ASPIRE Mining has received an expression of interest to fund a modular Coal Handling and Processing Plant (CHPP) at Nuurstei Coking Coal Project. The interest has come from ODDO BHF, a German private bank and financial services group.

While the terms and conditions will be negotiated and approved following final confirmation of Nuurstei’s economic feasibility, the funding is likely to be done under Hermes Fund cover. This is a German Government backed export credit agency, which has been involved in substantial financings in Mongolia.

Nuurstei is majority owned by the Ekhoviin Chuluu Joint Venture (ECJV) in which Aspire holds 50%. The ASX-listed company has recently entered into an agreement with ECJV partner Noble Group to exercise its option to acquire the remaining 50% of the JV. Noble is one of Aspire’s major shareholders and financiers, and the agreement will increase Aspire’s Nuurstei interest to 90%.

Noble’s stake will be acquired for cash consideration of US$1 million and the grant of a royalty in respect to future production of saleable Nuurstei coking coal. The consideration can be satisfied through the issue of US$1 million in equity securities.

The agreement will also result in Aspire restructuring existing debt and interest obligations.

In connection with these transactions, Spectral Investments, a company associated with substantial shareholders Neil Lithgow and Bat-Erdene Khadbaasan, has agreed to convert amounts drawn down by the company under a short-term debt facility into equity.

Each of these transactions is subject to Aspire completing a proposed capital raising and the approval of shareholders being obtained at a general meeting expected in July.

ECJV has been notified that the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia (MRAM) has approved Nuurstei’s registration, an important procedural step in the application and issuance of a mining licence.

It allows ECJV to lodge the General Environmental Impact Assessment and on acceptance, pay application and licence fees for issuance of a mining licence. Granting of a mining licence provides tenure over a deposit for an initial 30 years with up to two additional 20-year extensions if needed.

ECJV has also received a preliminary wash plant design study, which confirms the use of heavy medium separation along with spirals as an effective and accurate methodology for ash removal.