Aspiring to a better plan

MONGOLIA-focused Aspire Mining said its June quarterly that company efforts were concentrated on advancing the Ovoot coking coal project in the country’s remote north and developing the infrastructure necessary to open the region’s coal to world markets.

Staff Reporter
Aspiring to a better plan

The report confirmed the explorer had so far spent $22 million on the discovery and development of Ovoot and updated the tenement’s total coal resource base to 252Mt.

The proposed open pit, which has been described by Aspire as the third largest coking coal reserve in the country with “very positive” cashflow potential, is perhaps most inhibited by its extreme remoteness in the far north of landlocked Mongolia.

An independent review of the rail prefeasibility for a line from Ovoot to the city of Erdenet shows bypassing nearby Moron is the most cost-effective option.

The study, conducted by Calibre Rail for Aspire Mining and its Mongolian rail infrastructure subsidiary Northern Railways, found the direct non-Moron route would save $US188 million.

The review also identified the potential to significantly reduce operating costs over the life of the project that would be further explored in the second iteration of the rail PFS.

Possible changes to some of the operational parameters used in the rail PFS could result in additional capacity of eight million tonnes per annum for other users to access.

Calibre reviewed the 406km multi-user rail alignment from Erdenet to Moron and the 222km spur line connecting to the Ovoot project and a number of other options.

Its review confirmed the alignment between Erdenet and Moron as being the most efficient, with some minor modifications.

However, it also addressed what would be the most efficient path for the Ovoot coal.

It led Calibre to suggest an alternative alignment 50km to the south of Moron, which it believed could provide substantial savings.

It said this would cut the distance the coal would have to travel by 47km.

More importantly, it would cut capital expenditure by $188 million due to the significantly more agreeable terrain. This option would have a reduced need for tunnels, bridges and other design complexities.

A 57km spur line from the main Ovoot to Edernet line would be needed to connect to Moron, should this be justified.

Alternatively, sealed road access from Moron to the main line could handle the forecast volume of freight and passengers.

Calibre estimates two locomotive and 100-wagon consists are possible between Ovoot and Edernet, which would increase the availability of capacity for other users. The rail PFS had assumed a 50-wagon consist.

Using larger trains will bring fuel savings of about 11% per tonne of coal transported, as well as lower locomotive leasing and maintenance costs.

The alternative alignment, its capital and operating costs will be reviewed in more detail in a second iteration of the rail PFS that is due to start soon.


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