On Monday, global mining group Rio Tinto announced the commencement of underground production from the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia.
In a statement, Rio Tinto said that the Prime Minister of Mongolia, Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene, today joined Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm 1.3 kilometres underground to celebrate this milestone.
“Since the agreement between the Government of Mongolia and Rio Tinto in January 2022 to reset the relationship and move the Oyu Tolgoi underground project forward, 30 drawbells have been blasted and copper is now being produced from the underground mine,” the company added.
Rio Tinto noted that Oyu Tolgoi is expected to become the fourth-largest copper mine in the world by 2030, operating in the first quartile of the copper equivalent cost curve. Ore is currently being processed from Panel Zero in Hugo North Lift 1 and production will ramp up over the coming years.
“Developing the underground mine is an investment of over $7 billion, unlocking the most valuable part of the copper resource for the benefit of all stakeholders,” the company said.
Rio Tinto pointed out that Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce around 500,000 tonnes of copper per year on average from 2028 to 2036 from the open pit and underground mines, enough to produce around 6 million electric vehicles annually, and an average of around 290,000 tonnes over the reserve life of around 30 years.
Learn more: Kitco