Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi venture, one of the world’s top copper and gold projects in Mongolia, has replaced three board members amid plans to break an impasse with the Ulanbataar government over financing issues for the $6.6 billion asset.
The new directors are Davaadorj Ganbold, executive director at project partner Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC; Ganzorig Temuulen, deputy director of parent company Erdenes MGL LLC; and Chuluuntseren Otgochuluu, director-general of the Ministry of Mining’s Department of Strategic Policy and Planning, Ganbold told reporters.
Oyu Tolgoi has stalled amid financing talks over its $5-billion expansion. The Mongolia government, which controls 34% of the project in the South Gobi Desert, maintains overruns are hindering future dividends and wants underground extensions subsidized by concentrate sales pending the resolution of the disagreements.
Rio spokesman Illtud Harri declined to comment on Mongolia’s complaints.
The company manages Oyu Tolgoi through its 51% ownership of Turquoise Hill Resources, which, in turn, owns 66% of the mine itself.
Copper concentrate from Oyu Tolgoi’s open pit began in July. Company representatives had planned to export 300,000 metric tons in 2013, seeking $1 billion in revenue, Mining Minister Davaajav Gankhuyag said in Q3. Although open-pit operations are ongoing, the consequent suspension of underground construction resulted in 1,700 layoffs last month.