1 ‘ASIAN DOOR 2018’ FAIR KICKS OFF WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/21      2 BEYOND BITCOIN: THE OTHER CRYPTOCURRENCIES YOU SHOULD KNOW TOO WWW.CNN.COM PUBLISHED:2018/11/21      3 ATTRACTING INVESTMENT FROM FRANCE TO AGRICULTURAL SECTOR WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/21      4 MONGOLIA AND RUSSIA TO EXPAND COOPERATION IN TRANSPORT SECTOR WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/21      5 NEWLY-OPENED CHINA-MONGOLIA FRIENDSHIP CULTURAL CENTER TO BOOST TIES WWW.CHINA.ORG.CN PUBLISHED:2018/11/21      6 UN APPRECIATES MONGOLIA’S CONTRIBUTIONS FOR NORTHEAST ASIA WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/21      7 BHP OFFICIALLY DROPS 'BILLITON' FROM NAME WWW.MINING.COM PUBLISHED:2018/11/21      8 THE NOTICE: WWW.MONGOLIANBUSINESSDATABASE.COM PUBLISHED:2018/11/21      9 IRKUTSK REGION SUPPLIES USD 31 MILLION PRODUCTS TO MONGOLIA WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/20      10 27 PARLIAMENT MEMBERS SUBMIT PETITION ON CABINET DISSOLUTION WWW.ZGM.MN PUBLISHED:2018/11/20      ОРОН СУУЦНЫ БАРИЛГЫН ӨРТГИЙН ИНДЕКС III УЛИРАЛД ЖИЛИЙН ДҮНГЭЭР 15 ХУВИАР ӨСЖЭЭ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/21     САЙЖРУУЛСАН ТҮЛШНИЙ БОРЛУУЛАЛТ УДААШИРЧЭЭ WWW.ZGM.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/21     ЗАСГИЙН ГАЗРЫН ТОГТВОРГҮЙ БАЙДЛААС ҮҮДЭЖ “ГЭРЭГЭ” БОНДЫН ХАНШ БУУРЧЭЭ WWW.MEDEE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/21     ЭДИЙН ЗАСГИЙН ӨСӨЛТ 7.1 ХУВЬД ХҮРНЭ ГЭВ WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/21     ТӨРИЙН ҮЙЛЧИЛГЭЭ ЦАХИМД ШИЛЖЛЭЭ WWW.UNUUDUR.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/21     УЛААН БУУДАЙ, ТӨМСНИЙ ДОТООДЫНХОО ХЭРЭГЦЭЭГ БҮРЭН ХАНГАНА WWW.GOGO.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/21     "ГУДАМЖ" ТӨСЛИЙН 14 БАЙРШЛЫН, 50 ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГИЙН БАЙГУУЛАМЖИЙГ НИЙСЛЭЛИЙН ӨМЧИД БҮРТГЭЖ АВЛАА WWW.MONTSAME.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/21     САНАМЖ: WWW.MONGOLIANBUSINESSDATABASE.COM НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/21     ЭРЧИМ ХҮЧНИЙ ИХ АЧААЛАЛ 973 МВТ-Д ХҮРЧЭЭ WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/20     ЗАСГИЙН ГАЗРЫГ ОГЦРУУЛАХ БИЧИГ ӨРГӨН БАРЬСНЫ ДАРАА "ГЭРЭГЭ" БОНДЫН ХАНШ БУУРЛАА WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/11/20    

Events

Name organizer Where
Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018" Frontier Securities Tokyo Japan
"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London

NEWS

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USD hits record high in Mongolia due to higher imports www.china.org.cn

ULAN BATOR, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The exchange rate of the U.S. dollar against Mongolia's national currency the Tugrik hit a new record high on Wednesday mainly because of higher imports.

The USD/MNT pair rose sharply to 2,510 in the country's domestic market, exceeding the level of 2,500 for the first time. The exchange rate stood at 2,490 on Monday.

The rise was mainly attributed to increasing imports and seasonal business activities that lead to the outflow of dollars, experts from the central bank said, adding that the Tugrik's depreciation was a temporary phenomenon. Enditem

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Readout of Vice President Mike Pence’s Meeting with Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh of Mongolia www.whitehouse.gov

Vice President Mike Pence met today with Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh of Mongolia to reiterate the strong bilateral relationship between Mongolia and the United States. The two leaders discussed their newly expanded comprehensive partnership and the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation’s $350 million compact with Mongolia. The Vice President recognized the strong support that Mongolia has pledged to continue to provide to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and Mongolia’s continued enforcement of UN sanctions on North Korea. The two leaders also discussed other issues of interest, including opportunities for greater bilateral trade and investment. The Vice President thanked the Prime Minister on behalf of President Trump and the American people for Mongolia’s gift of $100,000 in camel hair blankets to those affected by Hurricane Florence.

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Mongolia launches EU-funded projects to promote green development, environmental protection www.xinhuanet.com

ULAN BATOR, Sept.19 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia on Wednesday launched three projects funded by the European Union (EU) to promote green development and environmental protection in the landlocked East Asian country.

The first project will provide support for wool and cashmere manufacturers in pushing for a green, sustainable development of the cashmere industry, according to a visiting EU delegation to Mongolia.

Mongolia is the world's second-largest producer of raw and washed cashmere, with a goat population of more than 27 million and an annual cashmere output of up to 9,400 tons.

Some 90 percent of the cashmere is exported and only the remaining 10 percent is made into final products.

On Wednesday, the Mongolian government also launched two other EU-funded projects aimed at boosting environmental protection in the capital Ulan Bator.

One of them will help build new, warm homes for a total of 1,000 low-income households living in the ger districts or shantytowns. Another project is intended to increase public awareness about air pollution.

Ulan Bator suffers from some of the world's most severe air pollution in winter months.

More than 800,000 residents, or over half of its population, live in shantytowns with no tap water, central heating, sewerage systems or regular garbage collection. They usually burn raw coal and other flammable materials such as plastics and old tires to keep warm and cook meals during the six-month-long winter.

The three EU-funded projects will last three years with total funds of 5 million euros (5.8 million U.S. dollars).

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Coal exports from top shipper hobbled with miners facing constraints www.mining.com

(Bloomberg) — Coal exports from Indonesia will be restrained this year, which could frustrate a plan by the government to ease a burgeoning trade deficit while keeping prices elevated, according to an industry group.

Producers in the world’s largest shipper face an order backlog of 18 months as they can’t get hold of additional mining equipment, Pandu Sjahrir, chairman of the Indonesian Coal Mining Association, said in an interview in Jakarta. The slow ramp up in supply will probably keep coal prices buttressed at about $100 a metric ton through the end of next year, he said.

“Supply restriction is still quite real,” Sjahrir, who’s also finance director at miner PT Toba Bara Sejahtra, said on Monday. “It’ll be the end of 2019 before they can fulfill some of their orders today.”

That’s bad news for President Joko Widodo’s government, which is trying to rein in a current-account deficit and bolster the currency that’s tumbled to the weakest level since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. A rally in coal prices and the abundant reserves in Indonesia makes the commodity an ideal target in the government’s drive to boost exports and shore up dollar earnings.

Major coal producers and contractors in Indonesia are having difficulties accessing additional mining equipment, Shirley Zhang, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said in an emailed note Monday. “Upside for Indonesian coal exports from their current level is limited” in the near term, she said.

Asia-Pacific benchmark Newcastle prices have rallied about 10 percent this year and are averaging $105, the highest level since 2011, amid resilient demand in China, the world’s largest user. The prospects for tighter supply to support prices at about $100 have also been flagged by Australia miner New Hope Corp.

The Indonesian government approved an extra 22 million tons of coal output for the rest of the year, about a fifth of the 100 million tons it was open to endorsing. While an increase of about 30 million tons in the next six months might be possible, according to Sjahrir, that would still be a relatively small amount compared with overall output.

Indonesia produced 461 million tons in 2017 and shipped about 389 million, from 456.2 million tons and 370 million respectively a year earlier, according to data from BP Statistical Review and Bank Indonesia compiled by Bloomberg.

(By Yoga Rusmana and Fathiya Dahrul)

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Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018" www.mongolianbusinessdatabase.com

Mongolian Business Database as the official supporting organization of Frontier Securities "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018" is pleased to invite you to this forum which will be held on November 19th 2018 in Tokyo and Invest Mongolia Ulaanbaatar will be in the first half of 2019 in Ulaanbaatar. Invest Mongolia is one the of the largest events on Mongolia, which serves as a platform of bringing in people from the Government, key industries' players, financial institutions, global investors and media houses attracting more than 1000 delegates where they get a chance to talk about several socio-political and economic development throughout the year. Please click the below links to know more details of the events.

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U.S.-China Trade Tussle Is Creating Winners in Southeast Asia www.bloomberg.com

“No one wins from a trade war,” is a standard refrain among economists. Southeast Asian businesses are trying to prove that maxim wrong.

The region is capitalizing on a rush of new orders and production moves as firms reconsider their business in the U.S. and China amid a deepening trade war. About one-third of more than 430 American companies in China have or are considering moving production sites abroad amid the tensions, according to survey results released Sept. 13 by AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai. Southeast Asia was their top destination.

Vietnamese furniture producer Phu Tai Corp. is among those looking to cash in. The maker of home furnishings for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. outlets in the U.S. is planning for a 30 percent increase in its exports this year and in 2019, according to Deputy General Director Nguyen Sy Hoe. It’ll invest about $10 million to expand two factories at its base in Binh Dinh province and to upgrade production lines in two other factories in Dong Nai further south.

“We see this as a great chance to boost our exports to the U.S. as we’re getting more orders from that market,” Hoe said by phone Sept. 4. “Given the escalating trade war between China and the U.S., many American importers are switching to buy from Vietnam.”

The 10-economy bloc of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, is a natural magnet for new factories thanks to low production costs and well-trodden manufacturing plants, solid growth with the five biggest economies expanding at about 5.3 percent on average, and improving ease-of-doing-business rankings -- not to mention geographical proximity to China.

Hong Kong’s Trade Development Council recognizes Southeast Asia’s clout. Nicholas Kwan, research director of the territory’s statutory body that supports local firms, called Southeast Asia “an economic powerhouse” and pointed Hong Kong businesses to the bursting region as a safe haven amid trade-war tensions in a press conference Tuesday.

Nations like Cambodia and Vietnam are looking more attractive than ever for consumer-goods makers such as Steven Madden Ltd. and Tapestry Inc.’s Coach
Manufacturing powerhouses behind much of the world’s electronics are preparing to move chunks of production away from China and toward such locales as Eastern Europe, Mexico and Southeast Asia
Producer sentiment indicators around the world have shown negative impact from the tariffs on $50 billion in goods the U.S. and China have imposed on each other since July.

With another $200 billion in Chinese imports targeted and China announcing retaliatory tariffs against $60 billion of U.S. goods, trade-reliant Southeast Asia will also be exposed to that overall drag. But unlike many developed economies, the alternative production bases also stand to gain as companies shift orders to them to avoid levies.

Nguyen Thanh Phuong, chief executive officer of Kangaroo Group, a Vietnamese producer of home appliances, forecast a 10 percent increase in sales to the U.S. in the second half of 2018. His company has received orders from American clients who used to buy from Chinese makers, Phuong said in a Tuesday interview in Hanoi.

“The new U.S tariff is helping our products become more competitive against Chinese ones,” he said.

Koratak Weeradaecha, finance director for Star Microelectronics Thailand, also has noticed fluctuations in orders that correlate with the trade tensions -- first, a delay as some adjusted to new tariffs, he said in an Aug. 24 interview. Orders have now increased by at least 15 percent from 2017 and “we expect the trend to be more apparent later this year.”

“Orders came from companies that moved their production lines here, which helped boost the supply chain in Thailand,” said Koratak. “And we think there should be more as many companies should think about relocating their plants to neighboring countries, as staying in China may be too risky.”

Electronics manufacturers aren’t the only ones in Thailand bound for a boost. Malayan Banking Bhd. cites automobiles, seafood, rubber, and tourism all as markets that stand to benefit as Chinese goods become less attractive.

The Thai government agrees that the seafood sector will win amid the U.S.-China disputes, with those goods being targeted on both American and Chinese tariff lists, said Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director general for the commerce ministry’s trade policy and strategy office.

“Canned tuna should be a prime beneficiary sector,” she said.

Thailand makes up about 21 percent of China’s fruit imports, so that market stands to gain against U.S. competitors that hold an almost 8 percent share. Judging by the ability to offer substitute goods, Thailand is among the best-placed in the world to find opportunity amid the chaos, according to a July report from Krungsri Securities.

While companies have been reluctant to act prematurely on production shifts, there have been some scouting areas in Thailand as potential factory sites, Nattapol Rangsitpol, director-general of the Ministry of Industry’s Office of Industrial Economics, told reporters Aug. 28.

It’s a similar story in Malaysia. “We’ve got so many inquiries that our greatest problem is how to ramp up capacity,” including in electronics, steel production and automation from both China and the U.S., Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters Sept. 13 in Hong Kong. “Once they come in it is very hard to pull out.”

Malaysia could see the benefits both as a trans-shipment point and because it’s a neutral country in which Chinese and American companies both would have an interest in investing.

Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok’s Kerry Logistics Network Ltd. is seeing “numbers are looking up a bit more” as companies divert distribution centers from mainland China and into places like Hong Kong and Taiwan, and parts of Southeast Asia, according to the company’s chairman, George Yeo.

“They’re thinking of the next factory, and they’re less likely to put it in China,” Yeo, a former trade and foreign minister in Singapore, told Bloomberg Television Sept. 14. He acknowledged that some firms already were planning to move business to lower-cost manufacturing sites outside of China.

The complication of calculating aggregate benefits for some economies is evident in Malaysia, which could score wins in some areas while also taking a hit to its parts-makers that sell heavily to China. For now though, Southeast Asia is shaping up as the one region which may notch some gains as the U.S. and China exchange trade blows.

Vietnam has “more opportunities than challenges” from the U.S.-China trade tensions, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told Bloomberg Television in a Sept. 10 interview. The premier views the dramas as helping push Vietnam toward enhancing other trade relationships and embarking on domestic reforms to keep its development apace amid turbulent times.

— With assistance by Mai Ngoc Chau, Yudith Ho, Natnicha Chuwiruch, Enda Curran, Jeff Black, and Karl Lester M Yap

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Yusaku Maezawa: The Japanese billionaire who wants to fly to the Moon www.bbc.com

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa first entered the public eye as a drummer in a hardcore punk band.

He went on to make a fortune as an online fashion tycoon, and is best known outside Japan for spending tens of millions of dollars at record-breaking art auctions.

Mr Maezawa's ambitions now stretch beyond Earth. He hopes to be the first civilian passenger to fly to the Moon, as part of an ambitious project with Elon Musk's SpaceX.

The colourful executive wants to take a group of artists with him on the flight slated for 2023.

Mr Maezawa, 42, has not revealed how much he paid for the trip, which brings together two eccentric billionaires who are not averse to being in the global spotlight.

The Japanese entrepreneur began selling rare CDs and records in 1998 through a company he founded called Start Today.

The mail-order catalogue business moved online at the turn of the millennium and added clothes to its offering.

"I was president of my company while touring around the country with the band," he told the Japan Times earlier this year. "When it became physically impossible to handle both, I chose my company - that was around when I was 25 or 26."

He launched fashion e-retailer Zozotown in 2004, and by the time he was in his mid-30s, he was a billionaire.

Forbes magazine now lists him as the 18th richest man in Japan with a personal wealth of $2.9bn (£2.2bn).

His company recently made headlines after it launched a bodysuit that customers can use to upload their exact body measurements to the clothes shopping site.

He has splashed his cash at high-profile contemporary art auctions and paid $110.5m (£84m) last year for a large piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat - a record for the late US artist.

At the time he said he planned to put it on display eventually at a museum in Chiba, his hometown.

In 2016, he paid $57.3m for another Basquiat work - Devil's Head. He said in a statement he "felt shivers" when he first saw it.

"Regardless of its condition or sales value, I was driven by the responsibility to acknowledge great art and the need to pass on not only the artwork itself, but also the knowledge of the artist's culture and his way of life to future generations," he said.

Now, the billionaire plans to use his trip around the Moon to inspire new "masterpieces," created by the artists he chooses to accompany him.

"They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth. These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us," the future amateur astronaut told reporters.

The price Mr Maezawa agreed to pay for his ticket to space has not been disclosed, but according to Mr Musk it's "a lot of money".

Still, doubt remains over whether or not Mr Maezawa and his art troupe will make it to orbit the Moon.

The launch relies on a rocket yet to be built, and Mr Musk himself said it was not "100% certain we can bring this to flight".

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Mongolian Foreign Minister receives Cardano blockchain founder www.news.mn

Cardano is not quite done introducing blockchain technology to developing countries. Founder Charles Hoskinson revealed he recently visited Mongolia to discuss ways to use the technology to innovate the country’s government and business sectors.

Hoskinson, who was part of the original Ethereum founding team, took to Twitter to share a photo of his meeting with Mongolian Foreign Minister D.Tsogtbaatar.

Unfortunately, he refrained from sharing any specific details of the meeting – other than confirming the pair chatted about “business,” “blockchain,” and “innovation.”

Cardano has devoted a significant chunk of its time towards building blockchain pilots for the world’s poorest nations. Back in May, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology. If it pans out, the agreement will see Cardano train a new generation of blockchain developers in Ethiopia.

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Erdene Announces Resource Estimate for the High-Grade Khundii Gold Project www.globenewswire.com

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Sept. 18, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Erdene Resource Development Corp. (TSX:ERD) ("Erdene" or "Company"), is pleased to announce the Mineral Resource estimate for its 100%-owned Khundii Gold Project in southwest Mongolia, prepared by RPMGlobal in accordance with the definition standards of National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-101”).

The Khundii Gold Project includes the Company’s high-grade Bayan Khundii and Altan Nar deposits, located 16 kilometres apart. Today’s announcement includes the Maiden Mineral Resource estimate for the Bayan Khundii deposit and incorporates the significant increase in the NI 43-101 Mineral Resource for the Altan Nar deposit reported by the Company in May 2018. These deposits are shallow and high-grade, outcropping and located within the newly discovered Khundii Gold District.

Highlights (see attached figures for reference)

• Khundii Gold project total Mineral Resource:

751,000 ounces gold at an average grade of 2.3 g/t gold, Measured and Indicated; and,
291,000 ounces gold at an average grade of 1.8 g/t gold, Inferred.
• At a higher cut-off grade of 1.4 g/t gold, the Khundii Gold Project contains:

642,000 ounces gold at an average grade of 3.7 g/t gold, Measured and Indicated, including, 357,000 ounces gold at an average grade of 5.2 g/t gold at the Bayan Khundii deposit. 
• Including precious and base metals, the Khundii Gold Project includes:

886,000 ounces gold equivalent (“AuEq”) at an average grade of 2.7 g/t AuEq, Measured and Indicated; and
382,000 ounces AuEq at an average grade of 2.3 g/t AuEq, Inferred. 
• Work has commenced on the Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Khundii Gold Project, expected to be announced in Q4-2018

“With the results of the maiden Bayan Khundii resource estimate, we have met our initial resource target for the Khundii Gold Project at grades significantly higher than the global average of producing open pit gold mines,” said Peter Akerley, Erdene’s President and CEO. “The Bayan Khundii and Altan Nar deposits provide synergies for our Company and represent a compelling development opportunity given their high-grades, proximity to surface and favorable metallurgy. We will incorporate these two resource estimates into a Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Khundii Gold Project by year-end and expect to submit mining license applications for both deposits in early 2019. At the same time, we continue our regional exploration program with drilling currently underway testing multiple targets, designed to expand current resources and discover new deposits in this newly discovered gold district.”

A supporting NI 43-101 Technical Report will be filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com within 45 days of this release.

Overview of Mineral Resource Estimate

Bayan Khundii is located 16 kilometres southeast of Erdene’s Altan Nar high-grade gold-polymetallic deposit, where the Company announced a significant increase to the mineral resource on May 10, 2018 (click to read news release). The two resource estimates are considered a single project (Khundii Gold Project) for future economic and technical development studies, and are discussed herein as the Khundii Gold Project Mineral Resource estimate (Table 1).

The Bayan Khundii Maiden Mineral Resource estimate (“Mineral Resource”) was prepared in accordance with NI 43-101 by RPMGlobal Asia Limited (“RPM”) and is dated effective September 12, 2018. The reported Mineral Resource (Table 2) is based on information provided to RPM by Erdene and verified where possible by RPM. All statistical analysis and mineral resource estimations were carried out by RPM. A final NI 43-101 Mineral Resource estimate and Technical Report will be filed on SEDAR within 45 days. The Mineral Resource incorporates 255 diamond drill holes totaling 42,656 metres, completed between Q4-2015 and Q2-2018. The Mineral Resource is contained within a near-surface, shallow-dipping and strongly mineralized system (intercepts up to 2,200 g/t gold as previously reported) that extends over an area of 1.2 kilometres (NE-SW) and 200 to 400 metres (NW-SE). Grade capping for the purposes of the Bayan Khundii deposit resource estimate averaged 51 g/t gold for high-grade domains (range from 8 g/t to 250 g/t gold) and a maximum of 1.5 g/t gold for the low and medium grade domains.

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Russian giant copper project in talks to raise $1.25B www.reuters.com

A company owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov is in talks to raise $1.25 billion from Russian banks by the start of 2019 to build a massive mining and metallurgical plant at Russia's biggest untapped copper deposit, its chairman said.

Large greenfield projects in Russia's energy and mining sector slowed after Russia was hit by Western sanctions four years ago, limiting the economy's access to foreign finance, but some of the bigger projects are now being revived with home-grown financing.

Usmanov's Baikal Mining Company, operator of the Udokan copper deposit, is betting on strong global appetite for the metal, which many expect to be in demand for use in electric vehicles.

With total resources of 26.7 million tonnes of copper, Udokan is one of the biggest untapped deposits in the world. 
"Russia’s largest banks have expressed interest in our project," Baikal Mining Company Chairman Valery Kazikayev told Reuters, adding that the progress in talks had been especially good with one of them.

With total resources of 26.7 million tonnes of copper, Udokan is one of the biggest untapped deposits in the world. However, it remained virgin since its discovery in 1949 due to lack of technology for its unique and difficult-to-extract ore.

When Kazikayev was receiving a PhD in Economics from the Moscow Mining Institute in 1976, one of the ideas being researched by his fellow students was a "clean" nuclear blast to extract the ore at Udokan, but that remained on paper.

Usmanov bought the right to develop Udokan for $500 million from the Russian government right before the 2008 financial crisis. It has taken 10 years for Baikal Mining Company to solve the technical challenges of the project.

An additional $330 million was spent on creating a new geological model for the deposit as it turned out that the Soviet estimate did not correspond with the real content of copper in Udokan's ore, Kazikayev said in a rare interview.

Now, the company has reached the stage when it is ready to start preparing the site for construction of the plant this month, which will use a mix of flotation and hydrometallurgy as production technology.

Project finance is being sought from banks because the Baikal Mining Company needs $1.35 billion to build a plant able to mine 12 million tonnes of ore a year and produce 130,000 tonnes of copper from it.

Kazikayev did not identify the banks the company was in discussions with. Russia's top banks – Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank – did not reply to Reuters requests for comment.

TIMELINE

The company plans to invest $100 million in the project, mainly focused on Chinese and other Asian markets, and raise the $1.25-billion project financing for the rest of the sum, Kazikayev said. With annual capacity of 12 million tonnes of ore, it will have an internal rate of return of at least 21 percent.

Udokan, which can potentially be expanded to 48 million tonnes, may speed up expansion subject to favourable market conditions for copper.

"Copper is one of the most promising metals," Kazikayev said. "That is why I think that the timeline of the project's capacity reaching 24, 36 or 48 (million tonnes of ore) may be tightened."

Two of four global mining giants and three Chinese companies have expressed interest in the project, and while the Russian company remains in contact with them, it currently plans to go ahead with the project on its own.

"We have not been offered enough (for a stake in the project) to make us strongly interested in this. We believe that we can do the first stage of the project on our own and thus increase the capitalisation of our project to a beneficial level," Kazikayev said.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt and Diana Asonova; additional reporting by Tatiana Voronova; writing by Polina Devitt; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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