Coal explorer Aspire Mining (ASX: AKM) has announced “outstanding” results from pilot coke oven testing of a bulk coal sample taken near its Nuurstei coking coal project in Mongolia.
The testing was undertaken by ALS Laboratories at their Wacol Queensland facilities in Australia, with the results returned to Aspire on Friday.
The test work was completed on a 300kg washed sample of coal taken from a shallow open pit adjacent to the Nuurstei mining licence in northern Mongolia. According to Aspire, the sample is indicative of the coal expected to be produced from the Nuurstei project.
Aspire claims testing delivered high quality results based on the sample’s coke strength reactivity (CSR) and coke reactivity index (CRI).
CSR is a standard test of coke value in use. The higher the number, the harder the coke and the greater the iron ore charge that it can support in a blast furnace.
Prime hard coking coals are generally specified at 68 to 72 CSR. According to Aspire, its Nuurstei-adjacent sample returned a CSR of 78, with the high result confirmed in repeated testing.
The CRI is a test of the coke reactivity, which indicates the material’s potential to break down in a reducing atmosphere. The lower the number the better.
This test’s CRI was 14.6. This very low index is consistent with the very high CSR result, Aspire stated.
According to the company, the results confirmed the presence of premium hard coking coal at Nuurstei which, once washed, would be very competitive against the best available coking coals on the market.
“These coke results demonstrate that coal from Nuurstei will be potentially sought after by Japanese and Korean steel producers, as well as from Chinese steel mills where higher quality inputs into the steel industry are being sought,” Aspire executive chairman David Paull said.
“It also demonstrates that Mongolia can supply premium coking coals to the world’s steel industry,” he added.
Aspire holds a 90% interest in the Nuurstei coking coal project.
The company is working towards an initial road-based production operation as the project is close to existing infrastructure (town, road, rail and services), although it hopes to eventually connect the project to the proposed Erdenet to Ovoot Railway.
The development of the Erdenet to Ovoot Railway is being pursued by rail infrastructure company Northern Railways, which is supported by a consortium of companies including Aspire Mining and subsidiaries of Fortune 500-listed Chinese railway companies.
Aspire shares were up 4.35% to A$0.024 on today’s news by afternoon trade.