Turquoise Hill Resources, owner of the Oyu Tolgoi complex in Mongolia, said in an earnings and operational update that it has, in part, resumed its shipments to China, about two weeks after curtailing them due to a COVID-related force majeure.

Photo: Rio Tinto

The force majeure was put in place on March 30, and shipments of concentrate were paused because of COVID-19 health and safety precautions that were put into place related to Chinese-Mongolian border crossings.

The cross-border shipments resumed on a limited basis on April 15. The owner said it is examining “multiple contingencies’ to further address the force majeure, including an alternative shipping route through Ulaanbaatar.

Oyu Tolgoi, which is considered to be the largest copper-gold-silver operation in the world, also has resumed underground work after two of its workers contracted coronavirus in March. It has carefully managed the situation, it said, through widespread testing and implementation of a quarantine.

“Accordingly, underground work has progressively resumed and continued to ramp up as personnel return to site following the quarantine period and resumption of flights to site,” the company confirmed.

It also stressed that the pandemic situation in Mongolia remains fragile and is subject to rapid change. 

“Oyu Tolgoi is constantly adapting to the changing circumstances to prioritise the health and safety of its employees.”

The miner also said underground development negotiations with Rio Tinto are continuing.

“Oyu Tolgoi is progressing as planned in relation to the technical criteria for commencement of the undercut. Regulatory approvals by the government of Mongolia are still pending and are critical elements to proceed with the decision to commence the undercut,” Turquoise Hill Resources said, adding that it will update the status of the issue in the coming weeks.

Oyu Tolgoi is located in the South Gobi region of Mongolia, approximately 550 kilometres south of Ulaanbaatar and 80 km north of the Mongolia-China border.

Source: Turquoise Hill Resources

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