Aspire Mining and Noble Group have increased their interest in the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project in northern Mongolia from 60% to 90% at a cost of US$201,500. This follows a recent coal geology report that established an exploration target of between 15 million and 25 million tonnes for Nuurstei.
ASX-listed Aspire has also secured a 12 month option to acquire the 50% interest of Singapore-listed Noble in the Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture. If exercised, this option would increase Aspire’s attributable interest in Nuurstei to 90%.
The Mongolian vendor’s interest has now diluted to 10%. A further US$200,000 is payable should a mining licence be granted in respect of the Nuurstei exploration licences.
Nuurstei is about 10km southwest of Moron, capital of Khuvsgul province. Nuurstei could comprise a shallow multi-seam open pit mining operation with a low strip ratio, particularly in the eastern part of licence which hosts relatively shallow seams.
A paved road has been constructed between Moron and the town of Erdenet, where existing rail infrastructure terminates. Coal produced at the project could potentially be transported along this road to Erdenet where it could then be loaded onto trains and delivered to customers.
With the potential future development of the Erdenet-Ovoot railway, a lower cost and higher capacity transport route will become available from 2018 subject to rail construction commencing in 2015.
Planned exploration work includes core drilling and coal quality test work to confirm coal seam continuity and coal quality across the tenement and enable a JORC resource statement to be compiled. A potential scoping study will be completed pending positive exploration results.
Further drilling work, to be completed during the 2015 exploration program, is required towards the western section to identify coal deposit depth and potential mining economics.
High quality coking coals, such as that found at Nuurstei, are in particular high demand by Chinese users within a blend primarily due to the low ratio of these coals in China’s own reserves and the growing requirement for higher quality coking coals in the coke industry.
Meanwhile, Aspire is heading to market with a capital raising. It has had a strong start to this with pre-commitments totalling $2.1 million as part of $6 million sought to advance its Mongolian coking coal projects, including the Ovoot project which has a probable JORC-compliant reserve of 255 million tonnes and is classed as the second largest coking coal Reserve in Mongolia.
Each of the Aspire directors have committed to participate in the capital raising with Neil Lithgow, a large shareholder and director, committing up to $2 million of this amount.