Oyu Tolgoi marks 10th anniversary of first major mineral discovery

Oyu Tolgoi remains focused on its development plans for the future, but has taken the time to acknowledge its past, recognising the 10 years that have passed since the discovery of its first major minerals deposit.

The discovery of significant gold, copper and molybdenum at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia was announced by Ivanhoe Mines in July 2001. One decade on and Oyu Tolgoi is on course to realise its potential and become one of the world’s great copper-gold mines.

Oyu Tolgoi LLC president and chief executive officer Cameron McRae said “Oyu Tolgoi’s journey over the past 10 years shows how far the project has come.

“This 10th anniversary is an occasion to acknowledge the commitments to Mongolia by Ivanhoe Mines, and in particular Robert Friedland, and the central roles they played in the discovery of Oyu Tolgoi’s world-scale deposits.

“Importantly, the people and the Government of Mongolia have embraced the Oyu Tolgoi project, playing a key role in its development and providing the momentum for growth. Without this support, the project could not succeed.

“With Rio Tinto last year assuming management responsibility for Oyu Tolgoi, the skills and expertise of one of the world’s leading international mining companies is helping to ensure that the development proceeds with world-class technical and operational excellence.”

Ivanhoe began working with the drilling team in Mongolia in 2000. According to the company’s news release at the time, the first deep diamond-drill hole that tested the Southwest Oyu Zone at Oyu Tolgoi was drilled to 590 metres and averaged in excess of one gram of gold per tonne and 0.81 per cent copper from 70 metres to 578 metres. The drill hole also intersected a zone of 278 metres, from 188 to 466 metres, that graded in excess of 1 per cent copper and approximately 1.5 grams of gold per tonne.

Oyu Tolgoi’s deposits now extend over a 23kilometre mineralised trend.

Almost 1000 kilometres of core has been drilled since the start of the exploration programme at Oyu Tolgoi in 2000. Three drilling rigs continue to expand the known resources. The current measured and indicated resource contains an estimated 40.6 billion pounds of copper and 20.9 million ounces of gold, with an additional inferred resource of 40.6 billion pounds of copper and 25.3 million ounces of gold.

Oyu Tolgoi is believed to be one of the largest project financing ventures undertaken in the mining sector. More than US$3.2 billion has already been invested in the Oyu Tolgoi project, including US$1 billion in the lead-up to the signing of the Investment Agreement in 2009. It is the largest project ever developed in Mongolia. A total of approximately US$6 billion is being invested in exploration and construction of the initial open-pit mine and plant including some construction of the phase two underground mine. Spending is running at US$7 million a day.

Oyu Tolgoi has paid the Government of Mongolia more than US$300 million in taxes and fees in the past three years. Mongolian suppliers secured more than US$250 million in contracts with Oyu Tolgoi in 2010, with strong growth expected this year.

The development of the Oyu Tolgoi mine is continuing, with the total workforce now exceeding 14,000 people. When Oyu Tolgoi is fully operational it is expected to account for more than 30 per cent of Mongolia’s Gross Domestic Product and employ approximately 3000 Mongolians.

During the first decade of production, it is projected that Oyu Tolgoi will produce annually an average of 1.2 billion pounds (544,000 tonnes) of copper, 650,000 ounces of gold and three million ounces of silver.

About Oyu Tolgoi LLC (

Oyu Tolgoi LLC, Mongolia's largest copper and gold mining company, is a strategic partnership between the Government of Mongolia, Turquoise Hill Resources and Rio Tinto. Located in the South Gobi, Oyu Tolgoi commenced shipment of product to customers in July 2013. Oyu Tolgoi is managed by Rio Tinto, which is investing global expertise and cutting-edge technology to help develop Mongolia’s mining industry and ensure Oyu Tolgoi is one of the world’s most advanced mines. For Oyu Tolgoi, nothing matters more than safety. The business operates under the principle that if a job cannot be done safely, it will not be done at all.

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