ERDENET Mining Corp (EMC) has commissioned a plant expansion at its Erdenet Copper Project in northern Mongolia that will increase the output of copper concentrates by more than 20%. A statement on the President of Mongolia’s website said that annual copper output would increase from about 119,000 tonnes to about 145,000 tonnes while copper concentrate production will increase by 113,000 tonnes to almost 630,000 tonnes.

The statement was placed on the website after the President, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, visited the project on June 20 for the opening of the plant expansion.

The expanded plant will annually process 32 million tonnes, which is 6 million tonnes more than in 2014, while 33 more workers will be hired at the plant, taking total numbers of 1082. He said that total income from copper concentrate would be up by 240 billion tugrik from 1.3 trillion tugrik and the tax to the government budget would be up by 73 billion tugrik from 462 billion tugrik.

During his visit the President also presented some workers from the corporation with State Merit Titles. Project administrator of the EMC concentrate plant R Delger and a worker at the plant, R Bayar, were awarded with the State Merit Worker in Industry for their significant contribution to the extension work of corporation. President Elbegdorj also awarded some EMC workers with the State Orders and Medals of Mongolia.

The ore body of the copper-molybdenum deposit is in the Erdenetiin-Ovoo area and stretches east-west. It is 25km in length and 1.5-3km in width and consists of four main parts. The length of the primary pit is about 2500 metres, the width is about1500 metres, the lowest level is at 1265 metres above sea level and the depth is about 120 metres. The top of the mount was 1606 metres above sea level in the initial period of operation.

Mining and transporting of ore from the pit is carried out using Liebherr hydraulic excavators, Russian chain excavators, chain and wheeled bulldozers, wheeled loaders and motograders. The operations utilize equipment from Liebherr, Komatsu and Caterpillar while blasting is carried out by Orica subsidiary Orika Exsel using remote control blasting devices and apparatus from Rothenbuhler Engineering, USA.

Collective flotation methods are used with the copper and molybdenum concentrate extracted using a separation process. Waste pulp from the concentration process is compressed to the disposal pond. The precipitated water in the pond is recycled for technological processes.

Zuun Mod due diligence extended

Tian Poh Resources and Erdene Resource Development Corp have agreed to a 30-day extension to the due diligence Tian Poh is carrying out on the Zuun Mod Molybdenum-Copper Project in southern Mongolia. The parties have agreed to extend the option for Tian Poh to acquire a stake in the project until July 11.

On February 15 this year Tian Poh announced that it had secured an exclusive option until June 11 to acquire 51% of Zuun Mod from Erdene. Completion of the transaction was subject to Tian Poh obtaining shareholder approval and both companies obtaining regulatory approvals. Tian Poh obtained shareholder approval on May 22.

The agreement contains a further option to acquire the remaining 49% stake.

Tian Poh raised $1.62 million via the issue of 9 million ordinary shares during the March quarter and also began a drilling program in March that extended into the June quarter. The drilling program has included Tian Poh’s Khangailand projects and Mandal Urgukh projects, all in the South Gobi.

Newera withdraws from coal JV

Newera Resources has withdrawn from a joint venture which intended to explore and develop the Ulaan Tolgoi Coal Project. The withdrawal followed a review of recent exploration within the project.

Armed with the knowledge that despite the identification of interpreted potentially coal bearing sub-basins and a more recent interpretation that potential mineral bearing intrusions may exist below significant cover in the northern sector of the licence, Newera late last year acknowledged that any future exploration within the Ulaan Tolgoi licence, would remain high risk greenfield exploration.

In addition, in order to maintain the Ulaan Tolgoi Joint Venture, Newera was facing a significant annual statutory licence fee immediately payable to the Mongolian Department.

Lower Boroo gold production

Centerra Gold reported lower production at Boroo Gold Project during the first quarter of 2015 as a result of no milling activities. The mine produced 6411 ounces compared to 13,736 ounces in the same period of 2014.

Boroo milled the last of its stockpiled ore in December 2014 and as a result of the mill shutdown, the company recovered 3595 ounces from cleaning of the gold circuit. In addition fewer ounces were poured from the heap leach operation as a result of transitioning to 100% secondary leaching from August 2014 compared to primary leaching previously.

Although the Gatsuurt project was designated as a mineral deposit of strategic importance by the Mongolian Parliament, the project remains under care and maintenance. The company expects that Parliament will consider a new proposal for the level of state ownership in the project or the rate of the special royalty.

Coal downturn hits MMC

Mongolian Mining Corp (MMC) is struggling to cope with the impacts of high costs and low coal prices, and according to Moody’s Investors Service, could exhaust its cash supply by the end of 2015.

The ratings company said that MMC may spend the $253 million of cash it had at the end of last year by December 31. It said revenue and sales volumes were falling as the average price of hard coking coal declined. The company replenished cash with a HK$1.56 billion (US$201 million) rights issue last December.

Earlier this year Mongolian Mining reported a loss of $282.8 million for 2014, including an impairment of $190 million on mining rights, as margins shrunk and transport costs to customers in China increased.

Viking in Berkh Uul discussions

After selling its Akoase Gold Project in Ghana during June, Viking Mines hopes to concentrate its efforts on progressing the Berkh Uul Coal Project in Mongolia.

The Mongolian Government has been reviewing and amending the Law on Prohibiting Mineral Exploration and Extraction near Water Sources, Protected Areas and Forests. Following a number of government announcements, including a Resolution that licence areas in headwater zones and river basins are to be annexed and revoked, Viking was advised by the Ministry of Tourism, Green Development and Environment that approximately 53% of the Berk Uul prospecting licence falls within a headwaters of rivers zone.

This government determination may impact upon the company’s current coal resource and Viking has been invited to commence discussions on this matter with the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia.

Notwithstanding this, the company is continuing its engagement of Mongolian specialist consultants to progress the Berkh Uul mining lease application process.

Modun moves from coal to software

Modun Resources, which held the Nuurst Thermal Coal Project in central Mongolia, has signed an agreement to buy Microsoft partner LiveTiles Holdings, an Australian-founded Office 365 software firm. The deal values LiveTiles at $33.75 million, with 225 million Modun shares to be issued to LiveTiles shareholders.

Modun will change its name to LiveTiles Limited and expects to re-list on the Australian Securities Exchange in July, depending on various conditions including shareholder approval and due diligence on both sides.

While the LiveTiles headquarters is in New York, the company’s history lies in the Australian IT channel. The firm was established in 2012 by the founders of Office 365, Azure and SharePoint consultancy nSynergy, which was itself bought by cloud licensing provider Rhipe in December. Rhipe has the rights to bundle LiveTiles solutions with Office 365 via Its 1500 partner channel.

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