Weir Minerals is committed to building local manufacturing capacity and expertise in Mongolia to support local communities and better serve customers.
By Mark S. Kuhar
Weir Minerals has been working with miners in Mongolia for more than two decades and their relationship with the Oyu Tolgoi mine began during the engineering design phase of the project through to construction commissioning and running.
One of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world, Oyu Tolgoi means “Turquoise Hill” and has been a source of copper for the Mongolian people dating back to the times of Genghis Khan in the 13th century.
To assist with the plant’s construction and commissioning, Weir Minerals opened a service centre in Ulaanbaatar. While this was initially staffed with experienced Weir Minerals engineers from around the world, it was designed to facilitate the training and upskilling of local workers.
“Historically, Mongolia has been an exporter of raw materials and an importer of goods and services. The investments Weir Minerals is making in the local people are an important step in promoting Mongolian manufacturing and gaining experience in new skills such as rubber lining,” said Azjargalbayar Yaichil, Mongolia country manager, Weir Minerals.
“Our employees love the work and are passionate about working with new technologies and acquiring new skills to build manufacturing capabilities.”
Today, the service centre is primarily staffed by local workers who’ve been trained in the manufacture and application of a variety of Linatex rubber products, including moulded products and rubber lining of key equipment.
“Weir Minerals has been in Mongolia for more than two decades. We’re here for the long term, and what we want to do is help develop the local people through employment, training them and assisting them on their journey,” explained Mark Doyle, global manager Rubber, Spools & Hoses, Weir Minerals.
Through this service centre, Weir Minerals is a proud participant in Oyu Tolgoi’s “Made in Mongolia” initiative to develop sustainable local supply chains for the raw materials, products and services that underpin operations at the Oyu Tolgoi Mine.
In addition to the locally manufactured Linatex rubber products bearing the “Монголд зориулж монголд уйлдвэрлэв” (Made in Mongolia) sticker, Weir Minerals invested in developing partners who in turn supply its service centre with key equipment and services such as fabrication, blasting and painting service, labour support and consumable supply.
“We have a duty, when we’re operating in countries such as Mongolia, to develop local capabilities. ‘Made in Mongolia’ is a fantastic program to foster local labour and local suppliers to deliver products to the mine, and we’re very proud of our role in building sustainable local employment,” explained Campbell Stewart, managing director, South East and North Asia, Weir Minerals.
But it’s probably Ankhbayar Enkhsaikhan, maintenance manager for the Oyu Tolgoi Mine, who puts it best: “The more we do in Mongolia, the more money generated by our natural resources stays in Mongolia to help the people of Mongolia.”
The participation in “Made in Mongolia” is just one example of Weir Minerals’ worldwide dedication to engaging with local supply chains and building expertise through sustainable employment in the communities where it operates.
Weir was the first company in Scotland to set up an apprentice school and “our commitment to training is as strong in the 21st century as it was in the 19th. We’re proud that our businesses can provide experience and training to develop the next generation of engineers,” the company stated.
Information for this article courtesy of Weir Minerals.
Oyu Tolgoi is one of the world’s largest new copper-gold mines and is located in the South Gobi region of Mongolia, approximately 550 km south of the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and 80 km north of the Mongolia-China border.
Oyu Tolgoi has the potential to operate for approximately 100 years from five known mineralized deposits. The first of those (the Oyut deposit) was put into production as an open-pit operation in 2013.
A second deposit, Hugo North (Lift One), is under development as an underground operation and is scheduled to begin sustainable production in 2021. The other three deposits, Hugo North (Lift Two), Hugo South and Heruga, are not yet scheduled for development.
With the current development schedule, Turquoise Hill expects that Oyu Tolgoi will be the world’s third-largest copper producer at peak metal production in 2025¹.
Turquoise Hill expects average production from 2025 to 2030 to be more than 550,000 tonnes of copper and over 450,000 ounces of gold per year, all from the Oyut open pit and the Hugo North Lift One underground operation².
On Oct. 6, 2009, Turquoise Hill Resources and Rio Tinto signed a long-term, comprehensive Investment Agreement with the Government of Mongolia for the construction and operation of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mining complex. The agreement created a partnership between the Mongolian Government – which acquired a 34 per cent interest in the project – and Turquoise Hill Resources, which retained a controlling 66 per cent interest in Oyu Tolgoi. Global miner Rio Tinto, which joined Turquoise Hill Resources as a strategic partner in October 2006, began managing the development of Oyu Tolgoi in December 2010.
1. Based on 2016 Oyu Tolgoi Technical Report assumptions. Ranking based on analysis by Wood Mackenzie metal forecast based on 2018 guidance. Subject to change based on review of second Oyu Tolgoi annual schedule and cost re-forecast outcomes.
2. Subject to change based on review of second Oyu Tolgoi annual schedule and cost re-forecast outcomes.