The four MoUs total a possible purchase of up to 5.6Mtpa of coking coal, which represents nearly all of the planned total saleable production from stage one of the mine.
It is good news for the company, which said it had only just begun an initial stage of marketing and approached just half of the Chinese target market to date.
“Aspire has also met with many other large-scale potential Chinese customers as well as steel mills and coke producers in Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe, which have indicated additional significant buying interest,” the company said in an announcement Wednesday.
Aspire’s managing director David Paull said the company was pleased with the initial interest, especially considering the short time it had been marketing its product.
“It is clear that interest in north Asia is substantial and well in excess of the potential volume of sales from our first stage of development at Ovoot indicated by the non-binding MOU’s signed to date,” Paull said.
Aspire has completed coke oven test work on an indicative bulk sample of Ovoot coking coal. It confirmed that when used as part of a coke oven feed blend, the coal could replace the use of hard coking coals and improve the caking ability of lower-quality coking coals and coke breeze, a recycled coke oven residue.
Within the Chinese market, Ovoot Project coking coal falls within the clean fat coal specification, a category of coking coal that is highly valued and in short supply in China, Aspire said.
Fat coal is used in China to blend with lower-quality, lower-caking coals to replace hard coking coals in coke batches, therefore reducing batch costs and reliance on the seaborne-traded hard coking coals.
The Ovoot coking coal project is in northern Mongolia and 100% owned by Aspire.
The company completed a prefeasibility study for the project last year and is targeting a large-scale open pit mine with production of upto 12Mtpa over a 20-year mine life.
First production is targeted for 2016, with the company successfully receiving a mining licence for the project last year.