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Rio Tinto sets new start date for Oyu Tolgoi copper exports

Keywords: Tags  Rio Tinto, Oyu Tolgoi, copper, gold, Mongolia, Turquoise Hill Resources, Shivani Singh

SINGAPORE — Rio Tinto Plc plans to begin exporting copper from its $6.6-billion Oyu Tolgoi Mine in Mongolia June 21, a mine source told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

Oyu Tolgoi has received all approvals, he said, and plans to start shipments to smelters in China with a consignment of about 576 tonnes of copper concentrate. The company delayed its initial shipment from June 14 as it awaited final government approvals (, June 13).

At full capacity, the concentrator will produce 345,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year, the source said. "This is a huge project, and the ramp-up is happening," noting that "we have some stockpiles of copper concentrate" for future shipments

The Oyu Tolgoi project is an open-pit mine currently, but "the underground mine will be operational hopefully in 2018-19," the company source said. Over its life, the Oyu Tolgoi project is expected to produce 425,000 tonnes of copper and 460,000 ounces of gold per year.

The London-based company plans to hold an event June 21 to mark the first shipment, the source said. Mongolian prime minister Norovyn Altankhuyag is expected to attend.

Oyu Tolgoi said recently it had no plans to send concentrate to plants in Indonesia or elsewhere that have been hit by the force majeure following a fatal accident at Jakarta-based PT Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg Mine.

Oyu Tolgoi production may partially offset the loss of copper due to the force majeure at Grasberg and by a wall slide at Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah (, April 16).

The Mongolian government has a 34-percent stake in Oyu Tolgoi, while Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd., a unit of Rio Tinto, owns the rest. The operation is expected to account for 35 percent of Mongolia’s gross domestic product by 2020.

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

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