Oyu Tolgoi’s gold production jumps over 180% in Q1 of 2019

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Canadian mineral explorer and developer Turquoise Hill Resources assured it is on track to achieving its 2019 copper and gold production guidance for Oyu Tolgoi, following a strong operational performance in the first quarter of the year.

Turquoise Hill released its first quarter 2019 production for Oyu Tolgoi and provided an update on underground development on Monday. The report highlighted that Oyu Tolgoi’s copper production reached 45,800 tons, up by 18.2 percent compared to the first quarter of 2018, while its gold production reached 120,000 ounces, up by 187.6 percent compared to the first quarter of 2018.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer Ulf Quellmann said, “The Oyu Tolgoi open-pit delivered another strong operational performance in the first quarter of 2019. Mined material was higher than the same period last year, and we continued to benefit from processing high-grade material from Phase 4A. Copper and gold grades are expected to decline over the remainder of the year as we process a higher proportion of Phase 6 ore, but we are well positioned to meet our 2019 copper and gold production guidance.”

“Rio Tinto, as a project manager, has advised that it has completed a review of the fit-out and commissioning issues at Shaft 2 and it now expects Shaft 2 to be completed by the end of October 2019. Turquoise Hill will review the cause and impact of this further delay to Shaft 2.”

As expected, mill throughput in the last quarter decreased by 3.2 percent since the first quarter of 2018 due to the concentrator processing harder Phase 4 ore and planned plant maintenance. This was offset by higher copper and gold mill head grades as mining advanced into the high-grade zone of Phase 4A, compared to the first quarter of last year when lower grade Phase 6 was processed.

The company also announced that recovery rates benefited from the processing of higher-grade ore, with copper and gold recovery rates up by 5.4 percent and 27.4 percent respectively over the first quarter of 2018. Copper production rose by 18.2 percent in the last 12 months due to increased head grade and recovery rate. Meanwhile, gold production increased 187.6 percent over the first quarter of 2018 primarily due to a 135.2 percent hike in head grade resulting from the increased contribution of Phase 4A.

Average gold mill head grades are expected to decline significantly over the remainder of 2019, particularly in the second half as softer, lower grade Phase 6 ore, and some material from mine stockpiles are processed. Average copper mill head grades are also expected to be lower over the remainder of the year.

Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce 125,000 to 155,000 tons of copper and 180,000 to 220,000 ounces of gold in concentrates for 2019. Mill throughput for 2019 is expected to be approximately 40 million tons, according to Turquoise Hill.

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan

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