Aspire Mining has signed an offtake agreement with joint venture partner Noble Group for supply of coal from the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project in northern Mongolia. The agreement covers the first six months of anticipated production in 2018.

Nuurstei is 90%-owned by the Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture (ECJV), a 50:50 joint venture between Aspire and Noble, giving Aspire a 45% interest in the project. Aspire has the option to increase its ownership to 90% through the payment of $1 million and royalties.

Nuurstei has a JORC-compliant resource of 4.75 million tonnes in the indicated category and 8.1 million tonnes in the inferred category.

A 400kg bulk sample of raw coal is being transported to toll washing facilities in China to produce washed hard coking coal marketing samples.

Nuurstei can be viewed as a starter project which assists with the development of Aspire’s much larger and 100% owned Ovoot Coking Coal Project which is 160km further to the west. Nuurstei’s status has been enhanced by the offtake agreement, which also provides Aspire with an opportunity for early cash flow.

The deal with Noble is significant given its role as a large exporter of Mongolian coals into Chinese markets facilitating transport through to end customers.

Aspire’s managing director David Paull said, “The offtake agreement with Noble Group is an important step in the continuing commercialisation of the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project.”

Aspire recently signed an MoU with a Mongolian government agency to mine and purchase raw coal from a coal mine adjacent to its Nuurstei. Analysis of this mine has indicated that it has similar hard coking coal qualities to Nuurstei even though the coal is being sold for local thermal consumption.

The strategy is to wash this purchased coal at Nuurstei for delivery of a washed coking coal to customers in China.

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