TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Canada-based miner Turquoise Hill Resources on Thursday announced that its 65%-owned Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold project, in Mongolia, had produced its first copper/gold concentrate after it processed first ore through the concentrator in early January.
The start of concentrate production signalled that production ramp-up was expected to achieve commercial production rates within the next three to five months.
"Oyu Tolgoi continues to progressively ramp up the mine and the production of first concentrate is another important milestone. We are making good progress on our timetable leading to the start of commercial operations,"
Turquoise Hill CEO Kay Priestly said.
Turquoise Hill Resources celebrated the commissioning of the Oyu Tolgoi mine’s concentrator on December 27, 2012. Activating the concentrator’s ore-processing circuit for the first time commemorated the occasion.
Oyu Tolgoi, which is 66% owned by Turquoise Hill and parent Rio Tinto and Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi, which owns the remaining 34%, had the mineral resources to become one of the world’s top three copper/gold producers. The project entails the construction and operation of an initial concentrator facility that will process 100 000 t/d of ore (36.5-million tons a year). By the end of the fifth year of operation, the concentrator will be expanded to a capacity of 160 000 t/d (58-million tons a year).
Under the common start-up plan, ore will initially be sourced from the openpit mine on the Southern Oyu deposits, while the adjacent higher-grade underground mine on the Hugo North deposit will be developed to full production of 85 000 t/d.
The mine is expected to produce more than 1.2-billion pounds (544 000 t) of copper, three-million ounces of silver and 650 000 oz/y of gold in the first ten years of operation and, seven years later, at its peak, it is expected to produce about 1.7-billion pounds of copper and one-million ounces of gold.