Tag Archives: Mongolia

Rio, Turquoise Hill and Mongolia government find power solution for Oyu Tolgoi

Rio Tinto, Turquoise Hill Resources and the Government of Mongolia have reached an agreement on the preferred domestic power solution for the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, in Mongolia, that, Rio says, paves the way for the government to fund and construct a state-owned power plant at Tavan Tolgoi.

The agreement, which is a revision of the Power Source Framework Agreement (PSFA) signed in 2018, states that the parties will work towards finalising a Power Purchase Agreement by the end of March 2021.

In addition, the amended PSFA sets a proposed timetable for development, with construction of the coal-fired power plant set to begin no later than July 1, 2021, and commissioning within four years thereafter.

Oyu Tolgoi is currently sourcing power from China’s Inner Mongolian Western Grid via overhead power lines, via a back-to-back power purchase agreement with National Power Transmission Grid JSC, the power importing entity, and the Inner Mongolian Power Company, according to Turquoise Hill.

Both the Government of Mongolia and Oyu Tolgoi have committed to extending the current arrangement to ensure continued stable power is supplied to the mine and underground project until the state-owned power plant is commissioned and is able to supply stable, reliable and continuous power, Rio said.

Back in February, Rio, which has a majority stake in Turquoise Hill, said it was continuing to progress options to secure domestically-sourced power for Oyu Tolgoi as part of an obligation to source power by June 30, 2023, under the 2009 Investment Agreement between Turquoise Hill (which owns 66% of Oyu Tolgoi), the Government of Mongolia and Rio, and the subsequent PSFA signed in 2018.

Arnaud Soirat, Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds Chief Executive, said: “This agreement provides a potential pathway to securing a domestic power supply for the Oyu Tolgoi mine and underground project for the benefit of all shareholders and the wider community. We look forward to working with the Government of Mongolia to progress the solution.”

Oyu Tolgoi produced 146,346 t of copper and 241,840 oz of gold in 2019, with mill throughput running at 40.78 Mt for the year.

Rio, Turquoise Hill put forward coal power plant option for Oyu Tolgoi

Rio Tinto says it is continuing to progress options to secure domestically sourced power for its majority-owned Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia.

The mining major’s domestic search for energy is part of an obligation to source power by June 30, 2023 under the 2009 Investment Agreement between Turquoise Hill Resources (which owns 66% of Oyu Tolgoi), the Government of Mongolia and Rio Tinto, and the subsequent Power Sector Framework Agreement signed in 2018.

In compliance with these agreements, Oyu Tolgoi LLC has submitted to the Government of Mongolia a feasibility study for the Tavan Tolgoi Power Plant (TTPP) project, which involves building a 300 MW coal power plant. This plant, to be located in Tsogttsetsii soum of Umnugovi province, comes with a total project cost estimate of up to $924 million, pending consideration of certain amounts yet to be finalised, Turquoise Hill said. Rio says this amount is already included in the group capital expenditure guidance of $7 billion in 2020 and $6.5 billion each in 2021 and 2022.

In parallel with the TTPP project, and in consultation with the Government of Mongolia, Rio Tinto is also progressing alternative options to source domestic power, including a renewable power component, Rio said.

Oyu Tolgoi is currently sourcing power from China’s Inner Mongolian Western Grid via overhead power lines, via a back-to-back power purchase agreement with National Power Transmission Grid JSC, the power importing entity, and the Inner Mongolian Power Company, according to Turquoise Hill.

Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds Chief Executive, Arnaud Soirat, said: “Rio Tinto, Turquoise Hill and the Government of Mongolia are all committed to securing a reliable and long-term domestic power source for the Oyu Tolgoi mine and are working together to achieve this.”

Barloworld makes plans to establish Eurasia equipment unit

Barloworld says its Mongolia subsidiary has entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of Wagner Asia Equipment and 49% of SGMS LLC to help establish a new Eurasia-focused equipment unit.

The Caterpillar dealer has agreed to pay $216.8 million as part of the transaction, which will see the remainder of SGMS continue to be held by Battur Battulga, a Mongolian citizen actively involved in managing SGMS, which, Barloworld says, supplies equipment, parts and services to a key customer.

Through Wagner International LLC and its subsidiaries, the Wagner family have been doing business in Mongolia for over 22 years and are a long-standing Caterpillar dealer in selected states in the US.

Wagner Asia Equipment is engaged in the business of selling and distributing construction equipment, mining equipment, power systems, and related goods and services in Mongolia, primarily under the Caterpillar brand, according to Barloworld. It recently presented four 55 t CAT773 E dump trucks to Ulz Group, a Mongolia-based company focused on mining, exploration and construction (ceremony pictured).

Barloworld, in a SENS release, said it had consistently stated its desire to allocate capital to opportunities that complement its competencies as part of its medium-term strategy.

“The group balance sheet is strong and this opportunity, adjacent to the current Russian operation, presents an attractive growth prospect within the Equipment division,” it said. “The Wagner Asia Equipment business will be combined with the current Barloworld Russian business unit into a newly formed Equipment Eurasia unit.”

The proposed transaction is subject to the following outstanding conditions:

  • The conclusion of various agreements with Caterpillar Inc (or an associated entity) in respect of the Caterpillar dealership in Mongolia;
  • The carve-out, exclusion or transfer of non-core assets, liabilities, agreements, customers and debtors held by Wagner Asia Equipment prior to completion of the proposed transaction;
  • Obtaining the consent and associated waiver of Battur Battulga to the proposed transaction and the entry into of a new shareholders’ agreement;
  • Obtaining the consent(s) and/or waiver(s) from certain third parties in respect of certain rights arising from the change of control contemplated by the proposed transaction; and
  • Gaining the necessary board approvals of the seller, the purchaser and Barloworld.

The proposed transaction is expected to complete on or about April 1, 2020, with a long stop date of October 1, 2020, Barloworld says.

Major Drilling helping narrow down Oyu Tolgoi orebody

Major Drilling says it is nearing the completion of a cave tracking system installation at the Turquoise Hill Resources and Mongolia government-owned Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, in Mongolia.

In early 2000, Major Drilling established a drilling campaign in the middle of the Gobi Desert, with operational supplies needing to ramp up to support 20 rigs that were transported to the site.

This drilling work has since evolved into the tracking system that has proven successful in the block cave operation.

These trackers are lowered through a specially-drilled borehole into the Oyu Tolgoi orebody below. Block cave magnetic beacons are embedded into the orebody and spun to create a magnetic field.

“Magnetisation has been found to be the most effective way to track the fragmentation as an orebody caves in allowing loaders to mine the ore from draw points deep underground,” Major Drilling said.

Major Drilling’s teams strategically place magnetic beacons throughout the mine to create a 3D map and to track the position of the orebody cave-in flow. The cables are attached to the duct rodder, which is lowered from a winch system. Once the trackers are placed, block caving techniques will undercut and fragment the deepest points of the geology, according to the company. The orebody is then collected and taken away for processing.

“Block caving is a low-cost mining method used for the development of massive ore deposits,” Major Drilling says. “Mine planners often use an experienced specialised drilling company to precondition the block cave mining area through hydrofracking. Tracking the flow of the fragmented, caved ore is a critical part of accessing targeted orebodies.”

Mine planners use the information from the magnetic tracking devices placed by the Major Drilling team to understand the direction of intended failure the stone is moving.

Shaun Hogan, Major Drilling’s Project Manager at Oyu Tolgoi, said: “We are nearing the completion of the cave tracking system installation at Oyu Tolgoi. Over the past two years, we have worked very closely with our client and various stakeholders; this partnership has achieved a successful deep tracking network.”

In addition to block cave tracking, Major Drilling also performs seismic monitoring to help predict rock mass instabilities. Seismic monitoring is another specialised drilling service that makes large-scale block cave work safer and more productive.

Major Drilling was awarded the Rio Tinto Growth & Innovation Group Award for the successful seismic drilling program at Oyu Tolgoi in 2017.

XCMG bolsters Mongolia offering with spare parts centre

XCMG has opened its first spare parts centre in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in an effort to provide “all-around support and services” for customers in the country.

The new centre will connect with the Xuzhou Headquarters, Erenhot Distribution Center and mining districts’ On-site Support Warehouses to create a complete “sale-support-repair” service, it said. This will provide “high-quality equipment, flawless support in operation and guarantees for equipment throughout the entire life cycle of XCMG’s products”, the company said.

XCMG’s Song said: “As Mongolia accelerates the construction of infrastructure over the next decade, XCMG will be on-hand to help develop the local market. With our new service centre and complete solution, there will be no limit to what we can build together.”

The company’s exports to Mongolia are increasing year by year, XCMG said, with the total number of machinery shipped to Mongolia up to July 2019 already exceeded the total for 2018, according to recent customs reports. “The dramatic increase underlines the position of XCMG’s large-tonnage mining excavators, loaders, graders and mining trucks as the top choice for operators in Mongolia,” XCMG said.

To meet the ever-growing demand for spare parts support and services, XCMG initiated the spare parts centre project with local dealer AODE in April. Some 20 million yuan ($2.9 million) was invested to construct the 2,000 sq.m site located in Ulaanbatar. This will significantly improve XCMG’s ability to provide spare parts services in Mongolia and its neighbouring region, as well as better sales services in Middle Asia, the company said.

Wang Min, Chairman and CEO of XCMG, said: “XCMG is committed to providing excellent products and service to all our customers, service is part of the product itself, and XCMG will invest heavily to create a global spare parts network and standard service procedures to win customers’ trust.”

Rio revises Oyu Tolgoi cost and production estimates on rock stability issues

Rio Tinto has provided an update on its majority-owned Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold underground project, in Mongolia, admitting that stability risks identified with the previously approved mine design has led to an estimated cost increase and delay to first production.

First output is now 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 is now $6.5-$7.2 billion, $1.2-$1.9 billion up on the $5.3 billion previously disclosed.

These estimates are preliminary in nature – the equivalent of a conceptual or order of magnitude study – but Rio said a definitive estimate should be forthcoming in the second half of 2020.

Oyu Tolgoi Underground is Rio’s major copper growth project. When the underground mine is fully ramped up, the existing open pit and underground, combined, are expected to produce more than 500,000 t/y of copper.

Alongside this announcement, Rio Tinto also published its June quarter production results, which showed Rio’s share of production of the Oyu Tolgoi open-pit mine was 13,100 t of copper over the period.

Since February, key below ground infrastructure such as the control room facility and the jaw crusher system have been completed and construction of shafts 3 and 4 is progressing well, according to Rio. The commissioning of shaft 2 remains on track for October 2019.

As Rio previously advised, enhanced geotechnical information and data modelling suggests there may be some stability risks identified with the approved mine design. As a result, several other mine design options are under consideration to complete the project.

Rio said: “Studies to date indicate that these options may result in some of the critical underground infrastructure, such as the mid-access drive and the ore handling system, being relocated or removed. Options relating to the sequence of crossing the panel boundaries during mining operations are also being analysed.”

These options are being evaluated to determine the final design of the first panel of mining, “Panel 0”, with the work anticipated to continue until early 2020, Rio said. This is where the definitive estimate date of the second half of 2020 comes from. This estimate will include the final estimate of cost and schedule for the remaining underground project and the preferred mine design approach.

Rio said: “All options under consideration present a pathway to sustainable first production, and have different cost and schedule implications. To date, these have been defined to a level of accuracy associated with a conceptual study or order of magnitude study, and, therefore, significantly more work is required to complete the final assessment.”

Preliminary information now suggests, depending on which mine design options are adopted, first sustainable production could be achieved between May 2022-June 2023. This range includes contingency of up to eight months reflecting the “unexpected and challenging geotechnical issues, complexities in the construction of shaft 2 and the detailed work still required to reach a more precise estimate”, Rio said.

The company added: “The company will continue to focus on minimising the impact to project schedule and cost, as it works through the detailed analysis and testing of each mine design option. Although further work is necessary to reach definitive conclusions, Rio Tinto is reviewing the carrying value of its investment in the project and will announce if any changes are required in the half year results on August 1, 2019.”

Stephen McIntosh, Group Executive, Growth & Innovation, said: “We have made significant progress on a number of key elements in the construction of the underground project during 2019. However, the ground conditions are more challenging than expected and we are having to review our mine plan and consider a number of options. Delays are not unusual for such a large and complex project, but we are very focused as a team on finding the right pathway to deliver this high value project.”

Arnaud Soirat, Chief Executive, Copper & Diamonds, said: “Oyu Tolgoi is a world-class orebody and a world-class business that is already producing copper, employing around 16,000 people and benefitting Mongolia through taxes, royalties and significant procurement. We are working with Turquoise Hill Resources and the Government of Mongolia to complete the underground, which will unlock the most valuable part of the mine for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Oyu Tolgoi is owned 66% by Turquoise Hill Resources (THR) and 34% by the Mongolian government, with Rio Tinto holding a majority stake in THR.

Components Only expands offering to Chile, Mongolia

Australia-based business, Components Only says it is establishing offices in Chile and Mongolia as it looks to tap into the high-profile mining markets in those regions.

Calling itself a leader in the buying, selling and sourcing of new, used and rebuilt components for heavy machinery across the mining, construction and earthmoving industries, the company said the move was predicated on responding to increased demand for its services and expertise.

Components Only Accounts Director, Ben Hailes (pictured on the left), said: “Both rich in resources, Chile and Mongolia utilise similar equipment to our existing markets of Australia and North America and we are confident that with local staff we can respond to the increasing trade requirements of these economies.”

Chile is the world’s largest producer of copper, with the mining industry a major employer in the country. The sector represents around 10 percent of the nation’s GDP. Mongolia, meanwhile, boasts significant proven deposits of gold, copper, iron ore and coal, with its minerals sector underdeveloped and holding enormous potential, Components Only said.

Hailes continued: “Our expansion into Chile and Mongolia is an opportunity for us to leverage our proven business model, as well as to create positive economic impacts for both nations through employment and development of infrastructure. We’re committed to improving these regions, and we look forward to working with the local communities.”

Components Only’s services encompass the sourcing of new, used and rebuilt components worldwide; selling, appraising and disposing of excess and obsolete stock; and providing online marketplace services that facilitate the trade of components on one platform.

Variable rock mass pushes Rio off course at Oyu Tolgoi Underground project

Rio Tinto has said completion of the Oyu Tolgoi underground copper-gold mine, in Mongolia, could be delayed for several months as detailed geotechnical data has revealed the rock mass is more variable than previously envisaged.

Oyu Tolgoi Underground is Rio’s major copper growth project. When the underground mine is fully ramped up, the existing open pit and underground, combined, are expected to produce more than 500,000 t/y of copper.

In Rio’s 2018 results, the company said the underground project continued to progress last year with the construction of critical above- and below-ground infrastructure. Detailed engineering design work and overall construction progress was mostly on track, with the main focus, in 2018, being on underground lateral development, the fit out of shaft 2 (the main production shaft), support infrastructure and the convey-to-surface decline.

Recent achievements at the operation, owned 66% by Turquoise Hill Resources (THR) and 34% by the Mongolian government, with Rio Tinto holding a majority stake in THR, include the completion of the overland conveyor connecting shaft 2 to the coarse ore stockpile, significant progress on the second underground crusher and the expansion of the central heating plant, Rio said.

“Overall, the underground lateral development has been proceeding well, with a total of 19 km achieved at the end of January 2019, against our second annual reforecast target of 19.8 km,” Rio said.

But, for the second quarterly report in a row, Rio flagged delays in completing the underground project.

“With the structural, mechanical and electrical fitout of shaft 2, it is now clear that the completion of this technically complex installation and commissioning work will be delayed by several months,” Rio said. “Delayed completion of the shaft, which provides additional hoist capacity to accelerate lateral development, will further delay the date we reach sustainable production beyond the nine-month delay indicated in October 2018.”

Back then, difficult ground conditions had slowed progress in some areas of the underground development, but, as the lateral development has continued, Rio said it had learnt more about the rock mass around and under the orebody and has access to more detailed geotechnical data than was available from surface drilling.

“This data reveals there are areas of the mine footprint where the strength of the rock mass is more variable than anticipated in the feasibility study,” Rio said. “This will require some potentially significant changes to the design of some future elements of the development and the development schedule.”

Detailed design work is now underway as is the work necessary to estimate the impact on cost and schedule from these changes and the delay in commissioning shaft 2, Rio said, while admitting that first production was unlikely to occur in the September quarter of 2021 as previously guided.

There were still many positive development takeaways from the mining major’s 2018 results, in addition to the record $13.5 billion it returned to shareholders as part of last year’s operational performance.

This included, among others, an update on the Kemano hydropower project in Kitimat, British Columbia, and the latest on AutoHaul™, the world’s first automated heavy-haul, long distance rail network.

On the former, a $500 million project in its aluminium business where Rio is constructing a required second tunnel at its hydropower facility, the company said it was expecting to complete the project by late-2020.

It will supply the Kemano powerhouse with water from the Nachako Reservoir, creating a back up to the original tunnel built over 60 years ago.

“We completed the starter tunnel in December 2018 and began boring the main tunnel in January 2019,” it said.

The company is carrying out this excavation with a 1,300-t tunnel boring machine (pictured) that will dig 7.6 km of tunnel through a mountain as part of a project to enhance the long-term security of a clean power supply for the BC Works aluminium smelter.

On AutoHaul, Rio said, in December 2018, it successfully deployed the autonomous rail network.

“Since completing the first autonomous haulage run in July 2018, we have steadily increased the number of driverless journeys, with more than 1.6 million km travelled autonomously in 2018,” Rio said.

The programme is now focused on optimising autonomous operations, according to Rio.

Oyu Tolgoi power solution is on the cards

Turquoise Hill Resources has announced the signing of a Power Source Framework Agreement (PSFA) between Oyu Tolgoi and the Government of Mongolia.

The PSFA provides a binding framework and pathway forward for the construction of a Tavan Tolgoi-based power project, as well as the basis for a long-term domestic power solution for the copper-gold mine, Turquoise Hill said.

Ulf Quellmann, Chief Executive Officer of Turquoise Hill, said: “We are encouraged by the pivotal decision to proceed with the power project at Tavan Tolgoi. Resolving Oyu Tolgoi’s long-term power requirements is critically important to the mine’s long-term development and today’s signing of the PSFA is a positive milestone toward that goal.

“We will continue to work closely and collaboratively with our partners to finalise the details of the power project, which will allow this truly great world-class asset to achieve its full potential for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The PSFA formalises the role of each party and sets out an amended timetable for Oyu Tolgoi to source power domestically, according to the company. Construction is expected to start in 2020 following further studies and commissioning of the power plant is scheduled for mid-2023.

Oyu Tolgoi will now move forward to confirm the technical design of the project and finalise the commercial arrangements, including financing, underpinning the PSFA, the company said.

The 300 MW plant will be majority owned by Oyu Tolgoi LLC, 51%-owned by Turquoise Hill, and will be situated close to the Tavan Tolgoi coalfields.

Turquoise Hill Resources is 51%-owned by Rio Tinto.