Success story

From herder to operator, D.Khurlee’s journey

The Oyu Tolgoi project has brought many changes to the South Gobi, and changed lives in the local community for the better. There are many stories of people, families and communities from the region, but today we hear the story of a young herder who became a mine operator.

D.Khurlee, a citizen of Khanbogd, was born and raised in Javkhlant bagh, where Oyu Tolgoi mine is located. It is common for children to dream of new adventures, and growing up seeing construction bring the Oyu Tolgoi project to life – D.Khurlee dreamed of joining the project and having a chance to operate the huge trucks and machinery that the mining industry is known for.

Starting from a simple herding life, D.Khurlee progressed quickly towards his dream. First finding employment at Oyu Tolgoi as a road maintenance worker, he took advantage of Oyu Tolgoi’s policy to encourage people to apply for positions at the open pit, and expressed his interest in becoming a heavy equipment operator.

With Oyu Tolgoi’s total focus on safety, this first meant a month of safety inductions and simulator training before going anywhere near the equipment, and afterwards a two month long apprenticeship to ensure thorough learning.

The largest vehicle D.Khurlee had driven up to this time was a passenger car, and the transition to the Komatsu 930E-4SE haul truck – was in his own words – overwhelming. The truck is 15 meters wide and 18 meters long, and can haul 290 tonne loads with its 3,500 horsepower power plant. The fuel tank alone, D.Khurlee exclaims, weighs 4.5 tonnes!

Speaking about the experience, D.Khurlee said: “My life has changed dramatically since I joined Oyu Tolgoi. I am happy the way the company cares for its people, and our team works in harmony – just like a family, working hand in hand. We always advise and help each other. I am grateful to my colleagues. Being an operator feels good. At the mine, safety is the main priority, and working safe is the most important mission of all, for all of us.”

“It feels good to work in my hometown in such an interesting job,” said D.Khurlee with pride, reflecting on the state-of-the-art technology at his fingertips at a world class mine in his native land.

D.Khurlee is proof of how young herders from the local community are replacing their horse bridle with the steering wheel of a powerful machine, aspiring to new opportunities and a new life.

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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