Tag Archives: Mongolia

Monadelphous receives work with Rio Tinto and Talison Lithium

Monadelphous Group says it has secured new contracts in the resources sector totalling approximately A$100 million ($70 million), which includes work on the Oyu Tolgoi underground project, the Greenbushes lithium mine and the Marandoo iron ore mine.

At Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia, Monadelphous is to construct surface infrastructure for the underground project. The work includes construction of two conveyors and an electrical substation, and associated integration to existing facilities.

Monadelphous has been operating in Mongolia since 2017 and will continue its focus on upskilling its Mongolian national employees as a key element of the contract execution strategy, Monadelphous said.

In addition, the company has been awarded a contract with Talison Lithium Australia for the construction of a range of facilities associated with the mine services area at its Greenbushes mine site in the southwest of Western Australia. The work, which includes structural, mechanical, piping and electrical and instrumentation services, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023.

Monadelphous’ fabrication business, SinoStruct, has secured a contract to fabricate over 2,000 t of structural steel for a construction project in Ashburton in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Work is expected to be completed in early 2023.

Also in the Pilbara region, Monadelphous has been awarded a contract with Rio Tinto for the upgrade of conveyor facilities at the Marandoo iron ore mine. Site works are scheduled to commence in early 2023 and are expected to be completed in the March quarter of 2024.

Rio, TRQ and Mongolia agree on Oyu Tolgoi Underground development path

Rio Tinto, Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) and the Government of Mongolia have reached an agreement that, Rio says, will move the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) project forward, resetting the relationship between the partners and increasing the value the project delivers for Mongolia.

As a result, the OT Board, comprised of representatives of Rio Tinto, TRQ and Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi (EOT), the latter of which is wholly owned by the Government of Mongolia, has unanimously approved commencement of underground operations. This step unlocks the most valuable part of the mine and is expected to begin in the coming days, with first sustainable production expected in the first half of 2023, according to Rio Tinto.

As part of a comprehensive package, TRQ will waive the $2.4 billion EOT carry account loan in full, comprising the amount of common share investments in OT LLC funded by TRQ on behalf of EOT to build the project to date, plus accrued interest.

The Parliament of Mongolia has approved a resolution (Resolution 103) that resolves the outstanding issues that have been subject to negotiations with the Government of Mongolia over the last two years in relation to addressing Parliament Resolution 92 (December 2019).

With this approval, the Parliament of Mongolia has required that certain measures be completed in order for Resolution 92 to be considered formally implemented. Among the measures already addressed are improved cooperation with EOT, implementation of measures to monitor OT underground development financing mechanisms and enhance ESG matters and the approval of the Electricity Supply Agreement.

Rio says it is continuing to work with the Government of Mongolia and TRQ to finalise the remaining outstanding measures of Resolution 92, namely the formal termination of the Oyu Tolgoi Mine Development and Financing Plan (UDP) and resolution of the outstanding OT LLC tax arbitration.

An updated funding plan has been agreed to address TRQ’s current estimated remaining funding requirement for the OT Underground Project. Until sustainable underground production is achieved, OT will be funded by cash on hand and rescheduling of existing debt repayments, together with a pre-paid copper concentrate sales agreement with TRQ. This is in line with restrictions on debt financing contained in Resolution 103, passed on December 30, 2021.

Rio Tinto and TRQ have amended the Heads of Agreement signed in April 2021 to ensure they appropriately fund OT. The capital forecast for the project is $6.925 billion, including $175 million of known COVID-19 impacts to the end of 2021. Forecasted remaining underground capital expenditure is approximately $1.8 billion. A reforecast will be undertaken during the first half of this year to determine a revised cost and schedule estimate that will reflect:

  • Any further COVID-19 impacts;
  • Any additional time-based impacts and market price escalation arising from resequencing due to 2021 budget constraints (as a result of the OT Board not approving the capital budget uplift at the time the Definitive Estimate was finalised); and
  • Updated risk ranging reflecting the latest project execution risks.

The key elements under the amended Heads of Agreement include:

  • Pursuing the rescheduling of principal repayments of existing OT project finance to potentially reduce the OT funding requirement by up to $1.7 billion;
  • Seeking to raise up to $500 million of senior supplemental debt at OT from selected international financial institutions which could be put in place after sustainable underground production is achieved;
  • Rio Tinto providing a co-lending project finance facility to OT of up to $750 million to be made available after sustainable underground production is achieved (with up to $300 million of such amount being available under a short-term secured advance directly to TRQ pending such co-lending); and
  • TRQ agreeing to conduct equity or rights offerings of up to $1.5 billion (with an initial offering of at least $650 million by no later than August 31, 2022).

The re-profiling of the existing OT project finance and any additional senior supplemental debt at OT will be subject to availability and terms and conditions being acceptable to Rio Tinto and TRQ, according to the company.

The OT Board has also approved the signing of an Electricity Supply Agreement to provide OT with a long-term source of power from the Mongolian grid, under terms already agreed with the Government of Mongolia. In meeting OT’s commitment to sourcing power domestically, Rio Tinto will work with the Government to support long-term renewable energy generation in support of the Mongolian grid. The Government of Mongolia and OT are in constructive discussions with the Inner Mongolia Power International Cooperation Company (IMPIC) for an extension of current power import arrangements beyond the current agreement of July 2023. IMPIC has indicated its support for an extension and commercial terms are being finalised.

Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene, the Prime Minister of Mongolia, said: “The commencement of Oyu Tolgoi underground mining operations demonstrates to the world that Mongolia can work together with investors in a sustainable manner and become a trusted partner. As part of our ‘New Recovery Policy’, I am happy to express Mongolia’s readiness to work actively and mutually beneficially with global investors and partners.”

Rio Tinto Chief Executive, Jakob Stausholm, said: “We would like to thank the Government of Mongolia for their commitment to working productively with Rio Tinto and TRQ to reach this crucial agreement that will see one of the world’s largest copper growth projects move forward and firmly establish Mongolia as a global investment destination. This agreement represents a reset of our relationship and resolves historical issues between the OT project partners. We strongly believe in the future of this country and I am personally committed to ensuring that the people of Mongolia benefit strongly from OT along with our shareholders.

“I have visited Mongolia twice in the last few months and I cannot help but be proud of what has been achieved by our workforce, hand-in-hand with communities, suppliers and other partners. I would like to thank the many thousands of people involved for what they have achieved.

“The OT underground development will consolidate Rio Tinto’s position as a leading global supplier of copper at a time when demand is increasing, driven by its role in enabling decarbonisation and electrification in the race to net zero. We will also explore additional opportunities to decarbonise the OT operations, including sourcing renewable power.”

Steve Thibeault, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Turquoise Hill Resources, added: “Today is a landmark day for Turquoise Hill and a major milestone in the development of the Oyu Tolgoi underground development project. We are very excited to be starting work on the undercut, which is critical to unlocking the immense potential of this world-class, high-grade deposit for the benefit of all stakeholders. Following the agreements with the Government of Mongolia and the Amended Heads of Agreement with Rio Tinto being put in place, we now have greater certainty and confidence to complete construction of this once-in-a-generation mine that, when finished, is expected to be one of the largest copper producing mines in the world and a generator of vast economic value and employment in Mongolia and of returns for our shareholders for years to come. I want to thank the Government of Mongolia for its commitment to securing a balanced agreement that helps to advance the project while ensuring that all stakeholders including the people of Mongolia truly benefit from the development of this resource. This agreement says a lot about the positive environment for foreign investment in the country.”

By 2030 OT is expected to be the fourth largest copper mine in the world. It is a complex greenfield project comprising an underground block cave mine and copper concentrator as well as an open-pit mine which has been successfully operating for almost 10 years. It is also one of the most modern, safe, sustainable and water-efficient operations globally, with a workforce which is more than 96% Mongolian. Since 2010, OT has spent a total of $13.4 billion in-country, including $3.6 billion of taxes, fees and other payments to the state budget. The size and quality of this Tier 1 asset provides additional expansion options, which could see production sustained for many decades.

At peak production, OT is expected to produce around 500,000 t/y of copper on average from 2028 to 2036 from the open pit and underground, and an average of around 350,000 t for a further five years, compared with 163,000 t in 2021. The underground Ore Reserve has an average copper grade of 1.52%, which is more than three times higher than the open pit reserve, and contains 0.31 g/t Au.

Oyu Tolgoi adopts Cohda Wireless V2X vehicle positioning solution

Cohda Wireless is applying its vehicle positioning solution at the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia aiming to drive safety and productivity in an initiative that could pave the way for, it says, a new industry standard.

Cohda Wireless is headquartered in Australia and has offices in Europe, the US and China. Its V2X (Vehicle-To-Everything) technology connects vehicles with each other and with roadside infrastructure to create a cooperative and intelligent transport environment, the company says.

Now, its V2X-Locate technology is being deployed at the Rio Tinto-managed copper and gold mine in Mongolia to provide “unheralded vehicle and personnel location accuracy”, Cohda says.

This solution was initially developed to solve the vehicle positioning accuracy challenges inherent in the urban canyons of cities where large buildings, underground car parks and tunnels interfere with GNSS signals. Using DSRC (dedicated short-range communication) signals, Cohda’s signal processing and positioning algorithms provide accurate vehicle position irrespective of GNSS availability and/or quality and is therefore suited to mining environments.

As Russell Kennett, Manager Underground Technology at Oyu Tolgoi explains, Cohda’s technology has now been adapted to serve a mining environment for the first time.

“Cohda’s V2X-Locate allows all equipped mobile fleet, fixed plant and personnel to be reliably tracked in real time to sub-metre accuracy in a GNSS-denied environment, to prevent incidents and assist in emergency evacuations and to enable traffic management and schedule optimisation,” he said.

Cohda Wireless CEO, Dr Paul Gray, said the widespread adoption of connected, intelligent transport solutions in the mining sector will greatly reduce the risk of injury or death and will also drive productivity gains.

“The system can integrate and manage location data from multiple sensor types with sub-metre accuracy throughout the mine site and is a significant improvement on using a combination of disparate collision avoidance systems across the mining environment, as is usually the case,” he says.

“When you have hundreds of vehicles and personnel operating in close proximity underground, a metre matters! And, whilst the prevention of injury and death is always the top priority, we also know that the ability to visualise, optimise and monitor vehicles brings significant operational benefits and efficiencies.”

A Cohda V2X-Locate system is in place and ready to go live at Oyu Tolgoi. Over 200 mining vehicles of all types are being fitted with Cohda’s XBU-V specially adapted On-Board units, which connect vehicles to each other and to XBU-I Road-Side Units that are installed in mine tunnels. Over 2,000 personnel will use V2X-Locate compatible cap lamps so that the collective system can use time-of-flight analysis of wireless signals to resolve spatial locations, the company explained.

Mining vehicles are fitted with a human machine interface that will notify operators of potential collisions. The system supports EMESRT Level 7 (Alert) and partial Level 8 (Advise) controls with full Level 8 controls and Level 9 (Intervention) controls on the Cohda product roadmap, it said.

Kennett believes this deployment could be instrumental in adopting an industry peer-to-peer communications and location standard.

“This project allows us to benefit from a highly tested, future-proofed, automotive-level safety technology that has proven reliability, scalability and robustness,” he says. “This potentially opens the door for the introduction of mine-wide peer-to-peer V2X networks that OEMs and vendors can integrate into their products to ensure interoperability regardless of the setting.”

Aspire signs up Sedgman for Ovoot coking coal project FEED study

Aspire Mining Ltd has contracted Sedgman Pty Limited to prepare a Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) study on coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP) infrastructure to support commencement of operations at the Ovoot coking coal project (OCCP) in Mongolia.

Sedgman, a wholly owned subsidiary of CIMIC, is a leading provider of integrated minerals processing solutions with experience delivering processing solutions. It has provided technical input and various studies supporting the economics of the OCCP from discovery of the deposit in 2010.

The FEED study will be conducted in a phased approach, over a period of approximately five months. Stage 1 will comprise trade-off analyses to identify the most appropriate concepts and technologies, which will take approximately eight weeks. Stage 2 will then focus on the agreed path and will produce accurate estimates of capital and operating costs, and designs to enable tendering for construction. The work will be completed under a schedule of rates arrangement, with total cost of A$600,000 ($464,583) estimated, Aspire said.

The intended CHPP infrastructure to be investigated will be based on existing modular designs and will enable low impact processing of approximately 1.5 Mt/y of run-of-mine coal, with capability for later expansion, Aspire said. Important criteria for the design include low energy and water consumption, and stringent dust control.

Sedgman Managing Director, Grant Fraser, said: “Sedgman appreciated the opportunity to work with Aspire and is focused on delivering value through progressing an innovative solution for the project.

“This study is a great opportunity to work with one of our longstanding clients to support the future development of the OCCP.”

Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto sign Oyu Tolgoi UG funding HoA, agree to end arbitration

Turquoise Hill Resources and Rio Tinto have entered into a binding Heads of Agreement (HoA) to provide an updated funding plan for the completion of the Oyu Tolgoi underground copper-gold project in Mongolia.

The funding plan is designed to address the estimated remaining funding requirement of around $2.3 billion and replaces the non-binding Memorandum of Understanding that Rio and Turquoise Hill previously entered into on September 9, 2020.

Under the HoA, subject to securing approval by Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the project joint venture, and any required support from the Government of Mongolia, Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto will:

  • Pursue re-profiling of existing project debt to better align with the revised mine plan, project timing and cash flows to reduce the currently projected funding requirements of OT by up to $1.4 billion; and
  • Seek to raise up to $500 million in senior supplemental debt (SSD) under the existing project financing arrangements from selected international financial institutions.

In addition, Rio Tinto has committed to address any potential shortfalls from the re-profiling and additional SSD of up to $750 million by providing a senior co-lending facility on the same terms as Oyu Tolgoi’s project financing, while Turquoise Hill has committed to complete an equity offering of up to $500 million.

An updated feasibility study on the underground expansion at Oyu Tolgoi from June 2020 included a delay of 21 to 29 months for first sustainable production compared with the original 2016 feasibility study guidance and an increase of $1.3-$1.8 billion from the original $5.3 billion development capital. The process also saw 1.22 Mt of copper, 850,000 oz of gold and 7.01 Moz of silver removed from the Hugo Dummett North reserve base compared with the December 31, 2019 calculation, with some 80,000 t of copper, 70,000 oz of gold and 550,000 oz of silver added to the Hugo Dummett North Extension reserve base.

Since this announcement, Rio, Turquoise Hill and the Government of Mongolia have been trying to agree on a new funding pact for the sustainable development of the underground operation, which, in combination with open-pit mining, could produce around 500,000 t/y of copper at full capacity.

Steve Thibeault, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Turquoise Hill, said: “We are pleased to have reached a constructive and equitable agreement with Rio Tinto to fund the Oyu Tolgoi underground development. With a binding funding agreement now in place that sets out a process along a known timeline, we will be able to move ahead as expeditiously as possible with the development of the underground project at Oyu Tolgoi.

“We remain committed to continue delivering a benefit to all stakeholders, including Mongolia and its citizens, and to delivering significant long-term value for Turquoise Hill as this project progresses.”

Rio Tinto Copper Chief Executive Bold Baatar, added: “This agreement and alignment with Turquoise Hill represents a major milestone in the continued development of Oyu Tolgoi, which is expected to become one of the world’s largest copper mines and a significant contributor to the Mongolian economy for years to come. Commencing the re-profiling whilst concurrently listening, engaging and resolving the concerns of the Government of Mongolia are critical steps to maintaining momentum on the timely delivery of the Oyu Tolgoi Underground project.”

Following the HoA, Turquoise Hill and Rio have agreed to obtain an order dismissing the current arbitration on a “without prejudice basis” and without costs, including an order vacating the interim measures order, the companies said.

Techking custom-made tyres hit the ground at Rio Tinto WA operations

Equipped with Techking custom-made tyres 23.5R25 ETD2S, XCMG XC958 front-end loaders have arrived at Rio Tinto’s operations in Western Australia to begin transporting ore to cargo ships.

To gather user feedback on these tyres, Techking Australia branch business employee, Steve Coles, made a recent site visit.

The tyre model is specially designed for XCMG XC9 series high-end loaders to undertake ore transportation tasks. By adopting proprietary formula and chevron patterns, these custom-made tyres dramatically improve performance in cut resistance and overall sidewall strength, achieving a longer life cycle under special working conditions.

Allen Zhuo, an XCMG Field Service Engineer, told Coles that the Techking tyres and XCMG loaders had been put into use at Rio Tinto’s operations and were, at present, working well.

The delivery of customised tyres for XCMG loaders marks the second time Techking has rendered tailored tyre services to two international giants.

“This is another milestone made towards Techking’s goal of becoming a leading global tyre solution supplier for large mining machinery,” the China-based company said.

While Coles was visiting Rio Tinto, a test report with satisfactory results was received regarding the 27.00R49 SUPER ROCK tyres. These tyres were customised for Komatsu 785 rigid dump trucks working at a Rio Tinto copper mine in Mongolia.

“It is shown from the tracking data in March that the 27.00R49 SUPER ROCK tyres have reached an average service life of 4,201 hours to date and could go beyond Rio Tinto’s expectation by reaching an estimated service life of 10,406 hours,” the Techking field service engineers’ report read.

Vuzix Smart Glasses keep Rio global teams connected at Oyu Tolgoi Underground

Rio Tinto has deployed Vuzix Smart Glasses at the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia to continue progressing the development of the underground project in the face of travel restrictions tied to COVID-19.

Vuzik, a supplier of smart glasses and augmented reality technology and products, says the company is using its smart glasses to enable technical experts from all over the world to work with local teams on the underground project.

Rio, in its 2020 Annual Report, said it had been increasing its use of drones and mine pit cameras, and introduced video headsets (including smart glasses) to conduct visual inspections of tailings facilities and equipment while complying with travel restrictions and physical distance requirements.

“Vuzix Smart Glasses usage continues to expand across an ever-widening array of industry verticals,” Paul Travers, Vuzix President and Chief Executive Officer, said. “Companies like Rio Tinto, which is a global leader in its field, continue to provide validation of the value and effectiveness of our products in real world situations.”

XCMG’s DL560 wheel bulldozer heads to Mongolia mining sector

XCMG says it has delivered a DL560 wheel bulldozer – its largest wheeled dozer – to a mining customer in Mongolia. The delivery, XCMG says, marks full access for the Mongolia mining industry to the company’s entire product line of large-tonnage loaders and wheel bulldozers.

The DL560 wheel bulldozer is XCMG’s latest generation product developed with a firm structure, strong power and high level of stability and safety. This model is designed to be the first-choice product for ports and large mines, which can help tackle mining challenges brought by complicated complex geological structures.

Wang Min, Chairman of XCMG, said: “We are privileged to provide the very best of XCMG’s innovation and quality for our partners in Mongolia, and we hope such cooperation can help Mongolia, the second largest landlocked country in the world, to further discover its mineral resources.

“Our products, such as the DL560 wheel bulldozer, have been widely used in the country. XCMG has the highest market share in Mongolia among all Chinese brands and is now becoming the first choice for the local Mongolian construction machinery industry.”

Functions of the DL560 wheel bulldozer worth highlighting include XCMG’s new FOPS and ROPS pressurised cab featuring a large space, which offers low noise driving experience with excellent sealing performance. A sound and light warning device incorporated by an advanced electronic monitoring system, as well as a full-hydraulic maintenance-free wet drive axle, enables fast response and safe driving, the company said.

In the meantime, XCMG says it is also taking “green action” by introducing a load-sensing variable hydraulic system to the DL560 model. This can reduce fuel consumption by 7% and prolong the lives of parts, according to the company. Double-pump confluence technology can also improve working efficiency and reduce energy loss.

To ensure the sustainable usage of XCMG’s products in Mongolia, XCMG has also established a large-scale spare part resource reserve and a local spare parts centre in the country, offering comprehensive aftersales support with ultimate service.

Oyu Tolgoi hits the Copper Mark

Turquoise Hill Resources says the operator of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia has been awarded the Copper Mark, the copper industry’s new independently assessed responsible production program.

The Copper Mark is the first and only program for responsible production in the copper industry. Originally developed by the International Copper Association with inputs from a broad range of stakeholders including customers, NGOs and producers, the Copper Mark is now an independent entity with a multi-stakeholder council.

In August, Rio Tinto’s Kennecott site in the US became the first producer to be awarded the Copper Mark.

Oyu Tolgoi LLC met over 30 criteria for responsible environmental, social and governance (ESG) operating practices to hit the copper mark, Turquoise Hill said.

“At Turquoise Hill, we are fully committed to responsible production and transparency at Oyu Tolgoi,” Ulf Quellmann, Chief Executive Officer of Turquoise Hill Resources, the 66% owner of Oyu Tolgoi, said. “We congratulate Oyu Tulgoi on this prestigious award, which demonstrates our dedication to protecting the environment and safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of all workers and the local community. We are proud to be part of an operation that is leading the industry in ESG standards and contributing to the sustainable, long-term socio-economic development of Mongolia.”

Since 2010, Oyu Tolgoi has been developing a health, safety and environmental management system in compliance with IOS 14001 Environmental and OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety management standards. In 2013, Oyu Tolgoi was independently audited and received certification on these standards, Turquoise Hill said. As part of this program, Oyu Tolgoi has made a series of commitments about the way it operates, how it contributes to Mongolia’s society and economy, and how it manages environmental impacts, supporting the long-term development of Mongolia and sustainable supply chains.

Oyu Tolgoi loses some of its underground reserves following updated feasibility study

An updated feasibility study on the development of the underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi, in Mongolia, has confirmed that the huge copper-gold project will be delivering sustainable production later than initially planned and this output will come with a higher capital expenditure bill.

Majority owned by Rio Tinto through its 66% stake in Turquoise Hill Resources, Oyu Tolgoi is currently being mined as an open-pit operation (producing 146,346 t of copper and 241,840 oz of gold in 2019), yet previous studies have indicated a combined open-pit and underground operation could up the tally to around 500,000 t/y of copper.

Back in July 2019, Rio Tinto included an update on the underground project saying first output was expected to be achieved between May 2022 and June 2023, a delay of 16 to 30 months compared with the original feasibility study guidance in 2016, while preliminary estimates for development capital spend was $6.5-$7.2 billion, $1.2-$1.9 billion up on the $5.3 billion previously disclosed.

The updated feasibility study issued this week from Oyu Tolgoi LLC (owned 66% by Turquoise Hill and 34% by the Mongolian government), which is in the process of being submitting to the Government of Mongolia in accordance with Mongolian regulations and standards that require mining companies to submit updated feasibility studies every five years, includes a delay of 21 to 29 months for first sustainable production compared to the original feasibility study guidance in 2016 and an increase of $1.3-$1.8 billion from the original $5.3 billion development capital.

This process has also seen 1.22 Mt of copper, 850,000 oz of gold and 7.01 Moz of silver removed from the Hugo Dummett North reserve base compared with the December 31, 2019 calculation, with some 80,000 t of copper, 70,000 oz of gold and 550,000 oz of silver added to the Hugo Dummett North Extension reserve base.

It also includes a new mine design for Panel 0 of the Hugo Dummett North underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi, as well as confirming that the caving method of mining remains valid.

Detailed study, design, engineering and optimisation work is ongoing to support the definitive estimate of Panel 0 for the development of this orebody, which remains due in the second half of 2020, Rio said.

These estimates are subject to any additional scheduling delays or increases in capital costs arising from the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it added.

Back in July 2019, Rio said enhanced geotechnical and geological information obtained from drilling and mapping at depth suggested there may be some stability risks associated with the original mine design. This updated design was the result of a review of this information.

The updated design retains two in-situ rock pillars on either side of Panel 0 for geotechnical stability, whereas the original mine design had these pillars within the mining area. “The updated design is supported by extensive geotechnical modelling and industry leading technical assurance,” Rio said.

As a consequence of leaving the pillars in place, the material contained in the pillars has been reclassified from reserves to resources, Rio said, adding that part of the material contained in these pillars could be recoverable at a later stage following additional studies currently underway. This saw 2.43 Mt of copper, 570,000 oz of gold and 4.81 Moz of silver added to the July 3, 2020, Hugo Dummett North resource base.

Ore handling infrastructure will be relocated to the pillars, located immediately north and south of the current Panel 0 boundaries, Rio explained, with Panels 1 and 2 now be initiated as independent panels or mine blocks.

Optimisation of mine designs for Panels 1 and 2 is ongoing and it is anticipated that this next phase of study may result in further movements in classifications of reserves and resources, according to Rio.

Arnaud Soirat, Chief Executive of Copper & Diamonds, said: “This amended mine design is another positive step in the development of the underground mine which will unlock the most valuable part of Oyu Tolgoi. We remain focused on delivering the underground project safely and within the guidance ranges we have announced on both cost and schedule.”