Oyu Tolgoi Operates Uninterrupted Despite Coronavirus Challenges

Copper production remains on track to achieve guidance of 140,000 mt to 170,000 mt.
Despite challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Turquoise Hill’s Oyu Tolgoi open pit has continued to operate uninterrupted and produced 36,495 metric tons (mt) of copper and 31,150 ounces (oz) of gold in the second quarter of 2020.

“Faced with the challenges of operating within the constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oyu Tolgoi team posted outstanding safety and production performance in the second quarter of 2020,” the company said. “The open-pit operations have continued uninterrupted, and the underground development, while experiencing workforce restrictions and the inability to repatriate foreign specialists, has continued to progress.” Copper production remains on track to achieve guidance of 140,000 mt to 170,000 mt.

Gold production guidance for 2020 has increased to 155,000 oz to 180,000 oz from 120,000 oz to 150,000 oz. The increase in gold production guidance is due to a change in the open-pit schedule, which has brought forward higher-grade gold ore from the southwest pit. Work on the Oyu Tolgoi underground continued, achieving strong productivity in underground advancement during the second quarter of 2020. During the second quarter, the amount spent on underground development was $242.4 million. Routine Shaft No. 2 rope shortening was successfully completed in May with remote presence technology from the vendor being used to assist on-site teams to safely perform the task.

Shafts 3 and 4 continued on care and maintenance during the second quarter of 2020, and is expected to continue until expert service providers can return to site to complete technical commissioning of specialized equipment and commence sinking activities. Work also slowed on some essential underground material handling infrastructure, in particular the construction of primary crusher one, which has now returned to 24-hour shifts following a period of day shift only.

Production in 2021 is expected to remain in a range of 170,000 mt to 200,000 mt of copper, and 450,000 oz to 500,000 oz of gold, as the company transitions to the higher grade ore in the lower benches of the southwest pit and continue to increase the amount of underground development material processed.

As featured in Womp 2020 Vol 09 - www.womp-int.com