The Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture (ECJV) between Aspire Mining and Noble Group has commenced its 2015 exploration program at the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project in northern Mongolia.

Mobilization of staff, contractors, equipment and a drill rig to site has occurred and the exploration program is under way. ECJV has budgeted a US$1.5 million spend on the program throughout the remainder of the year.

The exploration will include about 40 core and PQ diamond drill holes targeted at establishing a maiden JORC 2012 compliant coal resource at Nuurstei.

Additional test work will also be carried out with the aim of confirming coal quality across the deposit. A single core hole drilled in 2014 in the centre of the deposit indicated the presence of high quality hard coking coal. ECJV also plans to carry out a scoping study, pending positive results from the program.

The ECJV is a 50/50 joint venture arrangement between ASX-listed Aspire and Singapore’s Noble Group. Aspire is the operator of the JV and has an option to purchase Noble’s 50% interest, exercisable by March 2016.

ECJV considers Nuurstei to have near-term development potential, being only 10km from the Khuvsgul provincial capital of Moron and within trucking distance to the existing rail head at Erdenet along a sealed road. This allows the project to be potentially developed as a road based operation.

The project could also be one of the first users of the Erdenet-Ovoot railway which is being progressed by Aspire’s subsidiary, Northern Railways LLC. This company is well into negotiations with the Government of Mongolia for a concession to allow construction and operation of the railway. Nuurstei could access the railway prior to its full commissioning, as the first section of rail could be completed and available for use within two years from commencement of rail construction.

Pending the results of the current exploration program and scoping study, a development decision for Nuurstei could be made as early as next year.

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