ambassador Osborne was emergency medivacced out of Mongolia to Hong Kong with severe respiratory failure in late March/early April 2008 (seven months prior to Peter's departure).

    What has the cost got to do with anything, let alone you bringing up the "aid" furphy? The cost was covered by insurance, not the British taxpayer.

    And is your meeting with him in Shanghai in the winter of 2007 relevant?

    The British Embassy has connections with the mining industry and their own government's Trade and Investment body? There has to be something sinister about that, eh? Laughable.

    The ambassador's wife promptly resigned from Rio when the ambassador was repatriated out. There is a public announcement of her resignation dated 12th April 2008. Later, she came back with her sister for a few weeks to pack their belongings, as the Ambassador was hospitalized and told by medicos he could never travel to altitude again and had to take early retirement.

    Neither ever returned to Mongolia, let alone her being here working for Rio in Mongolia a year later in 2009 as you state. A link to the World Bank document you cite would be easy to post?

    An un-named former ASIO operative is your sole source for a file on a British diplomat that you never sighted and he only claimed he saw? Give me a break!! It sounds to me like you were huddled with a former junior Australian diplomat late at night in a Mongolian bar self-aggrandizing and trying to outdo each other with tales of high level international intrigue.

    Much the same as you sound four years later.

    Your shady innuendos against three fine UK diplomats who did a fine job while they were here are nothing short of despicable.

    And as for your usual habit of making sweeping statements: Please point out to me exactly where my information is "often incorrect". It sounds like you should be able to severely embarrass me with multiple examples.

    This blog certainly has strayed from being an informative investment forum about Mongolia. I apologize to all for being a part of that and indulging in this type of exchange. But dulleyefarmer's hijacking of the blog for his outlandish, scandalous, inaccurate and hurtful rumor mongering just could not be let stand unchallenged, in my view.

    Enough is enough.
    Dec 27 06:06 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    Dulleyefarmers latest conspiracy theory regarding Peter O'Brien (above) and his inaccurate portrayal of the former British Ambassador and his wife are just plain disgusting.

    Peter had transferred out of Mongolia for some time and was well established back in the UK before he tragically committed suicide for deeply personal reasons. He was a good man and not deserving of this type of slur being applied to his life and work.

    For anyone to make allusions such as Dulleyefarmer is doing ("mysterious death "; " very serious rumors as to his demise") is not only wrongly portraying Peter and his career, but are guilty of slurring a man in death.

    Is there yet another conspiracy theory that this guy is alluding to? Why inverted commas around "died"? Is he trying to allude to something along the lines of murder or assassination? Really? Or is it just simple character assassination?

    "I would like to reopen the case" indeed. There never was a case, except in dulleyefarmer's ailing mind. If it wasn't such a serious set of innuendos his approach would be laughable for its pomposity.

    When Ambassador Osborne and his wife were posted here, she was not employed by anyone. After some time in country she was employed locally by Rio's then-exploration office, before the Oyu Tolgoi deal between Rio and Ivanhoe. She was not in an executive position in the normal sense of the word. When the ambassador had to retire early due to ill-health, she left as well. There may have been a week or two difference, as she had to come back and pack as he was unable to travel from his sick bed.

    It is all as simple and as innocent as that. In Peter's case it was as tragic, simple and as sad as that.

    One has to wonder why he maintains this constant stream of outrageous anti- Rio, anti-british, anti-diplomatic, anti-western rubbish. Let alone the other untruths he has spun about some Mongolians.

    Jon - congratulations on a good, accurate and sympathetic portrayal of the situation regarding the SGS employees. You have also alluded to the sterling job that the US Mission here has been doing in difficult circumstances. It has shone an honest light on dulleyefarmer's previous innuendos against those diplomats and their efforts. I know that there is scarcely a day goes by that justice for their citizens is not pursued. You quoted a paragraph from their investment guide which clearly portrays their frustration of these processes.

    Perhaps you are not aware, but this practice has been going on for years, with other examples of ex-pats being detained in country prior to the high profile recent cases this thread and your article mentions.

    I know of at least four cases in the years 2003-2012 where western businessmen who had disputes with their Mongolian partners were detained for periods well over 12 months by this method. The civil dispute is converted to a criminal matter by the Mongolian partner and thus as a material witness to a (concocted) criminal case is not allowed to leave the country. Of course this needs the tacit co-operation of the authorities as these issues are blatantly not criminal and the subsequent criminal investigation is deliberately delayed for a long time.

    Canadians, British and American businessmen have spent desperate years in Mongolia under this benign method of detention. Some people missed their close relative's funerals, children's weddings and a goodly portion of their homelife. There seems to be no mercy as you have portrayed in our Filipino and American friends' cases.

    They all ended with no material actions against the detained persons, and they could eventually leave the country. Some have come back and worked on here.

    One good sign to have come out of the Bradley matter is that it was solved in a month, unlike all previous cases you have written about and I have mentioned above. Either the New Zealand diplomats have more stroke than the US or Philippines, or the Mongolian government is starting to realize what damage these practices do to the reputation of their country.

    Finally, despite dulleyefarmer's sweeping assertion that Standard Bank have lost their money, there is still an arbitration case to be heard in the UK and the defendants are not just private Mongolian companies, but also government-owned entities. SB's case is strong and I would not discount either a judgment against the Mongolian parties which would be internationally binding and embarrassing enough for them to pay, or a settlement being reached beforehand.
    Dec 25 10:25 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    Both are still in country, barred from leaving, along with Justin.
    Dec 24 09:24 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    Chris Bradley from Standard Bank was allowed to leave the country last Thursday.
    Dec 23 12:33 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    Kapla is still in country, under a travel ban, as are two other more junior foreign SGS management. Expect progress on that matter very soon.
    Dec 3 02:22 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Mongolia Weekly Update [View instapost]
    Standard Bank's role in the whole Just/Erdenet/Savings Bank deal is being investigated by the government. As a part of this, one of their executives has been named as a suspect and is not allowed to leave Mongolia.
    Dec 1 07:02 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Will New SouthGobi Troubles Wreak Havoc On Turquoise Hill? [View article]
    The news article quoted from the Mongolian newspaper has raised a few chuckles amongst ex-pat circles in Ulaanbaatar.
    The mistranslations/misspe... of the two executives names are quite laughable, but contain enough clues to identify who is really meant.
    Contrary to the emotive "fled the country" both have been absent for some time. And entering their (assumed) real names into the Interpol on-line database receives a negative response. In fact Mongolia has no requests for arrests current on that database.
    As noted by others above, the amount of money supposedly laundered is improbably huge. It maybe a coincidence but it is approximately what has been spent on the construction of Oyu Tolgoi to date. But it is more likely a reflection of the Mongolian press to sometimes engage in hyperbole, either intentionally, naively or carelessly.
    Any reputable international news agency picking up this story would be well advised to do some basic fact checking and to apply normal journalistic standards.
    Nonetheless, as you and others seem to be saying, at times fact can be stranger than fiction.
    Your comment relayed in your subsequent reply above, concerning government officials wanting a slowdown in gdp growth matches with similar comments heard here first hand. Such as wanting the mineral sector to downsize. Speculating, but these are probably just bravura statements covering pride and ego in the face of dramatically declining fdi and budgetary receipts.
    Public statements by the Government and the President make no such policy statements. As do neither of the two major political parties policy platforms. Thus the comments we are hearing should not be interpreted as official Mongolian programs. Official policies still welcome and encourage growth and investment. The execution of those policies is currently sadly lacking the positive investment, statutory and legal frameworks necessary to achieve their aims.
    The latest draft of the new minerals law is a case in point, as is the SEFIL and any number of other actions during 2012.
    Keep up the good work and compliments of the season.
    Dec 23 06:21 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment