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http://zgm.mn/post/4600/

Bilguun: Drop in copper price may affect other commodities

Bilguun: Drop in copper price may affect other commodities
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http://zgm.mn/post/4600/

The current business environment of Mongolia has been declining as the spread of the coronavirus impacts the global economy in the last few months. Across nearly every industry, multinational companies are confronting the stark reality that business will not go on as usual. Economist and CEO of MIBG Bilguun Ankhbayar expressed his opinion on the situation in Mongolia. 

-Since the COVID-19 outbreak has been threatening economies around the world, some of the differences have been seen in the stock market. For example, Mazaalai bond yield rose dramatically to 12 percent and Khuraldai bond to 13 percent as well. What is your verdict on it? 

-Not only international investors but also users have experienced mental shock. It leads people to act strangely. Everyone individuals including the investors have been seeking zero-risk options since the virus became worse. Following the situation, many changes have been made in the markets. 

-Most of the econismts seem to expect Mongolia to issue bonds again in the near future as the Government bonds are due soon. But the bond yields have increased. Do you think it will be stabilized at its previous rate? 

-As far as I can see, the bond yields may decrease but not the same as it was before. Mongolia is likely to attract additional finance by issuing bonds. 

-Mining sector, one of Mongolia’s main sources of economic growth, has been halted for a couple of months. Even though the coal export to China resumed recently, is it still possible to cover its losses in short term? 

-It is hard, especially in the short term. The borders to China had been closed since the early January. In other words, it is merely impossible to cover almost two months of coal exports revenue. However, it is not the biggest problem for Mongolia than the potential commodity price decline. Recent drop in copper price may affect other commodities such as coking coal. Global economies are all connected. Producers and exporters in China are most likely to see decline, increasing the risk of Mongolia’s mineral products price to slip in the long term. 

-Does the Single Window policy necessary during the economic hardship? 

-Ofcourse, it will be effective to provide public service in this situation. As the investors have seen, Mongolians have the potential to unite when the crisis occur and the Government can provide reliable information, showing solidarity and cooperation. 

-Central banks around the world have taken measures to manage the economic crisis, such as cutting the policy interest rate or spuring specific sectors. Most of them combined both fiscal and monetary policy. How accurate is Mongolia’s fiscal policy at the time? What should we do in the upcoming year? 

-Well, we need to expand the budget to invest it on the long term projects, namely mining sector. It will benefit Mongolia in the long term as well as affecting other sectors. Focusing on the main revenue source is important. 

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CGA: Coal export fell by 59.8 percent in Q1

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  • Mongolia exported 306,600 tons of copper concentrate as of March
  • Mongolia exported 2.05 million tons of iron ore in the first quarter, down 0.7 percent from a year earlier

In the first quarter, Mongolia exported 3.1 million tons of coal, a decrease of 59.8 percent compared to the same period of 2019. It lowered by 39 percent to USD 250.6 million in sales revenue. Currently, coal exports are recovering and coal is being exported through Gashuunsukhait, Shiveekhuren, Zamiin-Uud, and Khangii ports. However, the volume of coal export is less than usual. As of March, the country exported 306,600 tons of copper concentrate, decreased by 15.2 percent year on year. In terms of sales revenue, it dropped by 68 percent to USD 351.2 million. Although copper exports have not been disrupted due to the new restrictions followed by the coronavirus, declining copper prices at the global market have had a direct impact on Mongolia’s exports. During the reporting period, oil exports totaled 322,300 barrels, reaching USD 17.7 million, which is 80 percent less than the previous year. Oil exports are scheduled to begin on April 4, according to the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia (MRPAM). However, it plans to export about 20 cars of oil a day. In terms of its share in total exports, coal has decreased to 22 percent this year. Copper concentrate rose from 28 percent of total exports to 30.8 percent this year. As for other mineral products, exports of zinc concentrate fell by 16 percent to 36,900 tons in the first quarter. In total sales revenue, it decreased by 23 percent to USD 48.3 million. Tsairt Mineral LLC, one of the main exporters, was not affected by the new coronavirus infection, but the company said zinc prices were worse than expected this year. Mongolia exported 2.05 million tons of iron ore in the first quarter, down 0.7 percent from a year earlier. In terms of total sales revenue, it increased by 32 percent to USD 140.7 million. Iron ore prices are relatively favorable compared to the same period last year. 

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Xanadu Mines: Exploration at the Kharmagtai deposit was suspended in February

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On Tuesday, Xanadu Mines Ltd., copper and gold exploration company with several advanced exploration projects in Mongolia’s highly mineralised and vastly underexplored south Gobi region, made a statement related to the COVID-19 impact on its operation. The company’s main project, diamond drilling at the Kharmagtai deposit in Umnugovi province, temporarily halted in February. “We have not seen a significant impact on our business to date. However, although there are currently no restrictions on transportation locally, any further deterioration of the situation may result in quarantines and affect Xanadu’s ability to undertake exploration activities in the South Gobi,” the company said in a report. “It is not possible to estimate the impact of the outbreak’s near-term and longer effects or Governments’ varying efforts to combat the out-break and support businesses. This being the case, we do not consider it practicable to provide a quantitative or qualitative estimate of the potential impact of this outbreak on the Group at this time.” Subsequent to end of the financial year, the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. In March 2020, Mongolia reported its first transported case of COVID-19. As a response, the country closed its borders and halted all international flights. As of today, Mongolia had reported 14 cases of COVID-19. Xanadu also revised its 2020 action plan and canceled or postponed activities it considered unimportant. In 2020, the company aims to cut management spending by AUD 1.3 million, or 35 percent, from 2019. On March 24, 2020, the company announced that it entered into an earn-in agreement with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) to sole fund up to USD 7.2 million in exploration expenditure at the Company’s Red Mountain copper-gold Project in Mongolia.

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Two more imported cases of COVID-19 registered

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The Ministry of Health and the National Center for Communicable Diseases on Wednesday reported that two more imported cases of COVID-19 have been detected in Mongolia. On March 28, the Republic of Korea sent a charter flight to repatriate its citizens in Mongolia and three family members of the staff of the Turkish Embassy in Mongolia arrived by the flight to Ulaanbaatar. “On March 28, three family members of the staff of the Turkish Embassy arrived by a flight of South Korea, but the two of them have been confirmed with COVID-19. Just after landing, they were immediately isolated and tested three days later. 10 people who had close contact with them as well as the others who served them have been also isolated for medical supervision and tests,” said General Director of the National Center for Communicable Diseases. 

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Gold purchase rises fourfold in Q1

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  • 3.6 tons of precious metals is gold and 1.7 tons is silver
  • As of february, foreign exchange reserves amounted to USD 4.3 billion. This is an increase of 0.22 percent from the previous month and 21 percent from the same period of the previous year 

In the first three months of this year, the central bank purchased 5.3 tons of precious metals, increasing fourfold from 1.2 tons in the same period last year. 3.6 tons of precious metals are gold and 1.7 tons is white silver. The dramatic decline in gold purchases in the first quarter of 2019 was mainly due to the uncertainty of the legal environment in royalties. It may have resulted in this year’s rise as well, according to the officials. In the first months of 2020, increase gold prices dominated. For example, in March, the average purchase price of gold was MNT 141,500 per ounce, which is about 30 percent higher than the same period of the previous year. In addition, the closure of passenger traffic may have restricted the smuggling of gold. Purchasing gold is one of the key instruments for the Mongolian central bank to increase its official foreign exchange reserves. As of February, foreign exchange reserves amounted to USD 4.3 billion. This is an increase of 0.22 percent from the previous month and 21 percent from the same period of the previous year. The central bank aims to increase the reserves to at least USD 6.5 billion in the medium term.