Aspire Mining’s 50%-owned Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture (ECJV) with the Noble Group has been granted two exploration licences with a third under application in the South Gobi region. These licences are all prospective for hard and semi-hard coking coal.

The two exploration licences are referred to as the Erdenbulag Coal Project with the area under application called Khuren.

These new licences are all focused on the South Gobi region of Southern Mongolia in an area that hosts coal bearing Permian age sediments and a number of existing coking coal mines and resources. The licence location is in an area between Ceke Border with China about 170km to the southwest and the Tavan Tolgoi Coal Field about 200km to the east.

Rail development in this region is accelerating with rail from Tavan Tolgoi to be extended south to China and east to connect with the Trans-Mongolian Railway at Sainshand.

Preliminary work to be undertaken by field investigations in 2015 will include surface mapping and sampling to enable drill hole identification.

Aspire and the ECJV have been reviewing prospective coking coal basins in Mongolia where Aspire has been established for more than six years. The strategy has been on identifying prospective newly available exploration licence areas where there is access to either existing or intended rail and road infrastructure for near-term mine development projects.

Such projects will complement the work being undertaken on the northern Mongolian Nuurstei Coking Coal Project as a pre-rail start up and the much larger and world-class Ovoot Coking Coal Project that is reliant on the availability of rail connectivity to the existing Mongolian rail network.

Aspire has an option to acquire Noble’s 50% interest in the ECJV exercisable to March 2016.

Aspire’s managing director David Paull says “We are very pleased to have been able to acquire these prospective coking coal exploration licences through the ECJV. They were identified after an exhaustive prioritization undertaken by both Noble and Aspire geologists. Should coking coal deposits be identified in these license areas there are a number of export existing and intended transport options to support the development of coking coal operations in the near term.

“Aspire believes that Mongolian coal exports to China will continue to grow as China seeks to diversify away from reliance on the seaborne trade and the aim is to position ourselves as a key strategic supplier of quality coking coals into the Chinese market.

“Our aim is to continue to identify additional opportunities in Mongolia. We believe that these opportunities are consistent with, and complementary to our existing strategy on advancing towards developing the Nuurstei and Ovoot coking coal projects and the Erdenet to Ovoot railway,” he says.

The Mongolian Government has recently re-opened its Cadastre Division of the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia to accept new applications for exploration licences. Changes to the Mongolian Minerals Law have also extended exploration licence tenure up to 12 years.
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