Genghis Khan, the most famous of all Mongolians, is known for
creating the worlds largest empire in the 13th century,
stretching from Poland in the west, to Korea in the east, and
from Siberia in the north to the Gulf of Oman and Vietnam in
|A statue of Genghis Khan, the most famous of all
Image: Ludovic Hirlimann
Khan, famed for his brutality,
should also be recognised for creating the worlds the
first trade route, the Yam courier system.
This system, known as The Silk
Road, opened the region to trade and information, providing a
passage between Asia and Europe.
And, as present-day companies have
discovered, this trading principle still functions, with
Mongolia both encouraging and facilitating foreign
The countrys largest export
is copper, followed by apparel, livestock, animal products and
cashmere, according to Economy Watch. Its major export
partners are China, Canada, UK, and Luxembourg.
Fluorspar, although slightly
further down the list, is also seen as an important future
Mongolia produced 420,000 tpa in
2012, according to the United States Geological Survey
It is the third-largest producer in
the world, with most of its supply feeding China and
In fact, insufficient
transportation infrastructure means Mongolias only
markets for fluorspar are these two countries, largely via the
Trans-Mongolian Railway, which connects China (at Zamyn-Uud)
and Russia (at the Altanbulag port).
While Mongolian production has
recently stuttered as global demand has fallen, most market
commentators believe that the market will pick up.
Prima-ed for a great deal
Vancouver-based Prima Fluorspar
signed a letter of intent (LOI) in September with New York, US
fund Firebird Management - which holds a 99.8% majority stake
in Berkh Uul JSC, owners of the Delgerkhan fluorspar mine.
The acquisition of the
Delgerkhan mine positions Prima to become a major global
fluorspar producer and supplier, CEO Robert Bick told
The deposit holds almost 10m tonnes
of ore grading 33.47% CaF2.
The Delgerkhan fluorspar mine has
an interesting history, having worked as a fluorspar mine since
the 1950s, with approximately 90,000 metres drilled in the
period between 1950-2000.
Delgerkhan is one of the
largest in the world, James Passin, fund manager at
Firebird, told IM. Passin has been developing
the mine since 2011.
We have been working on
drilling the deposit to produce an NI 43-101 compliant
resource. There is fluorspar that we would intend to produce
through an open-cast mine. The rest of the deposit will be
produced by underground mining by rehabilitating the existing
shafts, he told IM.
Historically, the mine produced
metallurgical-grade fluorspar (metspar), but Firebird believes
theres potential to build a flotation plant and
produce acid grade as well as metspar.
The next steps for the project are
to dewater and remediate the existing mine infrastructure, with
a target date of Q4 2014 for first production, at a run rate of
Mongolia Minerals Corp.
Mongolia Minerals Corp. is
developing its Dai Uul project in the Dornogovi Province. The
project is not as advanced as Firebirds, but it recently
increased its reserve estimation.
The company underwent an extensive
drilling campaign in 2012 to enlarge the existing reserve base,
and is working towards establishing a JORC-complaint
It bears noting that under
the Mongolian reserve code, to be included in reserve
calculations, reserve blocks need to have an average grade of
25% CaF2 or above, which is higher than typical
international norms, James Rodriguez de Castro, managing
director, told IM.
Testwork is currently underway to
explore the possibility of recovering additional fluorspar by
including lower-grade ore into the economically exploitable
reserves through pre-concentration.
Both Passin and Rodriguez de Castro
agree that developing a project in Mongolia has cost
We have a huge cost advantage on the existing
infrastructure and mining assets, which will allow us to get to
production without having to invest a lot of capital, compared
to a lot of other large fluorspar deposits, Passin