DRILLING by the Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture (ECJV) of Aspire Mining and Noble Group at the Nuurstei Coal Project has intersected many thick coal seams. The ECJV intends to use results from the drilling as part of a scoping study for the project.

The Nuurstei project is in Mongolia’s north, near a proposed new rail line.

The Nuurstei project is in Mongolia’s north, near a proposed new rail line.

Mobilization of two drill rigs to the site occurred in late July and about 40 non-core and PQ diamond drill holes were planned for the drilling program which was expected to be completed by the end of September.

Up until late August the best coal intersections were found in one drill hole with cumulative apparent thickness intersections of 15.3 metres from 51.4 metres and 9.6 metres from 71.6 metres. The coal seams are consistently steeply dipping and banded. The thick coal packages in this hole are suspected to be structurally thickened by reverse faults that have repeated the coal seams. The exact fault geometry is unknown at this stage.

The ECJV prepared the 2015 drilling program with the aim of increasing confidence levels in coal seam correlation and establishing coal resources that can be reported in accordance to the 2012 JORC Code. The definition of resources that can be reported in accordance to JORC would enable the ECJV to also proceed with application for a mining licence.

All proposed PQ diamond drill holes were drilled to collect coal samples to be sent to laboratories for coal quality analysis. These tests are designed to confirm if coal coking characteristics of coal are present across the deposit. The results of core sampled in 2014 suggested the presence of coking coal at Nuurstei.

Nuurstei is near the capital town of Moron in Mongolia’s Khuvsgul province and alongside the Erdenet to Ovoot railway which is being developed by Aspire subsidiary, Northern Railways LLC. Given its strategic position close to infrastructure such as Moron, power, sealed road and existing rail at Erdenet, Nuurstei could be a near-term development opportunity.

While initial production could be transported from the mine site to the Erdenet rail siding by road, Nuurstei coal would have access to the Erdenet to Ovoot railway within approximately two years of commencement of its construction and thereby become one of the first users of this railway.

The Mongolian Government has resolved to enter into a concession agreement with Northern Railways, and a consortium comprising Aspire and Fortune-500 listed China Railway Construction Corporation subsidiaries, for the construction of the railway that could commence as early as 2017.