The company is advancing plans for a 560-kilometre special-purpose road to transport coal from the Ovoot Early Development Project (OEDP) to the nearest railhead at Erdenet.
A Definitive Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) is also being advanced for the OEDP in accordance with World Bank’s International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) ‘Equator Principles’.
Pending approval for the DEIA and the annual mine plan, mine site activities can begin prior to completing the OEDP definitive feasibility study (DFS).
The OEDP will include an open pit development of the Ovoot Coking Coal Project and trucking up to 4 million tonnes annually of washed coking coal along the special-purpose road to Erdenet.
A major recent development with the road has been its inclusion in the 2030 Road Development Plan for the Khuvsgul aimag (province).
Benefits of road
This road will have two major benefits for local communities along its path:
- It will allow for a 200 kilometres sealed road connection between the Mogoin Gol community (adjacent to Ovoot) and the Khuvsgul capital of Murun.
- It will ensure that coal transport from Murun to Erdenet will be along the purpose-built road, removing truck traffic from an existing sealed road which is dedicated to local and tourist traffic between the two cities.
A November 2019 pre-feasibility study update for the OEDP included a construction cost estimate of US$165 million for the road which makes up two-thirds of the total OEDP development capital cost of US$259 million.
Aspire began a definitive engineering study in the March quarter of 2019 but fieldwork was put on hold while local approvals regarding the preferred route were received from the 13 soums along the expected road path.
While approvals were received from two soums the other five soums required the Khuvsgul aimag government to approve the path within the province.
The alignment was studied by the aimag government and it has now been included in the Khuvsgul 2030 Road Development Plan.
This approval allows for community engagement with each of the soums along the path to gain final Ministry approval for the alignment and completion of the definitive engineering study.
Engagement with communities
Aspire is also continuing productive engagement with the local Tsetserleg soum government and communities where the Ovoot project is located in order to gain the necessary approvals to progress the OEDP DFS.
A key approval is to be received from the Ministry of Environment for the DEIA which includes local stakeholder information sharing and engagement, flora and fauna surveys, ethnological surveys and social impact assessments.
Management and mitigation plans for the OEDP will be submitted in the approvals process.
The scope of the DEIA will address all 10 of the IFC ‘Equator Principles’ for responsible and sustainable resource developments and this will satisfy funding conditions from international commercial and multi-lateral banks.
The company is targeting the June 2020 quarter for the DEIA completion.
Donated feed collection in Tsetserlag soum.
Aspire continues to be a positive contributor to local communities, including a recent supply of 80 tonnes of feed at the request of local government for local herder communities which have received large snowfalls this year, resulting in major livestock losses.
Aspire is looking to complete the DFS for the OEDP, the timing of which is subject to receiving key permits and approvals and completion of a number of technical studies.
Approval of the DEIA will allow for the commencement of site works and the completion of these technical studies required for the DFS.