Turquoise Hill Resources says the Oyu Tolgoi Copper-Gold-Silver Project in southern Mongolia continues to operate at record levels with December quarter throughput exceeding nameplate capacity and 2015 copper production above the annual guidance.
The company’s CEO Jeff Tygesen said in the fourth quarter production report that productivity improvements implemented throughout 2015 in the concentrator had resulted in the increased throughput. “Thanks to the focus and dedication of Oyu Tolgoi’s workforce, we beat our 2015 copper production guidance and met our gold target.”
For the December quarter throughput increased 8.5% over the previous quarter, reaching an all-time high. Copper production for the quarter increased 2.3% over the September quarter5 due to higher volumes. As a result of mining higher grades from phase 2 and higher volumes, fourth quarter gold production increased 68.3% over the third quarter.
Copper production for 2015 of 202,200 tonnes exceeded the guidance of 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes and annual gold production of 653,000 ounces met 2015 guidance of 600,000 to 700,000 ounces.
For 2015, Oyu Tolgoi’s second full year of production, the mine operated at record levels. Compared to 2014 results, 2015 mined production increased 19.3%, concentrator throughput increased 23.9%, concentrate production increased 39.9%, copper production increased 36.3% and gold production increased 10.9%.
Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce 175,000 to 195,000 tonnes of copper and 210,000 to 260,000 ounces of gold in concentrates for 2016. The majority of 2016 gold production is expected in the first half of the year.
In December Oyu Tolgoi signed a $4.4 billion project finance facility, which was an unprecedented milestone for Turquoise Hill. Work continues toward completing the 2015 feasibility study, including the updated capital estimate and securing all necessary permits for the development of the underground mine.
Once these steps have been completed, which is expected in the current quarter, the company expects a formal ‘notice to proceed’ decision by the boards of Turquoise Hill, Rio Tinto and Oyu Tolgoi early in the second quarter.
Turquoise Hill has a 66% interest in Oyu Tolgoi with the remainder held by the Government of Mongolia. Rio Tinto has a majority interest in Turquoise Hill.