1 CONSTRUCTION OF TAVANTOLGOI-GASHUUNSUKHAIT ROAD TO BE INTENSIFIED WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      2 OVER 30 MEASURES PLANNED FOR REDUCTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      3 MONGOLIA SAYS IT EARNS OVER 169 MLN USD FROM COAL EXPORTS TO CHINA IN JAN WWW.HELLENICSHIPPINGNEWS.COM  PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      4 RUSSIA’S GAZPROM TO START CHINA GAS PIPELINE BY DECEMBER 1 WWW.RT.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      5 MONGOLIA'S FOREIGN TRADE UP 41.6 PCT IN JAN. WWW.XINHUANET.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      6 EIGHT COMPANIES ANNOUNCE TO DISBURSE DIVIDENDS SO FAR WWW.ZGM.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      7 MONGOLIA'S PROSTITUTION ZONES, WHERE WOMEN TRADE SEX FOR FUEL IN SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURES WWW.TELEGRAPH.CO.UK PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      8 MONGOLIA TO SUSPEND KFC OUTLETS FOR INQUIRY AFTER FOOD POISONING REPORTS WWW.CNBC.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      9 MIAT TO FLY BETWEEN ULAANBAATAR AND GUANGZHOU WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      10 NEW BOOK ABOUT MONGOL EMPIRE’S IMPACT ON ISLAM WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      УУХҮЯ: II САРЫН БАЙДЛААР НИЙТ НУТАГ ДЭВСГЭРИЙН 5.6 ХУВЬД АШИГТ МАЛТМАЛЫН ЛИЦЕНЗ ОЛГОСОН WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     300 ОРТОЙ ТӨРӨХ ЭМНЭЛГИЙН БАРИЛГЫН АЖИЛ 80%-Д ХҮРЧ ГУРАВДУГААР САРЫН 1-НЭЭС ДУЛААНД ХОЛБОГДОХООР БОЛЖЭЭ WWW.IKON.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     II/19-НИЙ ДОТОР 24 ХК НОГДОЛ АШИГ ОЛГОХТОЙ ХОЛБООТОЙ ШИЙДВЭРЭЭ ГАРГАЖ , СЗХ-НД ХҮРГҮҮЛСЭН БАЙНА WWWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     ӨНГӨРСӨН САРД 23.9 МЯНГАН ЖУУЛЧИН ХҮЛЭЭН АВЧЭЭ WWW.EAGLE.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     ЭРЧИМ ХҮЧНИЙ ИМПОРТ БУУРЧЭЭ WWW.EAGLE.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     ТАТВАР ТӨЛДӨГ 191 МЯНГАН ААН-Н 95.9 ХУВЬ НЬ БИЧИЛ БИЗНЕС ЭРХЭЛДЭГ WWW.EAGLE.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     НИЙТ НУТГИЙН 70 ОРЧИМ ХУВЬ НЬ ЦАСТАЙ БАЙНА WWW.MONTSAME.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     ХАНБОГД-ОЮУТОЛГОЙГ ХОЛБОСОН ЗАМЫН НЭЭЛТ БОЛЛОО WWW.GOGO.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     ЗГҮЦ-ЫН АНХДАГЧ ЗАХ ЗЭЭЛИЙН АРИЛЖАА МХБ-ИЙН ҮЙЛ АЖИЛЛАГААНЫ ОРЛОГО БУУРЧЭЭ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/19     “TEMASEK HOLDINGS” КОМПАНИ “TRQ” ДЭХ ЭЗЭМШЛИЙН ХУВИА 28 ХУВИАР БУУРУУЛАВ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/19    

Events

Name organizer Where
“Doing business with Mongolia”, “UK Investors show” бизнес хөтөлбөр March 27-April 02. 2019 ЛОНДОН ХОТ, ИХ БРИТАНИ Mongolian Business Database London UK
SYMPOSIUM ON GLOBAL MARKETS Nationalism and Protectionism: The United States in the International Arena June 17-18, 2019 The Center for American and International Law Plano, Texas, USA The Center for American and International Law (CAILAW) Plano Texas June 17-18 2019
"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London

NEWS

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Burning Coal for Survival in the World’s Coldest Capital www.nytimes.com

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — Mongolians have long relied on folklore to explain how miserably cold their winters are.

During the first of nine phases of winter — each composed of nine days, starting on Dec. 22 — it is said that vodka made from milk freezes. During the third set of nine days, when temperatures can hit minus 40 degrees in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, the tail of a 3-year-old ox is said to fall off. Around the sixth set of nine days, which falls in the middle of February, roads are expected to re-emerge from underneath the ice and snow.

But for the nearly 1.5 million residents of the capital, Ulan Bator, the misery of winter is now defined almost singularly by the smoke rising out of the city’s chimneys. Since 2016, in addition to being the world’s coldest capital city, it has also had the distinction of being the one with the highest recorded levels of air pollution, surpassing notoriously polluted megacities like Beijing and New Delhi.

According to local government figures, around 80 percent of Ulan Bator’s air pollution is produced by just over half the population, living in the so-called ger districts in the north of the city, named for the traditional nomadic dwelling central to Mongolians’ herding lifestyle.

The ger, or yurt, is a circular tent comprising a single room, with a family’s bedding and furniture arrayed around the device that makes its simple architecture survivable in such a harsh climate: a stove. The ger can be packed onto a truck and set up within a few hours.

In recent years, the predominantly lower- to middle-income migrant workers who reside in these unplanned districts have been burning over a million tons of raw coal per year.
With little work available in Mongolia’s smaller cities, hundreds of thousands have left behind the nomadic herding lifestyle in the hope of finding opportunities in the mineral boomtown that Ulan Bator has become. And they have settled in the ger districts, which have sprung up because of a lack of clarity about land ownership.

During the Communist era, land belonged to the state, but starting in 1991, land was defined as belonging to the citizens of Mongolia, leading to confusion as newcomers to the city claimed land and demanded ownership of it.

In recent years, the predominantly lower- to middle-income migrant workers who reside in these unplanned districts have been burning over a million tons of raw coal per year. The heaviest use is during the winter when staying warm is a matter of survival as temperatures remain well below freezing for weeks at a time. Those who can’t afford coal often burn garbage, adding plastics and other pollutants into the soupy mix.

As families huddle indoors, burning coal around the clock, sections of the city see their levels of fine particulate matter, a pollutant, soar into the thousands. On Jan. 30, one station in Ulan Bator recorded a reading of 3,320 micrograms per cubic meter — 133 times what the World Health Organization considers safe, and more than six times what it considers hazardous.

In January, Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh announced that the transportation and use of raw coal in Ulan Bator would be banned starting in April 2019 as part of an effort to improve the city’s air quality.

Meantime, the government has been trying with its limited resources to put a dent in the problem. Subsidies have been offered to families for stoves that produce less pollution, and since January 2017, electricity in many of the city’s highest-polluting districts was made free at night, when pollution levels are at their most severe.

But the cost of electric heaters that can adequately heat a thinly insulated home in the cold of winter is far out of reach for many in the ger districts. Nonsubsidized electricity is more expensive than coal, and far less plentiful.

The planned ban on coal has raised eyebrows among miners and sellers who extract and transport truckloads of the freshly extracted fuel from the city’s Nalaikh area, which provides 75 percent of the coal burned in the ger districts.

Many are skeptical that Mongolia’s government will be able to enforce the ban.

An entire flatbed of a small truck — weighting 1.3 ton — is enough to last a single family roughly one month during the coldest four months of winter.
“There are thousands of families who mine, sell and burn coal in order to live,” added Mr. Unurkhaan, who had barely given his name before he was off to deliver to a client’s home his 1.3-ton load of coal, which at $65 to $75, depending on the quality of coal, lasts a family about one month, according to official estimates.

But residents agree that something has to be done, particularly to protect the youngest and the elderly, who are most at risk because of the pollution.

Already, the pediatric wards of hospitals have banks of nebulizers to treat the large variety of respiratory infections and viruses that become both chronic and dangerous during the winter months.

Because of the pollution, “a simple flu becomes a pneumonia or bronchitis very easily,” said Dr. Soyol-Erdene Jadambaa, an immunologist at the Batchingun allergy and immunology children’s hospital, a private clinic. “It requires long-term treatment.”

Pneumonia killed up to 435 children under the age of 5 in Ulan Bator in 2015, according to Unicef.

“We need a completely new city,” said Batmend Shirgal, who was raised in Ulan Bator and is now an engineer at one of the city’s power plants, as his 2-year-old daughter helped her younger brother hold a nebulizer to his small face at the Seven Dwarfs Pediatric Clinic near Ulan Bator’s airport.

The family had lived year-round in a planned part of the city with municipal heating until last year, when both children suffered severe cases of pneumonia and were hospitalized. This winter, the family decamped to Nalaikh, 24 miles outside the city, where the air is cleaner despite the area’s being the primary source of Ulan Bator’s coal.

“If you take coal out of the ger, people will burn anything,” Mr. Shirgal said. “The tires on their cars, their neighbors’ fences. It’s hard to survive in minus 30 degrees.”

Munkhchimeg Davaasharav contributed reporting.

Produced by Gray Beltran, Meghan Petersen and Mikko Takkunen. Map by Baden Copeland.

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Rosneft to supply discount fuel to Mongolia www.news.mn

According to the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industries, gross output of the industry has reached to MNT 2 trillion in two months of 2018; increased by MNT 255 billion from same time in previous year.

The Ministry plans to explore a total of 8.1 million of barrel crude oil in 2018 and generate MNT 223.4 billion in budget revenue. As of 9 March, the Ministry explored 1.31 million of crude oil. Mongolia still does not have any refining capacity - its first refinery is under construction; as a result the country is dependent on Russia for fuel imports. A fairly serious situation has developed: the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority has reported that the country has petrol and diesel reserves for 44 days. Russia's Rosneft has agreed to discount fuel supply to Mongolia from June.

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Mongolia makes proposal for silk road redevelopment www.ubinfo.mn

Minister of Froeign Affairs Tsogtbaatar Damdin and Member of the Parliament Enkhbayar Jadamba are attending the first international conference of the silk road support group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Under the theme "the Role of Parliamentarians in Boosting Economic Cooperation and Cultural Ties along the Silk Road", the conferece took place on March 13-14. Mr Tsogtbaatar delivered a speech at the plenary session which was held on the first day. In his speech, he highlighted the historical role of the Mongol Empire in the silk road development and noted that Mongolia supports latest initiatives designed for redevelopment of the silk road, especially in line with the China’s Belt and Road initiative. “Initiatives for redevelopment of the silk road have a great significance not only for the development of trade and economy, but also for development of cultural, humanitarian and person-to-person relations,” he added. Moreover, Mr. Tsogtbaatar made a proposal to launch scholarship for ambitious young diplomats who have offered new proposals and initiatives within the frame of the initiatives for the silk road redevelopment. In 2012, Mongolia became a full member of the OSCE. Since then, it has been taking part in its Parliament Assembly which is the main mechanism for inter-parliamentarian talks for its member countries.

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Mongolia to expand cooperation with Qatar www.news.mn

A Mongolian delegation led by Defence Minister N.Enkhbold, has paid an official visit to Qatar at invitation of his counterpart Halid bin Muhammed al Attiyah. In Doha, the minister attended a two-day maritime defence and security expo, DIMDEX 2018, organized by the Qatar Armed Forces. About 180 companies from more than 60 countries took part in the annual event.

During the meeting, the two sides renewed expired agreements and agreed to expand cooperation as well as increase visits between their respective ministries. Mr. N.Enkhbold invited Qatar to partake ‘Khaan Quest’ Mongolian-hosted, combined, joint training exercise designed to strengthen the capabilities of the U.S., Mongolia and other partner nations in international peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, Mongolia's defence minister requested training officers (including Arabic language courses) in Qatar.

Launched in 2008, DIMDEX is considered the Middle East and North Africa's largest event devoted exclusively to maritime security, with a total of USD 32bn in deals being signed at the last five exhibitions.

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Building Ethics into Mongolia’s Business Ethos www.asiafoundation.org

Last week, The Asia Foundation and the Sant Maral Foundation released the eighth biannual survey of private sector perceptions of corruption, revealing a pivotal time in Mongolia’s business environment.

During Mongolia’s transition in the 1990s from a centrally planned to a free market economy, the country underwent the privatization of its government property such as factories, apartments, and even livestock. These changes led people to enthusiastically jump on opportunities to build their own businesses within the new framework of a competitive and open market. These new business opportunities ranged from thousands of people re-selling goods from China to Mongolia and Russia while traveling on trains for weeks, to buying and operating old socialist-era factories and plants.

After nearly two decades, the country’s economy has expanded considerably, and today, Mongolia’s leading businesses have passed through the initial hurdles of learning how to operate in a free market economy. This latest round of the survey shows that businesses are now feeling the tangible effects that corruption is having on their bottom line: 80 percent of the businesses reported “a lot” of corruption in the government, and at least 20 percent of them said that they observe corrupt acts on a monthly or quarterly basis. This growing recognition of corruption and its negative impact on the economy is both a marker of the maturation of the private sector as businesses start to call for improvements in the business environment, as well as an indication that corruption remains one of the major constraints on economic growth in Mongolia.

Although the blame for corruption is mostly placed on the government, respondents in fact acknowledged their own culpability in corruption by not taking proactive measures to combat it. The survey reveals that only 14 percent of the businesses that responded have rules to prevent corruption and only six percent of them had reported corruption, a surprisingly low number given how many reported observing lot of incidents of corruption.

On March 2, The Asia Foundation and the Economic Club of Ulaanbaatar brought together 30 members of the business community to discuss the survey findings, as well as the importance of fairness and ethics in business and how it should help the businesses succeed in the long run and better serve society.

One well-known local business woman who leads an association of construction companies recalled that while many business people in Mongolia operate large successful companies today, they still run them under behaviors learned during the early transition years when the idea of business ethics was largely a foreign concept. This may be why only nine percent of the businesses think that doing business in an ethical way is a part of their corporate social responsibility, according to a study on corporate social responsibility by the Corporate Governance Development Center in Ulaanbaatar.

A CEO of local company “Nuudelchin” or “Nomads” in Mongolian, told the group that he witnesses acts of corruption in his daily life as a business leader. “We encounter cases where a seller cheats a customer not telling that them that a product was made in China and poor quality. This demonstrates that the nature of our businesses, regardless of their size that has short run motivation to make profit,” he said.

Another local businessman attending said that “many of our large companies are split into two groups that support two political parties. Some even serve both major parties at the same time. There are those ‘middle men’ whose businesses exist only on paper yet consistently win government tenders, whereas real business people with skills and equipment are getting hurt and going bankrupt.”

Despite these bleak observations, there is hope. Over the last few years, many business leaders in the country are starting to take the lead in combatting corruption, and the concept of a “business ethic” is starting to emerge. For example, The Business Council of Mongolia (BCM), a local business association established a Business Ethics Working group two years ago and created an anti-bribery e-learning course tool last year (supported by The Asia Foundation’s Strengthening Democratic Participation and Transparency in the Public Sector in Mongolia Project). The tool enables anyone in the business community to log on and complete tests aimed at improving their knowledge about corruption and relevant legislation. Recently, XAC Bank made this online course mandatory for their new employees during their induction sessions. Another BCM member who owns a local electronics retail company responded extremely positively to the anti-corruption training, requiring that his 30-plus managers take part in the training.

As the business community begins to realize the need for change, and public pressure grows, the government is also taking positive steps. On July 1, 2017, Mongolia’s Parliament passed a revision of the Criminal code, introducing legislation that for the first time, makes a legal entity responsible for an act of corruption and abuse of power; any embezzlement from the executives and managers of private companies is now a criminal act.

There is no doubt that corruption presents a big challenge in Mongolia. Yet there is a growing confidence in and hope that ongoing collective efforts such as improving corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, and improving ethics will take Mongolian businesses to the next stage of development.

The survey launch event was an initiative of The Asia Foundation under its Strengthening Democratic Participation and Transparency in the Public Sector in Mongolia Project funded by Global Affairs Canada. The “Study of Private Sector Perceptions of Corruption” is conducted under The Foundation’s Global Affairs Canada funded Strengthening Democratic Participation and Transparency in the Public Sector in Mongolia Project (STEPS).

Bayanmunkh Ariunbold is a project manager for The Asia Foundation in Mongolia. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.

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Number of HIV-infections in Mongolia rises to 252 www.xinhuanet.com

ULAN BATOR, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The number of people infected with HIV in Mongolia rose to 252 after one case was registered in February, the country's National Statistical Office said in a report Wednesday.

More than half of the HIV patients are between 20 and 44 years old and about 99 percent of the infections were sexually transmitted, according to the report.

The first case of HIV infection in Mongolia was registered in 1992. Since then, 40 people have died from this disease in the Asian country with a population of more than three million.

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Mongolia anti-graft body probes 2009 Oyu Tolgoi deal www.reuters.com

ULAANBAATAR (Reuters) - Anti-graft authorities in Mongolia are investigating a 2009 investment pact that kickstarted development at the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine now run by Rio Tinto, which helped open Mongolia to foreign investors.

Turquoise Hill Resources, the Rio-controlled unit that owns a 66-percent stake in the mine, said late on Tuesday it had received a request for financial information to assist an investigation into suspected abuses of power by “authorized officials” when the 2009 pact was negotiated.

There was no indication Oyu Tolgoi was a subject of the investigation, the statement said, without giving details.

A spokesman for the Mongolian government did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

The landmark agreement was signed with Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Mines, which changed its name to Turquoise Hill Resources in 2012. It has long been controversial in Mongolia, with some politicians accusing the government of handing over too much control over big mining projects to foreign interests.

Lawmakers have made numerous attempts to amend the pact, and the disagreements led to a three-year freeze in construction at a vital underground section of the mine in 2013.

However, analysts said the current investigation may owe more to domestic political infighting, and the growing need of officials to show the public they will no longer ignore widely perceived corruption in government.

Luvsanvandan Sumati of the Mongolian polling organization Sant Maral Foundation said anti-corruption officials may be flexing their muscles in a bid to win over a skeptical public.

“The majority of the population think, ‘Well, they’re catching tiny fish, while the big fish are left alone,’” said Sumati.

In a survey in March 2017, Sant Maral said that less than 10 percent of respondents viewed the performance of Mongolia’s Independent Agency Against Corruption favorably. Nearly half of respondents said it was “bad” or “very bad”.

Reporting by Terrence Edwards; Editing by David Stanway and Clarence Fernandez

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Central Wastewater Treatment Plant’s silt to be cleaned www.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ At its regular meeting on March 14, the Cabinet instructed the Minister of Construction and Urban Planning to purchase equipment to make silt of the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant odorless, dry and be burned within this quarter, sign a contract, and commence installation directly.

The Cabinet decided to take organizational actions and fully ensure its realization beginning from May, 2019 regarding the standard requirement for wastewater supply to sewerage integrated network, purifying industrial wastewater up to admissible levels and re-using wastewater for technological usage.

Moreover, the Cabinet assigned relevant Ministers and officials to develop proposals to improve the legal environment and monitor implementation of standards, rules and regulations. The Central Wastewater Treatment Plant began operations in 1964. It cleans 160-190 thousand cubic meters of wastewater a day, but the plant has no silt processing facilities and therefore dries 1000-1200 cubic meters of wet silt on an open-field each day. The accumulated silt reached 900 thousand cubic meters and contaminates the environment, air and soil and negatively impacts on people’s health.

B.Batchimeg

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China’s sanction on DPRK to determine Mongolia’s coking coal export www.ubinfo.mn

Coking coal formed around 70 percent of Mongolia's total coal export last year. While coal exports was 18.2 million tons in 2010, the number increased to 33.4 million tons in 2017. As for this year, the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Agency of Mongolia (MRPAM) estimates to export 52.5 million tons of coking coal in 2018 and 51.5 million tons in 2020. Coking coal mined from major deposits, such as Tavantolgoi, Ukhaakhudag, Nariin Sukhait, Ovoot Tolgoi and Khuren Tolgoi, are exported to a single market, to People’s Republic of China (PRC) mainly for steel production. The authorities of the PRC has set a goal to reduce air pollution, steel production and close old factories. Within the frame, the PRC plans to reduce steel production by 100- 150 million tons by 2020. The policy immediately took effect as the PRC cut its steel production by 50 million tons and coal by 150 million tons last year. As for this year, the initial plan is to diminish steel output by 50 million tons. Exports highlighted that this will shrink coking coal imports and escalate competition for coal China’s sanction on DPRK to determine Mongolia’s coking coal export exporters. Furthermore, the main coal importing ports have started increasing their inventories.

Accordingly, experts expect the coking coal demand to shrink in the following years due to the PRC’s policy. However, MRPAM informed that it will not directly affect Mongolia’s coking coal export. The coal export increased by 7.6 thousand tons last year, regardless of PRC’s reduction to steel production. The main reason to the increase was the U.N sanction on the nuclear test of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). China imported a total of 20 million tons of coal from DPRK in 2016; however, the sanction on DPRK ceased coal imports in April 2017. Therefore, Mongolia’s export will According to the Study of Private Sector Perceptions of Corruption Survey 2017 of the Asia Foundation, around 60 percent of Mongolian private entities are dissatisfied with the business environment due to corruption. While the satisfied entities were 27.2 percent in 2012, the number drastically reduced by 2.5 On March 9, Entree Resources LL C, a TSE listed Canadian company, announced its 2017 fiscal year results and reviewed corporate highlights. According to the updated technical report of the Entree Resources and Oyu Tolgoi joint venture project that was released in January of this year, it is estimated that Entree Resources expects to gain within its investment US D 2.1 billion in undiscounted before-tax cash flow just from the Hugo North extension over the first 33 years of production. In 2017, Entree Resources closed a non-brokered private placement of 18.5 million units of the company for gross proceeds of CAD 7.6 million. The company’s operating loss was US D 3.1 million, 3 percent higher than the comparative period in 2016. In addition, the report demonstrated that at December end of 2017, cash on hand was US D 7.1 million. For 2018, the company plans The number of individuals and entities opening new deposit accounts at the Mongolian Central Securities Depository (MCSD) increased by 2.5 percent compared to the previous month, exceeding 10 thousand. This is highest indicator since 2016, informed the MCSD. In terms of structures, around 99.8 percent of remain stable unless the PRC removes sanction on DPRK, noted MRPAM. In addition, the PRC’s policy creates M&A opportunities among the major steel producers and allow them to operate at full capacity, stabilizing the coking coal demand. Nonetheless, experts expect the PRC’s steel production to decline in the long-term.

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‘Dzud’ winter freeze kills 700,000 livestock in Mongolia www.asahi.com

ULAANBAATAR--Mongolia's harsh winter has killed more than 700,000 head of livestock this year, the highest toll since 2011, according to the country's statistics bureau, with extreme weather freezing animals dead in their tracks.

Mongolia is in the midst of a winter phenomenon called a "dzud," when extremely low temperatures and snow make it difficult for animals to survive.

"I've seen horses frozen while standing," said Ulaanbaatar livestock trader, Ganbaatar Burjaa, 38.

"This year's dzud has been very hard."

The 709,000 head of livestock lost in the first two months of the year is a toll five times higher than the same period last year, according to the National Statistics Office.

Mongolia's winters have destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of herders, forcing them to move to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, in search of work.

Burjaa moved to the capital three years ago because of the dzud.

In total, 66 counties across 12 provinces are facing dzud conditions, with snowfall covering half the country, the National Emergency Management Agency said last week.

The government has not declared a natural disaster.

Tuyaa Chimedbaldir, an official at the emergency management agency, said given the end of the winter was approaching, the toll this year was unlikely to be as bad as the winter of 2009-2010, when 9.7 million animals were killed.

"This time, the government has worked hard to prevent and reduce the risk of the dzud," she said.

However, experts warn the dzud could still kill many animals, with a severe drought that hit 70 percent of the country last summer leaving vast numbers of undernourished livestock weak and vulnerable.

According to the Mongolian Red Cross Society, thousands of families were unable to prepare feed to sustain their animals through the winter. The society has spent 1.2 billion tugrik ($500,000 or 53 million yen) to help 4,500 herder families.

"Mongolian herders did not purchase enough fodder, so the spring season might kill animals that are tired from the harsh winter," said Bayarmaa Chimedtseren, a rangeland monitoring and evaluation specialist at the "Green Gold" animal health project run by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

About 229,000 Mongolian families depend on animal husbandry for their livelihood. The total number of livestock reached 66.2 million as of December 2017.

Overgrazing, the degeneration of rangeland and poor land management contribute to the severity of the dzud, Chimedtseren said.

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