* Mongolia regarded as top copper exploration ground
* Mongolia needs foreign investment
LONDON, March 7 Canadian miner Kincora Copper
plans over coming months to start exploration drilling
in Mongolia, its CEO told Reuters, calling the area "one of the
last frontiers" for top quality copper assets.
With technologies such as electric vehicles expected to
stoke demand, the mining industry is keen to discover copper
reserves as existing mines get depleted.
Kincora's CEO Sam Spring compared Mongolia to Chile, the
world's largest copper producer, in the 1970s when it was still
under-explored and said he hoped to find another Oyu Tolgoi,
using a team with experience of finding tier-one copper assets.
Last year Rio Tinto gave the go-ahead for a
$5.3 billion expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi mine in the South Gobi
desert, one of the world's largest copper deposits.
"In the upcoming months, Kincora is looking to drill two
targets," Spring said in a telephone interview.
One -- named Bayan Tal -- is the first identified since Oyu
Tolgoi with similar geology. The other -- East Tsagaan Suvarga
-- is in the same mineral system as the existing Tsagaan Suvarga
mine, included in the government's list of strategic mineral
So far Kincora has 10 licences, giving it acreage of 15,000
square kilometres (5,800 square miles), and has applied for two
more. Spring says the company has overtaken Rio "as the most
aggressive group" exploring in this area.
Mongolia, almost entirely dependent on coal and copper for
foreign export earnings, needs international investment
following an IMF-led loan agreement.
It has said it plans to double the amount of land available
for exploration of raw materials.
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Additional reporting by Susan
Taylor in Toronto; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)