Rio Tinto Chief Executive Sam Walsh visited Oyu Tolgoi to mark the recent shipment of the one millionth tonne of copper concentrate since the mine reached commercial production in 2013.
An official ceremony of celebration was held at the mine site in the South Gobi desert, also attended by Minister of Mining, R Jigjid, Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive of Copper & Coal, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, Oyu Tolgoi President and CEO, Andrew Woodley, and Oyu Tolgoi Chairman, Batsukh Galsan.
Oyu Tolgoi has already unlocked tremendous value for the country in the form of investment inflows, job creation, and the introduction of international safety, technical, environmental, managerial, procurement and accounting standards.
Since 2010, more than US$6.4 billion has been invested in the operation and approximately US$1.3 billion has been paid in taxes, royalties and other fees to the Government of Mongolia. In 2014 alone, US$300 million was spent on procurement with Mongolian companies and US$7.8 million invested in education, training, and sustainable development projects.
The visit, Sam Walsh’s first since becoming Rio Tinto Chief Executive, also included a tour of Oyu Tolgoi’s operations where he met employees from all parts of the workforce and saw first-hand the company’s focus on delivering a safe and globally competitive copper business.
“It is wonderful to see the Oyu Tolgoi open pit operation first-hand, and witness what is, by any standard, an extraordinary achievement by the national Mongolian workforce,” Sam said.
“To reach one million tonnes of copper concentrate shipped, in less than two years of operation, is a major milestone for such a young business and something we are tremendously proud to be a part of”.
Speaking during the ceremony, Minister of Minig, R. Jigjid paid tribute to the progress made at Oyu Tolgoi. “Oyu Tolgoi is a great national asset. Today’s ceremony is testament to the hard and impressive work of the employees, 95 per cent of whom are Mongolian nationals. I am confident that Oyu Tolgoi will continue to go from strength-to-strength, and make a significant net contribution to Mongolia’s social and economic fabric for many years to come,” said the Minister.
Oyu Tolgoi made its first shipment of copper concentrate to international markets in July 2013, and has continued to ramp up production and sales since, focusing on optimizing the open pit operation to deliver value to all stakeholders.