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United Airlines changes policy after 'horrific' passenger ordeal www.bbc.com

United Airlines is changing its policy on giving staff last-minute seats on full flights after a man was dragged screaming from an overbooked plane.
The airline said that in future crew members would be allocated seats at least an hour before departure.
It comes after passenger Dr David Dao lost two front teeth and suffered a broken nose when he was forcibly removed from a flight last Sunday.
United Airlines said the move was aimed at improving its customer services.
The incident involving Dr Dao caused outrage and widespread condemnation of the airline after shocking footage was shared and watched by millions of people online.
His daughter, Crystal Dao Pepper, later told a news conference in Chicago that the family had been "sickened" by what had happened.

Law enforcement officials dragged Dr Dao off a flight departing from Chicago for Louisville, Kentucky, because it was fully booked, and the airline wanted four passengers to make way for staff members.
The 69-year-old Vietnamese-American physician had refused to leave, saying he needed to go home to see his patients. He was then dragged down the aisle of the aircraft.
His lawyer later said that Dr Dao found the experience "more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced when leaving Vietnam".

The ordeal led to demonstrations at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and turned into a public relations disaster for United Airlines.

The situation escalated when a response from the airline's chief executive, Oscar Munoz, failed to mention any use of excessive force.
"This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologise for having to re-accommodate these customers," he said in a statement. He also said that Dr Dao was "disruptive and belligerent".
Days later Mr Munoz, who was facing calls to resign from online petitions that had received thousands of signatures, said he felt "shame and embarrassment" and vowed that it would never happen again.
The airline offered compensation to all customers on board last Sunday's United Flight 3411.



BSGR sues George Soros over loss of Guinea iron project www.mining.com

On April 14th, BSG Resources filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York against George Soros and is asking for $10 billion in damages based on allegations that the billionaire’s “illegal conduct destroyed” the group’s investment in Guinea’s Simandou deposit.

According to Bloomberg, the company controlled by Israeli mining magnate Beny Steinmetz says Soros’ defamation campaign stripped them of rights to the African iron ore deposit and other business opportunities around the world.

Steinmetz was arrested in Israel in December of 2016 on suspicion of bribing government officials in Guinea to obtain rights over Simandou. After the period of restriction elapsed in January, he was released without charges.

Now, the diamond tycoon wants to flip the coin. His controlled company’s suit says that Soros and his controlled entities influenced government officials in Guinea to hinder BSGR’s plans. It also says that the Hungarian-American business mogul had no economic interest in Guinea and was “motivated solely by malice.”

BSGR sues George Soros over loss of Guinea iron project
In detail, BSGR’s complaint says Soros was driven by a grudge that dates back to 1998 around a business in Russia. It adds that that was the reason behind Soros-funded companies’ decision to fabricate reports about Steinmetz’s alleged payment of millions of dollars in bribes to obtain permits to one of the world’s richest iron ore sites.

The Guinean government –Bloomberg’s account adds- used those reports to forbid BSG Resources Ltd. from claiming rights to the Simandou deposit in April of 2014.

Simandou has over two billion tonnes of reserves and some of the highest grades in the industry (66% – 68% Fe which attracts premium pricing).

The same day the lawsuit was filed in New York, different media outlets including Bloomberg, The Telegraph, and Reuters tried contacting Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros, but he didn't immediately respond to requests for comments made outside of regular business hours.

This is the latest chapter in a long, ongoing battle that has also “shaken to the core” Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto (LON:RIO). Back in November, the world’s second largest mining company unveiled emails sent by some of its executives in May 2011 related to a dubious payment made to an external consultant working on the firm’s Simandou project.

The revelations triggered several probes as well as a couple of management shakeups, including the polemic dismissal of the company’s’ energy and minerals boss Alan Davies.



New pipeline broadbases gas supplies www.chinadaily.com

The 1,454-km Kazakh-China link will transport 5 billion cu m annually

A new strategically important natural gas pipeline running from southern Kazakhstan to China began operating on Friday, China National Petroleum Corp said in a statement.

The company said the pipeline, which has annual installed transportation capacity of 6 billion cubic meters of gas, will help ensure diversification of the nation's gas supplies.

The 1,454 kilometer pipeline is being jointly operated by CNPC Trans-Asia Pipeline Co Ltd and Kazakhstan's state KazTransGaz-and will provide China with 5 billion cu m of natural gas each year-according to Asia's biggest oil and gas producer CNPC.

CNPC said it is a key energy project between the two countries as well as a significant part of the Central Asia-China gas pipeline, which starts at Turkmen-Uzbek border city Gedaim and runs through central Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan before reaching Horgos in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

According to the State-owned CNPC, which provides more than two-thirds of the country's natural gas, the pipeline is a typical project along the Belt and Road Initiative and Kazakhstan is located in a prominent position.

Analysts said the new natural gas pipeline would further diversify China's sources of gas imports and followed the China-Russia crude oil pipeline, the China-Kazakhstan oil pipeline as well as the China-Myanmar crude oil pipeline, which started operations on Monday.

Li Li, energy research director at ICIS China, a consulting company that provides analysis of China's energy market, said there is also a chance that China might face a gas surplus.

Li said the growth of China's gas consumption had also moderated since the start of the economic slowdown.

A bonus was that the safety standards for pipeline transmissions were much higher and the project would also ensure a stable energy supply to China, she added.

A researcher at State-owned China National Petroleum Corp in November said the country could face a gas surplus of 50 billion cu m a year by 2020, due to long-term contracts for imports of liquefied natural gas and pipeline expansion plans, energy news agency Platts reported.

CNPC said the pipeline would also provide more than 2,000 jobs for locals and provide natural gas for more than 1.5 million local residents.

The start of gas flows at the southern Kazakhstan natural gas pipeline followed news that a CNPC unit specializing in oil engineering, manufacturing and construction-China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corp-signed a contract with Russian gas giant Gazprom to take part in the construction of the Amur gas processing plant, a move to further secure domestic gas supplies.



World bank: Modest recovery expected in Mongolian economy in 2018 www.en.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The outlook for developing East Asia is expected to remain broadly positive in the next three years, driven by robust domestic demand and a gradual recovery in the global economy and commodity prices, according to a new World Bank report.
The report was presented at the World Bank Mongolia Office on April 13.
It says: Poverty in the region is likely to continue to fall, driven by sustained growth and rising labor incomes.
The global environment and domestic vulnerabilities, however, still pose risks to the region’s prospects. In the face of faster-than-expected interest rate hikes in the U.S., protectionist sentiments in some advanced economies, and rapid credit expansion and high levels of debt in several East Asian countries, the report recommends that policy makers continue to focus on prudent macroeconomic management and ensuring sustainable fiscal balances in the medium term.
The just-released East Asia and Pacific Economic Update expects the Chinese economy to continue to slow down gradually, as it rebalances toward consumption and services. It forecasts China’s growth rate to be 6.5 percent in 2017 and 6.3 percent in 2018, compared with 6.7 percent in 2016. In the rest of the region, including the large economies in Southeast Asia, growth is expected to pick up slightly to 5 percent in 2017 and 5.1 percent in 2018, up from 4.9 percent in 2016. As a whole, the economies of developing East Asia and Pacific are projected to expand at 6.2 percent in 2017 and 6.1 percent in 2018.
“Sound policies and a gradual pickup in global economic prospects have helped developing East Asia and Pacific sustain growth and reduce poverty,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific. “For this resilience to be sustained, countries will need to reduce fiscal vulnerabilities while improving the quality of public spending and fostering global and regional integration.”
Growth in the region will continue to be driven by strong domestic demand, including public, and increasingly private, investment. This trend will also be supported by gradually rising demand for exports, as emerging markets and developing economies recover. The slow pace of recovery in commodity prices will benefit commodity exporters in the region, but won’t unduly hurt the economies of commodity importers in East Asia.
In China, growth will continue to moderate, reflecting the impact of the government’s measures to reduce excess capacity and credit expansion. As a result, the report expects activity in the real estate sector to slow down.
The large developing economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will likely expand slightly faster in 2017-18, although for different reasons. The Philippines will benefit from higher public spending on infrastructure, an uptick in private investment, credit expansion, and increased remittances, as growth accelerates to 6.9 percent in both 2017 and 2018. Higher government subsidies, more infrastructure spending and rising exports will push up Malaysia’s economy by 4.3 percent in 2017 and 4.5 percent in 2018.
In Indonesia, credit expansion and higher oil prices will help the economy grow 5.2 percent in 2017, up from 5 percent in 2016. In Vietnam, growth will rise to 6.3 percent in 2017, in line with favorable market sentiment and strong foreign direct investment.
The region’s smaller economies will generally benefit from the continued vitality of their larger neighbors, and some will also benefit from higher commodity prices. Cambodia’s economy will grow 6.9 percent in 2017 and 2018, with higher public spending and the expansion of agriculture and tourism offsetting a drop in the construction and garment sectors. In Myanmar, growth will reach 6.9 percent in 2017 and 7.2 percent in 2018, up from 6.5 percent in 2016, as infrastructure spending increases and structural reforms attract more foreign investment.
Papua New Guinea will see its economy gradually recover, thanks to a number of new mining and petroleum projects. Mongolia’s economy will stagnate in 2017, as the government restores its debt to sustainable levels, but a modest recovery is expected in 2018.
“Despite favorable prospects, the region’s resilience depends on policy makers taking account of, and adjusting to, significant global uncertainties and domestic vulnerabilities,” said Sudhir Shetty, Chief Economist of the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific Region. “Policy makers should prioritize measures that counteract global risks threatening the availability and cost of external finance, as well as export growth. Efforts should also be made to strengthen policy and institutional frameworks to spur increases in productivity.”
The report calls for macroeconomic prudence to address the significant risks to the region’s economic prospects. Across the region’s large economies, increasing fiscal revenues can help governments finance programs that boost growth and foster inclusion while reducing risks to fiscal sustainability, the report says. Some smaller commodity-exporting economies will need to take steps to increase their fiscal solvency. With rising inflation – albeit from a low level – and potentially more volatile capital flows, the report says policy makers in much of the region should consider adjusting their accommodative monetary policies.
In China, the report recommends that the government sustain its efforts to reduce corporate debt and restructure state-owned enterprises, tighten the regulation of shadow banking and address rising household mortgage debt. Reforms to reduce excess industrial capacity could be complemented with improved social transfers and labor policies. With credit growth remaining high across much of the region, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Lao PDR, the report suggests an emphasis on strengthening regulation and enhancing supervision.
The longer-term challenge for the region lies in sustaining rapid growth while ensuring greater inclusion. Governments can address these challenges by increasing productivity and investment, which have slowed recently in several economies, as well as by improving the quality of public spending.
In the face of rising protectionism outside the region, East Asia can seize opportunities to advance regional integration, including by deepening ongoing initiatives, lowering barriers to labor mobility and expanding cross-border flows of goods and services within the ASEAN Economic Community.
In addition, the report says policy makers can put future economic prospects on a more sustainable path if they take steps to reduce pollution caused by farming, a rising threat amid the intensification of agriculture in the region.


2017 budget amendment approved www.en.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Yesterday, April 14, Parliament approved amendments to the law on 2017 State Budget and Law on Social Insurance Fund, proposed by the Cabinet on March 24. The amendments sets the 2017 state revenue projection at MNT6.035.7 billion or 23.3 per cent of GDP and expenditure at MNT8.750.2 billion, 33.6 per cent of GDP, with a deficit amounting to MNT2.714.4 billion, 10.4 per cent of GDP. That means the Parliament increased the revenue by MNT20 billion and lowered the total expenditure and pure loan amount by MNT39.6 billion, including operational cost by MNT 26 billion, and making budget deficit down by MNT59.7 billion than the Government proposal.
Total subsidies to local budget from the state budget will be MNT132.183.7 million, while revenue to the state budget from local budgets will be MNT206.308.3 million.
Regarding the 2017 Social Insurance fund, its revenue will be MNT1.999.863.5 million and its expenditure will be MNT1.891.751.5 million.


Prominent bankers emphasize the importance of transparency and international standard www.en.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Mongolia hosted its April Monthly Meeting with prominent international and domestic bankers, as well as representatives from the Bank of Mongolia on April 12, 2017, at Shangri-La Ulaanbaatar Hotel.
The panelists included Chief Economist of Bank of Mongolia J. Ganbaatar, CEO of Xac Bank M. Bold, CEO of Khan Bank John Bell, Executive Vice Chairman of Trade & Development Bank Randolph Koppa, Deputy CEO of Golomt Bank Tomas Bravenec, and AmCham Mongolia Board Member and Country Representative for ING Bank Erik Versavel.
The meeting was attended by over 90 participants, including AmCham members in the financial industry and representatives from Mongolia’s leading businesses. The panelists took part in a discussion entitled “Mongolian Banking System – Challenges, Opportunities and Ways Forward” and discussed key topics of interest, including the upcoming Asset Quality Review (AQR) for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) extended fund facility program, the proposed tax on deposits and savings, the entry of the international banks in to the Mongolian market, and a bill on investment banking.
Mr. M. Bold, CEO of Xac Bank, opened the discussion and said, “When the banks are growing, weaknesses are hidden, and when the banks are experiencing difficulties, their weaknesses are shown. The banking system audit with the IMF program will help us build a stronger and healthier banking system, and help us to identify if there are some potential weaknesses that should be addressed.”
Mr. J. Ganbaatar, Chief Economist at the Bank of Mongolia, also commented on the upcoming AQR and noted, “Bank of Mongolia recently issued a tender for an international auditing firm to conduct the AQR.” He complimented the growing competence and standards of local commercial banks, saying, “The banks are acquiring an increasing number of more professional independent directors, which is helping them to raise their governance standards and transparency.”
Mr. Randolph Koppa, Executive Vice Chairman of Trade & Development Bank, commented on the entry of international banks in to Mongolia and said, “Due to the current Mongolian banking system, compliance issues, and political uncertainties, there isn’t strong interest from international banks to enter the Mongolian market and to be operational.”
“We are facing a number of challenges in the banking industry today. However, usually, the challenges can become opportunities if we come together and find the right way to tackle the issues and move forward. AmCham will work with our members, our newly launched Financial Services Committee, and all stakeholders to bring about real policy change and international standards to the financial sector through our collaborative efforts,” Mr. Erik Versavel, AmCham Mongolia Board Member and Country Representative for ING Bank, said during his closing remarks.


Mongolia serves as the shortest route to connect Asia and Europe www.mongolia.gogo.mn

Mongolia, Russia and China joint forum, “Transit Mongolia – 2017” was successfully held on the 7th of April 2017 in Beijing.
The forum was organized by the Road and Transport Development Ministry in collaboration with the Mongolian Russian Joint Stock Company “Ulaanbaatar Railway” aiming to introduce Mongolia`s potential and resources as well as discuss future development policy, railway transit freight, border crossing, and the cooperation between the freight forwarders, railway ports and sea ports for the development of transit freight.
Transit Mongolia – 2017 forum was attended by government organizations, carriers, consignors, consignees, border, and customs administrations of the three countries.
The forum highlighted the opportunity to ship freights from Europe to Asia and Asia to Europe through Mongolian territory in the shortest time under safe and favorable conditions.
At the meeting between Chinese side, two new freight routes set to be opened and the train will run once in a week and four times in a month, reports the Minister of Road and Transport B.Tsogtgerel.
Located between two great empires, Mongolia will not only be connecting its two neighbors, but also will be serving as the shortest route to connect Asia and Europe. The Trans-Mongolian railway connects Moscow and Beijing through its 1110 km long railway which considered as shorter than Kazakhstan`s corridor by 513 km as well as Manchurian corridor by 748 km.
However, 167 freight train run through Mongolian corridor in 2016 while ten times more or 1700 freight train run through Kazakhstan and 1200 freight train went through Manchurian.
Also, Mongolia shortened freight terms from 31 hours to 28 hours for routes from Russia to China and for 36 hours to 31 hours in routes from China to Russia. The freight distance per night was cut to 850 - 950 km.
Mongolia railway uses broad gauge so that there is a need to transfer freight. Thus the country offered discount on freight cost as well as decreased the transfer freight term to 240 minutes from 420 minutes. Therefore, Mongolia aims to increase its transit freight by three times (400 containers) in 2017.
An initiative to build railway connecting Russia and China through Mongolian territory, roads, oil and gas pipelines and five power lines and other infrastructure is called Steppe Road, which was approved by the meeting of heads of three countries in accordance with Chinese Road and Belt initiative and Eurasian Economic Union by Russia. It is considered as the first major program of establishing economic corridor.
Trade turnover between China and Russia expects to reach US$ 200 billion by 2020 after the establishment of Steppe road railway corridor.
China has divided its transit zone into three section including West, East and Center. Mongolia is included China`s central transit route. Therefore, the relevant authorities reminded a special need for increased economic efficiency by running China`s central transit route through the territory of Mongolia.
In the recent years, the volume of trade and investment between the three countries, Mongolia, Russia, and China, have been consistently increasing. In 2015 the trade turnover of Mongolia and China reached 7.3 billion USD and the trade turnover of China and Russia reached 64.2 billion USD.


Copper production jumped by a million tonnes last year www.mining.com

The latest report by the International Copper Study Group which includes full year 2016 estimates shows world mine copper production jumped by 5.3%, or 1 million tonnes last year to 20.16 million tonnes.
According to the report the increase was mainly due to a 38% (650,000 tonnes copper) rise in Peruvian concentrate output that benefitted from new and expanded capacity brought on stream in the last two years; a recovery in production levels in Canada, Indonesia and the US, and expanded capacity in Mexico, and low frequency of supply disruptions due to strikes, accidents or adverse weather conditions.
However overall growth was partially offset by a 3.8% (220,000 tonnes) decline in production in Chile, the world’s biggest copper mine producer, and a 4.5% decline in the Democratic republic of the Congo where output is being constrained by temporary production cuts.
On a regional basis, production rose by 6% in the Americas and 11.5% in Asia but declined by 3.5% in Africa while remaining essentially unchanged in Europe and Oceania.
ICSG estimates world refined production increased by about 2.5% (530,000 tonnes) in 2016 with primary production (electrolytic and electrowinning) increasing by 3% and secondary production (from scrap) declining by 2%.
World refined copper balance for 2016 indicates a deficit of around 50,000 tonnes, mainly because of a 2.5% increase in Chinese apparent demand. The refined copper market balance for the month of December 2016 showed a small surplus of around 20,000 tonnes.
Preliminary production by the top 10 copper mining companies totalled nearly 9.5m tonnes last year, a 4% increase compared to 2015, and some 45% of global production.
Six out of 10 companies increased their copper output while four of them declined. All companies in the Top 10 that disclose production costs reported significant reduction in copper unit costs.


Coking coal price jumps to six-year high www.mining.com

The price of coking coal gapped higher again on Thursday with the industry benchmark price tracked by the Steel Index surging 4.6% to $314.00 a tonne due to continued supply outages following tropical storms in Australia.
It's the highest price for Australia free-on-board premium hard coking coal since the second quarter of 2011. That price spike was also the result of flooding in Queensland that saw quarterly contract prices negotiated at an all time high of $330. There was little in the way of a spot market and quarterly contract benchmarks negotiated by Australian miners and Japanese steelmakers was the industry standard.
Coking coal has more than doubled in two weeks on the back of disruption to Australia’s coal exports associated with Cyclone Debbie which caused serious damage to key rail lines serving mines in the state of Queensland.
Three lines are set to re-open by the end of this week according to operator Aurizon but large sections of the Goonyella railroad in the centre of the network could be out for a further four weeks.
Roughly 12–13 million tonnes of Australian met coal cargoes destined for China, India and Japan could be delayed.
Customs data released yesterday show Chinese imports of coal – both thermal and metallurgical coal – in March rose 12.2% from a year ago and 25% from February to 22.1 million tonnes.
The global met coal market is around 300 million tonnes per year with premium hard coking coal or PHCC constituting more than a third of the total market. More than half of PHCC seaborne coal come from Australian producers according to TSI data.
A reduction in allowable work days at China's coal mines last year sparked a massive rally in coal prices, lifting met coal prices to multi-year high of $308.80 per tonne by November from $75 a tonne earlier in 2016. But the speculative rally fizzled soon fizzled out with the commodity hitting a 2017 low of $150.10 a tonne last month.


Apple may invest in Toshiba's chip business www3.nhk.or.jp

NHK has learned that IT giant Apple is moving to buy struggling Japanese conglomerate Toshiba's chip business.
The US firm is willing to spend billions of dollars to obtain a substantial stake. Its aim is to secure a stable supply of memory chips for its iPhones.
Toshiba officials are now in the process of narrowing down the bidders for their profitable semiconductor business, which they have spun off this month.
But Japanese government officials have expressed concerns about Toshiba selling critical technologies to overseas buyers.
Sources say that in response, Apple would have Toshiba keep some shares so the Japanese and US firms combined, will have a majority stake.
Apple executives are also considering teaming up with Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn. The Taiwanese maker is trying to acquire about 30 percent of the stake, and call on Japanese firms to join them.