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"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London



How Asia's Oil Hub Is Going Green www.bloomberg.com

Singapore plans to develop solar power and energy-storage technologies as the oil-trading hub of Asia pushes to generate more of its power from renewable sources.

The city-state is testing floating power projects in its reservoirs, a technology that could help solar meet as much as a quarter of electricity demand by 2025, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said Monday in a speech opening Singapore International Energy Week. The government also reached agreements for energy storage and micro-grid projects, Sim Ann, senior minister of state for trade and ministry, said at the event.

To reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, Singapore is trying to overcome natural limitations on hydropower and wind and a lack of available land for solar panels. While the city-state is a small emitter of carbon, it will be one of the first to feel the effects of climate change, Teo warned.

“We are one of the small island states, the average height above sea level is not a great deal,” Teo said. “If the sea levels rise, we have to take it very seriously, or all of us will have to take swimming very seriously.”

Singapore, which has long been one of the world’s largest oil refining and trading hubs, has shifted its electricity mix over the past century from coal to oil to natural gas, which now generates about 95 percent of Singapore’s 8 gigawatts of power. Solar capacity has grown to a peak of 140 megawatts from about 0.4 megawatt in 2008, Sim said.

Floating Panels

The island nation can produce a peak of 2 gigawatts from solar by 2025, Teo said, citing a study by the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore. Floating solar can help by creating extra surface space for photo-voltaic panels, Teo said. Tests done at Tengeh Reservoir have shown floating panels to be more efficient than rooftop, he said, adding that the country will also explore vertical solar panels on the sides of skyscrapers.

Singapore is pushing forward with plans to store intermittent solar energy, awarding deals to groups led by Red Dot Power and CW Group to install 4.4 megawatt-hours of storage solutions in two substation locations connected to the grid, Sim said. Singapore’s Energy Market Authority will also make it easier for consumers to generate solar power for themselves and to sell excess energy back to the grid, she said.

Singapore’s SP Group signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Institute of Technology to develop the country’s first urban micro-grid at the institute’s future campus in Punggol.



Aspire Mining to lift cash to advance Mongolian assets www.proactiveinvestors.com.au

The halt will remain in place until Wednesday 1st November 2017. 

Aspire Mining Ltd (ASX:AKM) remains focused on its coal assets in Mongolia, and advancing key infrastructure including railway.

Aspire has this morning been granted a trading halt by the ASX, pending details of a capital raising.

The halt will remain in place until the opening of trade on Wednesday 1st November 2017, or earlier if an announcement is made to the market.



Everyone's a Metals Bull as the Global Economic Engine Fires Up www.bloomberg.com

Global growth is on a tear, and that can only be positive for metals prices.

That’s the message coming from the industry ahead of LME Week. For the first time in years, optimism is widespread among traders, smelters, miners and brokers gathering in London, buoyed by a combination of strong growth across the world’s key demand centers, supply curbs in China and a return of investor interest.

"The global economy looks much better than it has done probably since the crisis, maybe before that," said Saad Rahim, chief economist at Trafigura Group Pte, the second-largest metals trader. "I’m pretty bullish."

The upbeat mood shows how much has changed in two years, when the commodities collapse brought the titans of mining to their knees. In September 2015, Glencore Plc was forced to raise money when its stock was cratering, an effort to sooth investors frightened by a staggering debt load. Now, the mining giant has regained its swagger, reaping profits and inking deals worth billions for natural resource assets around the world.

Industrial metals have rallied sharply since the middle of the year. Copper is approaching $7,000 a metric ton, zinc topped a decade high and aluminum has jumped almost 30 percent this year. With that backdrop, macro hedge funds -- once major players on the London Metal Exchange -- are beginning to look again at metals markets, according to brokers.

Metals Demand

“Investor appetite has been increasing for metals since late summer," said Sid Tipples, co-head of metals at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Volumes on the LME have picked up, hitting the highest level since 2015 in September. Matthew Chamberlain, chief executive of the exchange, suggested there’s further room for growth.

"Before the funds are actually in the markets, they’re working out the best entry strategy and getting ready, and that certainly seems to be the mood music in the market," he said in an interview.

For the first time in years, the outlook for global metals demand doesn’t hinge solely on China. Manufacturing in the euro-area is growing at its fastest pace since at least 2014. This month, the International Monetary Fund upgraded its growth outlook for the U.S., the euro area, Japan and China and said the global economy’s performing at its best pace in the last 10 years.

Metals demand in Europe is picking up on the back of rising demand from the construction and automotive sectors. Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, raised the premium it charges to deliver metal to European customers for the first time in four years. Forecasters including Bank of China International see further gains for base metals in a period of synchronized global growth.

“The economic outlook is stronger than it has been for a while across the major economies with more consistent growth in Europe, the U.S. and China,” said Tipples at JPMorgan.

While strong global demand is underpinning the optimism, supply issues are also creating pockets of tightness. Glencore’s output cuts helped fuel the zinc rally and Chinese capacity cutbacks have spurred higher aluminum prices.

The supply issues are being felt in corners of the physical metals industry that are largely inaccessible to financial speculators.

For example, the price of alumina, used to make aluminum, has jumped 56 percent since August, according to data from consultancy CRU Group, amid Chinese production cuts that fueled a wave of buying by aluminum smelters.

Lead ore treatment charges, which miners pay smelters to convert the ore to metal, are moving negative. Cargoes of lead concentrates have changed hands at treatment charges of minus $40 a metric ton, traders said, an unusual situation that implies traders are paying more for lead ore than the value of the metal.

On the LME, overall inventories are being drawn down. Stocks of metal in the exchange’s warehousing system have dropped to the lowest since 2008.

"We’ve seen inventory draws across the board on the LME, and the underlying demand picture would suggest those draws are real," said Ingrid Sternby, senior research analyst at Blenheim Capital Management LLP, a commodities hedge fund in London. "The market now is at a point where fundamentals are playing a more important role."

Still, global growth can’t continue at a fast pace forever, said Mark Hansen, chief executive of mid-sized metals trader Concord Resources Ltd.

"I’m concerned we have got into this zone where people think everything is just going to get better and better," he said. "China has just done its Party Congress. We’ve probably reached peak credit creation for this cycle in China."

He warned that miners could respond to the recent rally by adding new production, especially in zinc where prices are trading far above the cost of production.

"Two years ago, things were pretty dreadful for the mining industry. Things are pretty good now. The supply discipline that kicked this rally off can dissipate in the next six to 12 months," he said.



Oil markets firm on expected extension of output cuts www.reuters.com

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil markets were firm on Monday, with Brent crude opening above $60 per barrel on expectations an OPEC-led production cut due to expire next March would be extended.

Brent crude oil futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $60.53 per barrel at 0054 GMT, up 9 cents or 0.15 percent from their last settlement.

That’s still close to their highest level since July 2015 and up more than 36 percent since their 2017 lows last June.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were up by 13 cents, or 0.24 percent, at $54.03 a barrel.

“With strong compliance to OPEC’s production curbs already supporting prices, comments from the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince that suggested the production cut agreement should be extended added to gains,” ANZ bank said on Monday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) plus Russia and nine other producers have agreed to hold back about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to get rid of a supply glut. The pact runs to March 2018, but Saudi Arabia and Russia, who are leading the effort, have both voiced their support to extend the agreement.

OPEC is scheduled to meet officially at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Nov. 30.

While OPEC and its partners are withholding supply, U.S. production C-OUT-T-EIA has risen almost 13 percent since mid-2016. As a result WTI is trading at a steep discount of around $6.50 per barrel against Brent CL-LCO1=R, which has made U.S. crude exports to the world attractive.

Confidence in the oil market is evident in the way financial traders have positioned themselves.

Hedge funds and other money managers raised their bullish wagers on U.S. crude futures and options in the week to October 24, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.

The speculator group raised its combined futures and options position in New York and London by 15,041 contracts to 280,634 during the period.



China imported record iron ore in September as steel output curbs start to bite www.mining.com

The amount of iron ore shipped to China surpassed 100 million tonnes for the first time in September.

According to Hellenic Shipping News, both Australia and South Africa exported record amounts – 65.1MT and 5.09MT – while Brazil shipped its third highest level at 21.7MT.

Australia is China's largest iron ore importer followed by Brazil and South Africa. The three combined for 91.98MT in September, close to 13MT higher than August, reads a table of Chinese customs data, below. In total Chinese imports of Fe were 102.8MT, which is a 16% increase from August. The last record of 98.3MT was set in December 2015, reports Hellenic Shipping News.

Earlier this month Chinese iron ore futures jumped more than 5%, due to a rally in steel prices, as China's steel mills ramp up production in expectation of a major output cut. Chinese steel output in September rose 5.3% from the year before to 71.8m tonnes; not far off the record 73.2m tonnes produced in August.

But mills in northern Chinese cities including top steel-producing Tangshan have been ordered to slash production due to a government mandate to fight pollution caused by industrial plants. As much as 30 million tonnes could be reduced between October and March.

According to London-based consultants CRU, China is on track to cut 240m tonnes of annual capacity by 2020 from its peak in 2015,

The reality of the cuts (mills have begun reducing rates) are beginning to be reflected in the iron ore price. On Friday the spot price fell for the third straight session, in parallel with reductions in the price of Chinese futures. Via Business Insider Australia, Metal Bulletin reports the steelmaking ingredient (benchmark 62% fines) slid to a new two-week low of $60.08 a tonne Friday, extending its price decline from mid-August to 25%.



State budget amendment approved www.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ At a plenary meeting of the Parliamentary Session on October 26, parliamentarians approved an amendment to the Law on State Budget 2017.

During the consideration, MP G.Temuulen said, “A certain amount of money was budgeted to add to the loan sources of fund to develop small and medium-sized enterprises. But it was taken out from the amendment. Instead, single-benefit grant worth MNT 300,000 to state servants each was decided to give. If the money for SMEs fund was remained, it would have been better. To ensure country’s interest, disbursement of state budget’s money must target on projects that are capable to gain. Resolving social issues of government workers by this way is absolutely wrong. The country will not prosper without any supports for SMEs.”

In response, Finance Minister Ch. Khurelbaatar explained, “In line of the financial arrangement with IMF, it was agreed to not raise wage over next years. That’s why the one-time grant is to be issued. Wages of the government workers have not been increased since 2014, but inflation is on the rise.”



Mongolia and Cuba to Increase Cooperation in Research Areas www.plenglish.com

Ulan Bator, Oct 26 (Prensa Latina) Mongolia and Cuba are seeking today to increase cooperation in research areas and the pharmaceutical industry, coupled with the application of Cuban medical treatments to patients in this Asian country.

This was confirmed during an exchange between the Cuban ambassador in that nation, Raul Delgado, and Foreign Minister D. Tsogtbaatar, when they evaluated the current state of diplomatic relations.

Cuba cooperates with Mongolia in supplying medicines and pharmaceutical preparations to treat hepatitis and diabetes, produced by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

On the other hand, Ulan Bator offered the use of biopreparates to eliminate field mice.

The Mongolian Foreign Minister expressed his satisfaction to extend the friendly relations between both countries.



Capital Bank & Soyombo Insurance Announce a Milost Financing market.businessinsider.com

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, Oct. 26, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Capital Bank of Mongolia Ltd and Soyombo Insurance Ltd, their sister company, are pleased to announce that they have executed a $255 million financing term sheet with Milost Global Inc (the "Investor"). The financing is expected to be comprised of $55 million in equity capital and $200 million in debt. Milost Global Inc (the “investor”). Through this transaction, Capital Bank, Soyombo Insurance, Capital Brokerage and Capital Asset Management have agreed that they will be controlled by Milost Bank Corporation, whereas Milost Bank Corporation will acquire a controlling interest in all four companies. Milost Bank Corporation, through its African subsidiary Milost Bank Africa Limited is also conducting a due diligence of a Nigeria bank that has over 250 branch operations, with a purpose of acquiring full control.

The Chairman of Capital Bank of Mongolia and Soyombo Insurance Ltd, A. Ariunbold, stated, “We are delighted that Milost Global Inc has agreed to finance Capital Bank and Soyombo Insurance Ltd, strengthening and growing our position as a nationwide bank and insurance company in Mongolia. We see this as an exciting opportunity for both companies, our shareholders, and our respective teams of bankers.” 

The deputy CEO of Capital bank Mr. B.Ganbat, stated, "This transaction increases the funding diversification and strengthens the liquidity profile of Capital Bank. We are excited about the opportunities that will be created from this financing and look forward to the combined success going forward.”

The Senior Partner & President of Milost Global Asia, Dr. Chin Yew Seah, stated, “It is my great pleasure to have a chance to be able to invest and work with the management team of the Bank. The Capital Bank is part of the Bishrelt Group which itself is a major conglomerate in Mongolia but with the strengthening of banking regulations in Mongolia, there is a need to expand the capital base to enable the Bank grow. The Chairman and I share the same vision, which is to enable the bank to seek its own direction to capitalise on the opportunities that exist in Mongolia today. This comes at a time when Mongolia itself is recovering from a recession and has achieved positive GDP growth in 2016 and more robust growth in 2017. Capital Bank has been the first commercial bank in Mongolia and one of the few banks that have adapted the early use of technology in its banking system and is poised to take advantage of its unique position by partnering with Milost in order to achieve rapid growth.”

Mandla J. Gwadiso, Chairman of Milost Bank Corporation, also stated, “For Milost Bank Corporation, this is a first step towards building a good base in Mongolia. Milost Bank Corporation continues to look for well-managed banks and leading financial services companies of the calibre of Capital Bank and Somboyo Insurance. We look forward to a fruitful and yet bilateral relationship with A. Ariunbold and his teams.”

Bernard B. Yaw, Senior Partner and COO of Milost Global Inc, also had this to say, “In response to the deficiencies in financial regulation with the after-effect of the financial crisis of 2007–08, Basel III was introduced globally to attempt to strengthen bank capital requirements by increasing bank liquidity and decreasing bank leverage. A lot of banks especially in the emerging countries are struggling to meet the Basel III requirements. Those that can find ways to recapitalize and strengthen their Tier I capital requirement will be winners and will leapfrog over those who are lagging. This gap is definitely opening investment opportunities to Milost Bank Corporation to acquire and partner with these well run but undercapitalized banks in many emerging countries.”



Mongolian government moves forward with telco share purchase from KT www.telegeography.com

The Mongolian Cabinet yesterday (25 October) furthered its plans to purchase an additional 40% stake in Telecom Mongolia (Mongolia Telecom Company) from KT Corp of South Korea, the Montsame news agency reports. The sale plan, agreed on a preliminary basis in July, involves the Korean firm offloading its entire 40% interest for USD2.55 million to the government, which already owns 54.67% of the telco. KT acquired its Telecom Mongolia stake in 1995 for USD4.5 million.

The Cabinet assigned the Finance Minister and heads of corresponding agencies to include USD2.55 million for purchasing 10,348,111 shares from KT Corp in the 2018 budget, whilst negotiations on payment terms will be held in accordance with the two parties’ memorandum of mutual understanding. The Cabinet also authorised that, post-purchase, ‘necessary measures’ will be taken to increase efficiency, enhance management, introduce advanced technologies and co-ordinate policy at Telecom Mongolia.



Beyond Genghis Khan: how looting threatens to erase Mongolia's history www.theguardian.com

It’s a sunny, late summer day in northern Mongolia’s Darkhad Basin – a large glacial lake basin nestled against the country’s Russian border. To the south stretch the grasslands of the Eastern Eurasian Steppe; to the north, the Siberian boreal forest. We stand – almost precisely – at the place they meet, at the forest’s edge overlooking a large, grassy valley the administrative district of Ulaan Uul. We’ve come to this site, known locally as Khorigiin Am, in response to reports from local herders of bones and artifacts lying on the ground surface. What we find is shocking –scraps of silk, hastily scattered pieces of wooden artifacts – and bone, human bone, everywhere.

My companion, Dr J Bayarsaikhan, finishes a tally of the looted burial craters that dot the hillside. “More than forty,” he tells me, surveying the scene in front of us with dismay. We work through the evening to salvage what we can from the dozens of looted burial mounds, which from the fragmented artifacts we find, appear to date to the time of the Great Mongol Empire – around 800 years ago.

Mongolia’s cold, dry climate can sometimes result in incredible archaeological discoveries, preserving organic materials like ancient clothing and weaponry that might otherwise have disintegrated. However, looting makes short work of these rare finds. “[Organic artifacts] are more unstable than some other kinds of artifacts, like stone or metal” says Sandra Vanderwarf, a cultural heritage preservation fellow at the American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS), who works at the National Museum of Mongolia.

When materials such as skin, sinew, or seeds are recovered from archaeological sites, researchers get a rare glimpse of information like how the object was made, what kinds of animals and plants were used to produce it, or where these animals and plants came from. Over time, these little bits of rare archaeological data come together to help us understand processes like migration, globalisation, and human responses to climate change – forces that are rapidly shaping our modern world.

Looters sell or destroy these rare objects, exposing whatever may be left to the elements, where they quickly disintegrate through exposure to weather, sun, animals, and people. It’s difficult to say how long the scraps of decorated silk or finely incised bone and bark we recover may have already sat at the surface, decomposing – but the looting appears to have been recent. Nonetheless, much has already been lost.

Sadly, the story of our day at Khorigiin Am is far from unique. As Mongolia struggles its way through a shocking and prolonged economic downturn, opportunistic looters are destroying the nation’s culture heritage, in search of gold or other attractive artifacts. Although looting has always taken place to some degree, artifacts can now be sold in the capital of Ulaanbaatar, or increasingly – with the advent of social media – to buyers on Facebook. From there, many of these artifacts will be sent to dealers and collectors overseas, without the general public or even most Mongolian scholars learning of their existence.

As one of the world’s largest countries by geographic area, but smallest by population density, the logistical challenges of protecting archaeological sites or enforcing punishment against looters in Mongolia are overwhelming. “Because to date there have been no monitoring efforts, we can’t say just how bad it has become” says Dr Julia Clark, an archaeologist and the Cultural Heritage Director at ACMS. Clark has also noticed that archaeological research projects can actually encourage and guide the efforts of looters, who might otherwise have left sites undisturbed. “Unfortunately,” she says, “people sometimes think that we’re stealing gold and treasure, and want to get some for themselves.” With few resources to allocate towards anti-looting efforts, anonymity is the only line of defence for many of the nation’s archaeological sites.

This looting has serious consequences for Mongolia, and for the rest of the world. Many of us outside of Mongolia know little about the country or its history, beyond what we glean from dramatised or fictional depictions in popular culture, like Netflix’s popular (if critically maligned) Marco Polo series. As a result, the nation’s contributions to global cultural heritage have gone largely underappreciated. This problem is compounded by the scarcity of historical documents produced by ancient nomadic peoples – meaning that history was often written by outsiders, who tended to emphasise military brutality rather than highlight cultural achievements. With its rich material record of the past, archaeology provides a complementary, alternative lens into the people, animals, and history behind the great Khans and the peoples that came before them.

“To most [foreign] people,” says Dr Bryan Miller, a postdoctoral research fellow at Oxford University specialising in Mongolian and Chinese history, “Mongolia is Genghis Khan. But he’s seen as this kind of spark. He didn’t just come out of nowhere.” To understand the full story behind the Mongol Empire and appreciate its legacy for the modern world, Miller says, we need to protect and study the region’s history (and prehistory). 

The situation, though bleak, is far from hopeless. In a televised speech on the floor of the Ikh Khural (National Assembly), representative G Munkhtsetseg acknowledged the struggle faced by those working to protect cultural heritage in Mongolia, and expressed a desire to support and listen to their voices going forward. For Mongolia’s beleaguered cultural heritage professionals, the words were a welcome change. In recent years, Mongolia has also managed to pass legislation mandating archaeological survey for mining projects, and for the first time, instituting harsh penalties (including prison time) for those convicted of looting or trafficking in antiquities – resulting in some important victories by local law enforcement.

Through the education and public outreach efforts of archaeologists at the National Museum and the country’s other major archaeological research institutions (including the National University and the Cultural Resource Management Division at the Institute of Archaeology/Mongolian Academy of Sciences), a new generation of students and herders are learning the importance of archaeology and its relevance to their history and heritage. In many areas, local people have become dedicated stewards of the monuments and sites in the area they live. Clark, Bayarsaikhan, and their colleagues are working to develop programs which help quantify and monitor looting, as well as educate others about the goals of archaeology and the damage caused by looting.

Cultural heritage protection is not just Mongolia’s problem. As the United States’ recent withdrawal from the international UNESCO agreement demonstrates, it is instead an urgent, global issue – one that is unlikely to recede in coming years. For archaeology to stay relevant, researchers and authorities alike must demonstrate its value in the public eye – even in times of economic crisis and limited political support. Doing that means teaching the public, particularly younger generations, that studying and protecting the past is the only way to understand our future. “It’s a fight that we are never going to stop fighting,” says Miller. “But at least we have to try.”