March 7, 2017 / 6:18 PM / a year ago

Canadian miner Kincora leads Mongolian copper rush

* Mongolia regarded as top copper exploration ground

* Mongolia needs foreign investment

LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - 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 deposits.

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)

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