1 MONGOLIA-CHINA AGREE TO COLLABORATE IN INCREASING MEAT EXPORT WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2018/09/21      2 U.S. AND MONGOLIA SEEK TO STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP WWW.STRTRADE.COM PUBLISHED:2018/09/21      3 MONGOLIA, U.S. LEADERS DISCUSS BILATERAL TIES WWW.XINHUANET.COM PUBLISHED:2018/09/21      4 BELT AND ROAD SIGNIFICANT TO MONGOLIA, PEOPLE AROUND WORLD -- ACADEMIC WWW.ENG.YIDAIYILU.GOV.CN PUBLISHED:2018/09/21      5 PETRO MATAD UPDATES MONGOLIA EXPLORATION WWW.OGJ.COM PUBLISHED:2018/09/21      6 RIO TINTO’S EXIT FROM COAL PAYS OFF, TO RETURN $3.2B FROM SALES PROCEEDS TO SHAREHOLDERS WWW.MINING.COM PUBLISHED:2018/09/21      7 OPENING CEREMONY OF SAINSHAND SALKHIN PARK HELD WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2018/09/21      8 ALIBABA’S MA SAYS TRUMP’S TRADE WAR ‘DESTROYED’ HIS PROMISE TO CREATE JOBS FOR 1MN AMERICANS WWW.RT.COM  PUBLISHED:2018/09/21      9 LEGAL DISPUTE OVER EMC OWNERSHIP COMES TO AN END WWW.ZGM.MN PUBLISHED:2018/09/20      10 ERDENES TAVAN TOLGOI REVENUE SURGES DUE TO HIGHER COAL PRICES WWW.NEWS.MN PUBLISHED:2018/09/20      НУРАХ ДӨХСӨН БАЙРУУДЫГ ШИНЭЧЛЭХ КОМПАНИ ОЛДОХГҮЙ БАЙНА WWW.ZGM.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/21     МОНГОЛ УЛС ВАШИНГТОН, ПЁНЬЯНЫ ХЭЛЭЛЦЭЭРТ ЗУУЧЛАХАД БЭЛЭН ГЭДГЭЭ ЗАРЛАЛАА WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/21     УЛСЫН ХЭМЖЭЭНД 85.3 МЯНГАН ТОНН ТӨМС ХУРААН АВААД БАЙНА WWW.MONTSAME.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/21     ЗГ: БУЦАЛТГҮЙ ТУСЛАМЖИЙГ УСНЫ НӨӨЦИЙГ САЙЖРУУЛАХ, ХЭРЭГЛЭСЭН УСЫГ БУЦААН АШИГЛАХАД ЗАРЦУУЛНА WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/21     ҮСХ: УЛААНБААТАРТ АЖИЛЛАГЧДЫН САРЫН ДУНДАЖ ЦАЛИН УЛСЫН ДУНДЖААС 121.7 МЯНГАН ТӨГРӨГӨӨР ИХ БАЙНА WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/21     МОНГОЛ УЛСЫН ИХ ХУРАЛ, ЕВРОПЫН ПАРЛАМЕНТ ХООРОНДЫН XII УУЛЗАЛТААР ХАМТАРСАН МЭДЭГДЭЛ ГАРГАЛАА WWW.DNN.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/21     ТӨРИЙН АЛБАНЫ УДИРДАХ АЖИЛТНЫ УЛСЫН ЗӨВЛӨГӨӨН БОЛЖ БАЙНА WWW.UNUUDUR.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/21     2019 ОНЫГ МОНГОЛ, АМЕРИКИЙН ЗАЛУУЧУУДЫН ЖИЛ БОЛГОНО WWW.EAGLE.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/21     УУРХАЙЧДЫН АЖЛЫН БАЙР НЭМЭГДЭЖ, ЦАЛИН ӨСЧ БАЙНА WWW.GOGO.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/20     “ЭРДЭНЭТ”-ИЙН 49 ХУВИЙН ӨМЧЛӨЛ ТОЙРСОН ХУУЛЬ ЗҮЙН МАРГААН ЭЦЭС БОЛЛОО WWW.ZGM.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2018/09/20    

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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Five major projects will be moved forward this fall www.gogo.mn

Western-educated, young Mongolian Deputy Minister of Finance Kh.Bulgantuya briefed public on difficult fiscal situation. Amended 2016 budget was approved with consolidated fiscal deficit of 18%, reduction from expected execution of 20.6% by original 2016 budget. Budget had large shortfalls due to aggressive fiscal projections including ones on major projects such as Gatsuurt (not delivered). Some of Government’s (GoM) proposed cuts and all tax hikes have been rejected by Parliament, however, Ministry of Finance continues to plan tax system reform.
Government of Mongolia wants to recover FDI by moving forward 5 major projects, specifically:
OT Underground project,
TT project, 
TT power plant,
TT railroad and
Gatsuurt.
IMF Standby Program: The Deputy Minister acknowledged that quickly and successfully implementing IMF Standby Program as in 2009 would not be easy.
World Bank said, “Recent announcement of the accurate fiscal situation was a significant step toward a credible fiscal consolidation. The revised revenue projections of the government seem largely realistic, based on conservative assumptions. Projected high budget deficit and rapidly rising government debt, however, urgently call for a comprehensive and strong fiscal consolidation plan, including spending adjustment based on priorities and revenue mobilization measures.” The Bank also stated that there is a strong need for prioritizing expenditures to protect the vulnerable and improving public expenditure efficiency.
SUMMARY OF THE DEPUTY MINISTER’S INTERVIEW
Mongolian Deputy Minister of Finance Kh.Bulgantuya (MA Economics from Yale University, ex-OT, ex-Petrovis, former MPP Secretary) has said in an interview on Friday, September 16
"Amended 2016 budget has been approved. Fiscal revenues have been revised downward by ~MNT1.7t (~US$850m) to MNT5.3t (~US$2.65b). Fiscal expenditures were adjusted upwards by MNT1.7t (~US$850m) to MNT9.7t (~US$4.85b), resulting in consolidated budget deficit of MNT4.3t (~US$2.15b) or 18% of GDP. We had to proactively amend budget to reflect ongoing decline of the revenues and increase in the expenditures since shortfall of fiscal revenues was likely to reach MNT4-5t (US$2-2.5b) and deficit was expected to reach 20.6% of GDP by execution of original approved 2016 budget. Secondly, we consolidated Mongolia’s four, five budgets. Due to consolidation, fiscal deficit increased ~4x from MNT1.2t deficit in 2015. Offbudget spending of MNT1.4t (US$700m) particularly had impact in this respect. We reduced deficit to 18%. Economy, as a whole, is in decline, for example, only import revenues declined 30% y-o-y. Also, Economic Transparency law did not result in significant tax revenues.
Very optimistic projections, including ones on several major projects such as Gachuurt, were reason for decline in fiscal revenues. Also, navigation revenues projections were too aggressive at 30% increase. Further, privatization of several large SOE-s was not executed as planned.
Some fiscal cuts proposed by Government were declined by Parliament. The legislature did not support paycuts for senior state officials. Severance subsidy for state officials was not reduced from 36 months pay. We attempted to cut all noncritical expenses, such as fuel, postal, conference and events expenses by 50%. Children’s cash transfers of MNT 21,000 per month have run out of funding and were stopped since July. We reflected it in the amendment; children monies will be issued till end of 2016. Children of targeted group or ~60% of total children will receive cash, remaining 40% will be opened accounts on their names and they will be able to cash out since 2019. We have stopped indefinitely mutual retirement benefits because Social Insurance Fund (SIF) does not have necessary ~MNT50b funding. Student’s monthly subsidy of MNT70K per month will be issued till end of 2016, however on condition of fulfilling all previous requirements. Only SIF is burdening budget by requiring subsidy from budget of MNT400-500b (~US$200-250m) per year. Four years later, the SIF fiscal burden is expected to reach MNT1t (~US$500m) per year.
Government proposal for tax hikes on very minor part of population and certain sectors were not approved by Parliament. But we are researching several options. Tax hikes proposed by Government will not impact ordinary citizen. Tax hike will only impact 1-2% of taxpayers. Majority of Mongolian people do not own gold deposits, do not live in apartments more than 150 sq. meters, do not have salary more than MNT2.5m and do not own liquor and tobacco businesses. Going forward, it would be proper to implement income level based tax. Countries with same GDP per capita have income taxes with 5 levels from 5% to 35%. Further, Mongolian economy has grown in size.
We have no right to continue another 4 years funded by external debt at any cost and pretend that everything is fine. Mongolian economy is in really difficult shape and Ministers, who are also MP-s, are working under great pressure. In 2017 and 2018 budget has not sufficient funds to pay all debt principal and interest payments even if we don’t pay salaries to anyone and don’t fund current expenses of any kindergarten. In another words, we have more debt than our income.
We will restore trust of foreign investors by moving forward OT Underground project, TT project, TT power plant, TT railroad and Gatsuurt project. Negotiations on major projects will be done this fall. Investors don’t trust Mongolian authorities because previously even projects approved by Parliament were returned.
It will be hard to quickly and successfully implement the IMF program like in 2009. Last time Mongolia was in IMF Standby Program in 2009, Mongolian economy was relatively small. We had no debt of more than US$20b as we do now. Consumption of Mongolia has hugely expanded; it is not easy to reduce it. In particular, in last 4 years because of unlimited luxury consumption, Mongolian state has eaten and borrowed our future, said “it is ok, our children will pay it”. We must now to use all our internal resources and capabilities in union of state, private sector and citizens, all together for the country’s good. Some foreign country or some good soul somewhere will not fund Mongolian state".
WORLD BANK FISCAL COMMENTARY
According to National Statistics Office of Mongolia, fiscal deficit reached MNT 1.8 trillion in Jan-Aug, ~2.34x increase from MNT769b in the same period last year.
In Mongolia Economic Brief released on September 6 (before approval of amended 2016 budget), World Bank has said that
“Weaker commodity prices and import contraction were reflected in budget revenues felling by 3.3 percent (yoy) in the same period. Mining revenues sharply dropped, with royalties almost halving from one year ago. Customs duties declined by over 10 percent due to weaker imports. Non-tax revenues also declined by 4.3 percent, reflecting a 33 percent drop in oil revenues, and minimal collection of dividends and privatization revenues. “
“Unbudgeted spending programs and loose spending controls largely contributed to budget expenditures jumping by 33 percent (yoy) in Jan-July. Government programs were launched in the first half. These programs included three policy loan programs (Good Herder/Student/Fence Programs) and a buyback program of the ETT shares owned by Mongolian citizens (Good Share Program). In Mar-July, over MNT 500 billion was spent for the four Good Programs. These programs were not recorded in the budget execution report until July, and have been funded by the BoM. Many of the on-budget expenditures also exceeded the original budget plan, including the Child Money Program, interest payments, and public investment spending. In addition, the government spent over MNT 400 billion in Mar-July for the Housing Mortgage Program that was previously undertaken by the BoM. The mortgage program spending, however, is yet to be recorded in the budget execution report. “
“Corrective measures have been taken by the government. The proposed budget, however, excluded the Housing Mortgage Program that was transferred to the government in March. The commercial portfolio of the DBM still remains off the budget. A revised Medium Term Fiscal Framework for 2016-18 was also submitted to the parliament. The consolidated overall budget deficit—which adds DBM’s off-budget commercial portfolio to the government’s definition—is expected to reach over 19 percent of GDP by end- 2016.

World Bank’s projections for budget deficit in 2016

The recent measures taken by the new government are welcome, but further actions are urgently needed. The immediate challenge facing the new government was to contain the sharp rise in budget deficit and consolidate unbudgeted expenditures. The recent announcement of the accurate fiscal situation was a significant step toward a credible fiscal consolidation. The revised revenue projections of the government seem largely realistic, based on conservative assumptions. Projected high budget deficit and rapidly rising government debt, however, urgently call for a comprehensive and strong fiscal consolidation plan, including spending adjustment based on priorities and revenue mobilization measures. The fiscal consolidation plan should also include all of the remaining off-budget programs such as Housing Mortgage Program and DBM’s off- budget corporate lending programs that would likely increase fiscal burden.”
Nominal value of general government debt, including the sovereign-guaranteed TDB debt and the outstanding debt of the Build-Transfer (BT) projects, is projected to reach over 90 percent of GDP due to the high deficit and exchange rate depreciation, a sharp rise from 66 percent of GDP in 2015.
There is a strong need for prioritizing expenditures to protect the vulnerable and improving public expenditure efficiency. Weakening growth and declining household consumption, despite the large increase in government spending this year, suggests that public expenditures may not be productive enough to support growth and jobs, underscoring the need for proper assessment of public expenditure efficiency and effectiveness. Particularly, the most recent poverty analysis showed that poverty closely tracks growth and consumption. The recent high unemployment rate and a sharp drop in household consumption indicate that many households near the poverty line may be sliding back to poverty, putting a drag on growth. Strengthening the social safety net, particularly targeting the vulnerable groups near or below the poverty line, would help mitigate the social costs of fiscal adjustment and support growth.
Source: Mongolia Metals & Mining

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President of Mongolia arrives in New York for 71st UNGA session www.en.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ After completing his official visit to the Republic of Cuba, President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj arrived in New York to attend the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 19.
 
He is to take part in the General Debate and other high level meetings. The President will participate in the high-level event at the initiative of the UN Secretary General on appealing to enforce the Paris Agreement within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and present certificates and credentials.
 
On the sidelines of the visit, the President will visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, meet with the city mayors, give a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania and an interview to the university press.
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Panasonic develops cameras for self-driving cars www3.nhk.or.jp

Leading Japanese electronics maker Panasonic is testing an experimental self-driving vehicle equipped with cameras and other sensory equipment.
 
The 2-seater compact car has 5 cameras installed in it to identify surrounding objects.
 
Panasonic engineers are testing to see whether the cameras accurately recognize the surroundings, and whether the steering wheel and brakes function properly based on the information collected by the cameras.
 
Panasonic plans to increase revenues from the self-drive technology by more than 150 percent to 600 billion yen, or 5.9 billion dollars, over 2 years.
 
The head of the Panasonic automotive business development center, Susumu Ibaraki, says he wants to speed up development.
 
Other major electronics companies are also expecting high growth in self-driving vehicles.
 
Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric are working to strengthen their camera and sensor businesses to capitalize on the growth.
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Central banks boost gold reserves as low interest rates bite www.theguardian.com

Central banks have boosted their gold stocks by almost 10% since the financial crash, reflecting its renewed attractiveness as a safe haven in an environment of uncertainty and low or negative interest rates.
 
China and Russia have led the switch to gold away from foreign currencies, especially the US dollar, to shore up their reserves. Western nations, including the UK, have halted several decades of mass sell-offs.
 
According to the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), central banks have swooped on the gold markets every year since 2008 to become net bullion buyers, adding more than 2,800 tonnes, or 9.4%, to reserves.
 
Britain has one of the smallest holdings of gold in the G7 at 0.9% in 2016 while the US has the largest after increasing its share from 24.5% to 24.8% between 2000 and 2016. In 1980, the US had 44.1% of all gold stocks and 75.7% in 1940.
 
“Developed countries [accounting for the lion’s share of total official holdings] have been conserving stocks, while developing countries led by China and Russia have been building them up.
 
“This is the longest protracted spell of gold accruals since 1950-65, when central banks and treasuries acquired a net total of more than 7,000 tonnes during the economic recovery after the second world war,” said David Marsh, the director of OMFIF.
 
He said central banks were turning back to gold purchases in line with a century of practice between 1870 and 1970. “This has restored the yellow metal as a central element of monetary management.”
 
According to the World Gold Council there was a 15% jump in demand in the second quarter of the year as purchases by exchange-traded funds added to central bank purchases.
 
“In fact, the gold price posted the strongest first half-yearly performance, up 25%, for more than 35 years,” it said.
 
The OMFIF report found that central bank purchases over the past eight years have returned to the 100-year average up to 1970 when annual net gold purchases were 350 tonnes a year.
 
Marsh said gold had gone through seven stages since the early 19th century. A period of selling by central banks from the late 1990s juddered to a halt in 2008, but not before the UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland had unloaded billions of pounds worth of the metal.
 
Between July 1999 and March 2002, the Bank of England sold 395 tonnes of gold at an average price of $275.60 per troy ounce. It is estimated the UK lost about £4bn after the price recovered to approximately $1,000 an ounce. Since 2008 it has been worth between $1,000 and $1,600.
 
The sales were widely criticised at the time.
 
The report said: “Central bank gold transactions have often been somewhat disassociated from the gold price.”
 
Central banks were net sellers during four decades of fluctuating but generally rising bullion prices from the early 1970s onwards.
 
“The latest period since 2008 has been a time of sharp price swings in the $1,000 to $1,600 per ounce range, but the eight-year switch to central bank purchases appears to have been a factor behind the price recovery since 2015,” the report said.
 
 
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Bitcoin is money, U.S. judge says in case tied to JPMorgan hack www.reuters.com

Bitcoin qualifies as money, a federal judge ruled on Monday, in a decision linked to a criminal case over hacking attacks against JPMorgan Chase & Co and other companies.
 
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected a bid by Anthony Murgio to dismiss two charges related to his alleged operation of Coin.mx, which prosecutors have called an unlicensed bitcoin exchange.
 
Murgio had argued that bitcoin did not qualify as "funds" under the federal law prohibiting the operation of unlicensed money transmitting businesses.
 
But the judge, like her colleague Jed Rakoff in an unrelated 2014 case, said the virtual currency met that definition.
 
"Bitcoins are funds within the plain meaning of that term," Nathan wrote. "Bitcoins can be accepted as a payment for goods and services or bought directly from an exchange with a bank account. They therefore function as pecuniary resources and are used as a medium of exchange and a means of payment."
 
The decision did not address six other criminal counts that Murgio faces, Nathan wrote.
 
Brian Klein, a lawyer for Murgio, said he disagreed with the decision.
 
"Anthony Murgio maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name at his upcoming trial," he added.
 
Prosecutors last year charged Murgio over the operation of Coin.mx, and in April charged his father Michael with participating in bribery aimed at supporting it.
 
Authorities have said Coin.mx was owned by Gery Shalon, an Israeli man who, along with two others, was charged with running a sprawling computer hacking and fraud scheme targeting a dozen companies, including JPMorgan, and exposing personal data of more than 100 million people.
 
That alleged scheme generated hundreds of millions of dollars of profit through pumping up stock prices, online casinos, money laundering and other illegal activity, prosecutors have said.
 
Shalon has pleaded not guilty, and is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. He hired new lawyers last month and is seeking permission to replace lawyers who joined the case in June, a Monday court filing showed.
 
The case is U.S. v Murgio et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-00769.
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Microsoft to shut London Skype office putting 220 jobs at risk www.bbc.com

Tech giant Microsoft is set to close the London office of its Skype subsidiary with the potential loss of 220 jobs.
The company said it was consolidating its London offices and moving workers to a new site in Paddington.
"Microsoft reviewed some London-based roles and made the decision to unify some engineering positions," it said.
The move will potentially put at risk a number of "globally-focused" roles at Skype and Yammer, it added.
Skype was founded in London in 2003 and snapped up by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5bn (£6.5bn).
In July, Microsoft said it would be scrapping 2,850 jobs across its business in the fourth quarter of 2016, although it is yet to say when the London Skype office will close.
"Microsoft will be entering into a consultation process and offer new opportunities, where possible," the company said.
"We are deeply committed to doing everything we can to help those impacted through this process."
Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent
On the face of it, the closure of Skype's London office says more about Microsoft's problems in managing the business since the takeover than about the UK's attractiveness as a location.
But it is also further evidence that ownership matters. Skype was an Estonian company but founded and rooted firmly in London, and when Microsoft swooped it was assumed that this would continue to be where its future was shaped.
Now it's facing strong headwinds, failing to establish itself as the prime means of business communications, and Microsoft is cutting costs.
If the firm was still controlled from London, the axe might have fallen elsewhere - but with key decisions being made far away in Seattle, there was no room for sentiment about Skype's history.
Foreign buyers always make positive noises about boosting jobs and investment - but sometimes those promises are hard to keep.
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China to invest $450 billion in agriculture www.rt.com

Over the next four years the Chinese government will invest 3 trillion yuan ($450 billion) into developing the country’s agriculture, the official state news agency Xinhua reports.

The state-run Agricultural Development Bank of China and the Ministry of Agriculture have agreed to protect national food security, develop China's seed industry and support the industry via overseas businesses, according to the agency.

The step also aims to raise the efficiency of Chinese agriculture and improve rural incomes.

The Agricultural Development Bank, one of China's main policy lenders, will provide the finance including setting interest rates and offering financial products.

Earlier this year, the bank said it would lend 3 trillion yuan to agriculture as a way to reduce poverty. The agency didn’t say if the current commitment was separate from the plan.

This month, China’s state-owned ChemChina chemical corporation raised its bid to takeover Swiss agrochemicals and seed supplier Syngenta to $43 billion. The deal triggered food security concerns in the United States, but the US national security panel has approved the deal.

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Samsung phone fire in China not caused by battery: supplier www.reuters.com

A supplier to Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) said on Monday that its battery does not appear to have caused a Galaxy Note 7 smartphone to ignite in China, after Chinese media reported one of the handsets caught fire.

The incident comes amid a recall of the Note 7 phones across the globe including South Korea and the United States due to faulty batteries causing the devices to catch fire while charging or in normal use. Samsung has said it has sold 2.5 million phones equipped with the suspect batteries.

Late on Sunday, Chinese online financial magazine Caixin cited an internet user's report that their Note 7 phone, bought from JD.com Inc (JD.O), had caught fire in what appeared to be the first report in China of a fire involving the handset.

Amperex Technology Limited (ATL) said it conducted a joint investigation with Samsung on the phone in question and determined the incident was not directly linked to a battery made by the China-based firm.

"According to the burn marks on the sample, we surmise that the source of the heating comes from outside the battery, and it's very likely that there was an external factor causing the heating problem," the battery maker said in a statement.

An ATL official confirmed to Reuters one of its batteries was in the Note 7 phone that reportedly caught fire and that the heating problem was caused by something other than the battery.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters the phone was damaged by an external heat source, possibly an induction oven or a fan heater. The person was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and so declined to be identified.

A Samsung spokeswoman referred Reuters to ATL's statement and declined to comment further.

JD.com said it referred the case to Samsung.

ALSO IN TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Samsung last week announced a recall of 1,858 Note 7 phones in China but those devices were products distributed before the official Sept. 1 launch. The company said the phones sold through the official launch used batteries different from those in reported fires.

ATL is owned by Japanese components maker TDK Corp (6762.T).

(Reporting by Se Young Lee in SEOUL, Paul Carsten in BEIJING and Sijia Jiang in HONG KONG; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

 
 
 
 
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China cuts retail fuel prices www.chinadaily.com

BEIJING -- China will lower retail prices of gasoline and diesel due to falling international crude prices.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the national economic planner, announced Sunday that gasoline prices will be cut by 155 yuan (about $23.17) per tonne and diesel prices by 150 yuan per tonne from Monday.

Under the current pricing mechanism, if international crude oil prices change by more than 50 yuan per tonne and remain so for 10 working days, then refined oil products such as gasoline and diesel in China are adjusted accordingly.

This year the NDRC has cut retail fuel prices four times and raised them six times.

NDRC researcher Zhao Gongzheng said global crude oil prices are no longer rising due to market worries about an agreement on freezing production, rising yields in countries including Iran and weak U.S. demand.

"The prices will likely remain low in the short term, fluctuating between $40 to $50 per barrel," Zhao said.

The NDRC also asked the country's three state-owned oil giants to ensure supplies during the price downturn.

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World's gold miners stick close to home in hunt for more metal www.reuters.com

The world's biggest gold miners are taking a cautious approach in their hunt for bullion, spending more money to explore around existing mines rather than new territory in a strategy that may have short-term gains but risks future production growth.

Top producers are relying more than ever on small companies to do the heavy lifting of searching for new deposits and increasingly taking 10 to 20 percent equity stakes in the junior miners.

Exploring close to home is more cost efficient and improves the odds of discoveries. But the chances of making major new finds are limited, diminishing global gold output, which is expected to decline by nearly 9 percent in the next three years.

"It only makes sense to be looking in your own backyard first before exploring elsewhere," said Paul Rollinson, Chief Executive of Kinross Gold, which spends about 90 percent of its exploration budget around existing sites.

"We focus on areas we already know, with existing infrastructure nearby, in jurisdictions we are comfortable with."

The world's 10 biggest gold miners are bumping up the share of exploration budgets earmarked for land around existing mines, or brownfield exploration, increasing the spending to 56 percent in 2015 from 45 percent in 2013.

In the meantime, they curbed spending on greenfield exploration in new territory to 21 percent from 25 percent of their budgets, data from SNL Metals & Mining, a unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence, shows.

"They say the best place to discover a mine is in the shadow of a headframe," atop mine shafts, said Maria Smirnova, portfolio manager at Sprott Asset Management.

"The rate of failure in exploration is staggering, so it is always better to try and improve what you have already."

SCREWS ON SPENDING

Barrick Gold, the world's largest producer by output, looks to near-mine discoveries because plants and equipment are already in place and the deposit is well known, said its president, Kelvin Dushnisky.

Finding affordable and reliable deposits became vital in the last three years as miners slashed spending amid a slump in gold prices. Miners have kept a lid on spending this year despite a partial recovery in bullion prices and income.

Exploration spending by the world's 10 biggest gold miners, such as South Africa's AngloGold Ashanti, sank 37 percent to $1.075 billion between 2013 and 2015, the last year for which data is available, SNL Metals & Mining data shows.

Newmont Mining the world's top gold miner by market valuation, cut its exploration budget by nearly 40 percent in 2013 and prioritized areas expected to deliver higher-margin ounces, said Chief Executive Gary Goldberg.

"That's first of all around our existing operations," he said, adding that Newmont has earmarked about 80 percent of its approximately $200 million budget in 2016 for brownfield exploration.

Longer-term, Newmont is eyeing Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire and Queensland, Australia for greenfield exploration, he said.

"Any management team in the industry would consider brownfields expansions first," before committing to big new projects, given capital is still limited, said David J. Christensen, CEO of mining fund ASA Gold & Precious Metals.

Goldcorp Chief Executive David Garofalo said there was little available to throw even that limited capital at.

"We are a supply-challenged industry," he said. "We've had a very poor track record over the last few years of exploration success."

Global gold mine production peaked in 2015 and is estimated to fall nearly 9 percent by 2018, to 2,903 tonnes, Thomson Reuters GFMS data shows.

Big gold miners have always relied on small exploration companies for discoveries, acquiring them to access their big finds. But they are increasingly hedging their bets with 10-20 percent equity stakes in juniors, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Sam Crittenden in a report earlier this year.

Barrick plans to be more active partnering with juniors going forward, Executive Vice President for Exploration and Growth, Rob Krcmarov, said in June.

Mid-tier producer Agnico Eagle Mines, which has bucked the industry trend by boosting its drilling budget over the past five years, plans to continue investing in juniors even as it adds to its drilling budget.

Agnico last week increased its gold estimate for its Amaruq project, a new deposit close to its existing Meadowbank mine in Canada's Arctic, by 13 percent to 3.71 million ounces.

"Greenfields is tough. I think the general consensus amongst gold producers is that the real greenfields is best left to the juniors," said Chief Executive Sean Boyd.

(Editing by Chris Reese)

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