The Mongolia’s National Development Agency has approved an 18-month extension to the preparation for the Erdenet to Ovoot railway concession agreement, reports Aspire Mining.

The Mongolian metallurgical coal explorer and infrastructure company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, Aspire Mining, announced the extension on January 6. Aspire Mining received an exclusive 30-year concession from the government to build and operate the Erdenet to Ovoot railway through its subsidiary, Northern Railways LLC, in August 2015.

The preparation work that will take place in the 18-month extension include feasibility studies, environmental studies and permits, land use agreements, and commercial agreements, including the EPC Contract and its funding. Northern Railways has until August 2018 to complete all the conditions precedent for the Erdenet to Ovoot railway project.

Existing land use issues regarding the railway has been resolved by the Cabinet, which approved Northern Railways’ plan to alter the alignment as it approached Erdenet to avoid a potential overlap with other infrastructure. This opened the way for approval for the extension in accordance with the rail concession agreement. Engineering works performed as part of the plan shows that the alternative alignment does not add to the capital or operating costs of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway, according to the company.

On January 9, Aspire announced that Northern Railways had received the first stage of the feasibility study from China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group Co Ltd (a subsidiary of China Rail Construction Corporation) that confirmed that the Erdenet to Ovoot railway is financially feasible and recommended the immediate commencement of its construction.

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