Australian-listed Junior resource company, Aspire Mining Limited (ASX: AKM) by virtue of its robust project portfolio in mineral-rich Mongolia appears to be at a vantage point. Mongolia, a landlocked country sharing its borders with China and Russia, is celebrated for its abundant coal reserves. At the same time, it also hosts other minerals such as copper, gold, iron ore, lead, and molybdenum.
In a significant strategic development, Mongolia in 2014 signed several tripartite infrastructure agreements with Russia and China, encapsulating the upliftment of its rail infrastructure and upgrading border crossing. The three countries signed a further memorandum in mid-2015 for building a trilateral Economic Corridor through Mongolia.
Mongolia’s proximity to China, which is the largest coal importer, and the country’s extensive resource base has poised Mongolian economy for substantial growth in the coming years. It particularly favours Aspire Mining’s Ovoot Coking Coal Project (OCCP) to leverage off the budding opportunities in the metallurgical coal market.
With this backdrop, let us explore the economic significance of trilateral Economic Corridor and how Aspire Mining’s project pipeline and strategic endeavours are garnered towards harnessing the lucrative opportunities.
Commercial Relevance of Trilateral Economic Corridor
In addition to the Memorandum compiling a guideline for building a trilateral Economic Corridor through Mongolia, the Governments of Russia, China, and Mongolia also signed framework agreements. The agreements cover the facilitation of international trade along the Economic Corridors. They also encapsulate cooperation for ports of entry between the three countries.
The Trilateral Economic Corridor is expected to expand the levels of Mongolian commerce with China and Russia. Furthermore, it would also boost land-based trade between Central Asia and Europe, supplementing Mongolia the opportunity to expand its trade partners.
Significantly, world-renowned China’s New Silk Road along with Russian rail planning and Mongolian Rail Policy is integrated with the Economic Corridor.
Mongolian economy is anticipated to benefit significantly from the new rail infrastructure, which would open the nation’s access to global export markets. It would not only unlock its natural resources but would also accelerate the development of other industries such as agriculture, raw materials, manufacturing, tourism, etc.
Ovoot Project Advancing Well
Aligning with the infrastructure-oriented direction of the Economic Corridor, Ovoot Early Development Plan (OEDP) consists of the Special Purpose road development plan. The 560-kilometre special road is garnered towards trucking washed coking coal up to 4 million tonnes per annum. It would also divert truck traffic from an existing sealed road, aiding the local communities to use the road conveniently without the traffic hassles.
Khuvsgul airmag Government studied Mogoin Gol (Ovoot) to Erdenet road alignment during March 2020 Quarter and had incorporated it in airmag’s 2030 Road Development Plan.
Off late, Aspire Mining was committed to the evaluation of a phased development plan scenario. It was aimed towards the reduction of upfront capital costs and logistics chain risks for getting into commercial production at the earliest opportunity once access to the OCCP is granted.
Meanwhile, Aspire Mining continues to productively engage local communities and Tsetserleg soum Government, where the project is located eyeing to gain the necessary approvals to advance the OEDP Definitive Feasibility Study.
Strategic Focus of Nuurstei Coking Coal Project
Aspire Mining holds 90% interests in the Nuurstei Coking Coal Project located in Northern Mongolia, approximately 160 km east of the Ovoot project. The project is stationed around 10 km from Khuvsgul provincial capital of Moron, which via the sealed road has been connected to the nearest rail head at Erdenet.
Aspire Mining is currently evaluating the project as a near-term mine development, oriented towards producing a washed hard coking.
Significantly, the Company holds mining licence covering the Nuurstei resource area, where the previous drilling identified modest JORC Coal Resources of 4.7 Mt of indicated and 8.1 Mt of inferred.
Aspire Mining’s project pipeline including Ovoot and Nuurstei Coking coal project, having access to sealed road holds a significant infrastructural advantage. Alongside, Northern Railways LLC held 80% by Aspire Mining is focussed towards Erdenet to Ovoot Railway Project. While the Company is engaged in uplifting the transportation facilities around its project, Trilateral Economic Corridor would further streamline the conveyance of the project’s coal resource in the global market.
Notably, as on 21 September 2020, AKM stock closed the day’s trade flat at $0.079. The stock has generated a price return of 27.42% in the past six months.
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