Aspire Mining, Noble enter into Mongolian coking coal joint venture

Aspire Mining and international trading house Noble Group have agreed to jointly explore and develop the Nuurstei coking coal project in northern Mongolia.

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Aspire will acquire Xanadu Mines’ 50% stake in the Ekhgoviin Chuluu joint venture (ECJV), which was formed with Noble. The joint venture has a 60% interest in the Nuurstei project, and has the option to raise the stake to 90%.

“The transaction fits neatly within Aspire’s strategy to explore and develop Mongolian metallurgical coal projects, and the opportunity to do so jointly with the Noble Group serves to enhance the existing strategic alliance between the two firms […],” Aspire said on Friday June 13.

Noble will retain its 50% interest in the ECJV, along with marketing rights over all Nuurstei production, according to the statement.

The Nuurstei project – located just 10km from the northern Mongolian city Moron – is within a “relatively short trucking distance” to the proposed Northern Rail Line being developed by Aspire’s infrastructure subsidiary Northern Railways.

In addition to potentially being an initial customer for the Northern Rail Line, Nuurstei could see its products becoming “a useful blending partner” for Aspire’s Ovoot coking coals, the Australia Securities Exchange-listed miner said.

Initial test work showed Nuurstei project contains low-volatile bitumous coal with mid-to-high ash levels and low sulphur.

Aspire has plans for production at the Ovoot project to commence in 2018 subject to funding, approvals, licences and construction of rail infrastructure. Ovoot’s initial capacity is 5 million tpy.