In a major step forward for progressing an extension to the Trans-Mongolian Railway, Aspire Mining and rail giant JSC Russian Railways have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the development of a strategic partnership to bring the project to fruition.  1

Subsidiaries of the companies, Infrastructure Development (ID) and Northern Railways, will discuss the construction, ownership and operation of an extension to the existing railway at Erdenet through to Aspire’s Ovoot coking coal project via Moron township.

The Trans-Mongolian Railway network is operated by the Ulaanbaatar Railway Mongolian-Russian Joint Venture (UBTZ), in which the Russian and Mongolian governments are equal shareholders.

The MoU will provide a framework for Aspire and ID to discuss issues including the application for a rail concession for the Erdenet-Moron-Ovoot rail line, investment and network rail capacity and integration.

Aspire’s managing director David Paull says, “The securing of the MoU with Russian Railways represents a step forward in the development of infrastructure to support the Ovoot coking coal project. In addition, it demonstrates the importance of the Erdenet-Moron-Ovoot rail line to the economic and national interests of Mongolia. The development of this rail line would establish an important new source of export revenues for Mongolia and routes to seaborne markets via the Russian rail system.”

JSC Russian Railways is one of the world’s largest transportation companies and operates more than 85,000km of rail network, since its establishment by the government in 2003. It engages in full-service freight transportation, locomotive traction, infrastructure operations, rolling stock repair and maintenance, long-haul and suburban passenger transportation, container transportation and logistics and engineering, research and construction. The company participates in cross-border railway joint ventures and railway construction and management projects in Armenia, China, Finland, Germany, Iran, Libya, Mongolia and North Korea.

Aspire’s 330 million tonne Ovoot project in northern Mongolia is the largest coking coal resource in the region. The company’s current priority is to upgrade the resource estimate and progress development of key infrastructure including access to rail.