Oyu Tolgoi Sets Quarterly Record

Turquoise Hill Resources announced third-quarter production for Oyu Tolgoi, which included setting an all-time high record for quarterly material mined of more than 25 million metric tons (mt).

Ore extraction and stripping at a new mining area totalled more than 25 million mt during third-quarter operations.

This record includes stripping for Phase 4, which is the next area of high-grade ore. In the third quarter, concentrator throughput declined 4% over the second quarter due to planned maintenance and conveyor belt repairs. Copper production declined 9.9% over the second quarter as a result of lower recovery from Phase 6 ore. As expected, gold production declined 47.1% over the second quarter due to lower grades from the completion of mining Phase 2.

The company continues to expect Oyu Tolgoi to produce 175,000 mt to 195,000 mt of copper in concentrates and 255,000 ounces (oz) to 285,000 oz of gold in concentrates for 2016.

During the third quarter, work began for Shaft 5 sinking and the convey-to-surface box cut excavation while construction of critical on-site facilities continued. Oyu Tolgoi recently signed an additional underground mining and support services contract with Dayan Contract Mining, a joint venture between Hasu Megawatt and Redpath, for the sinking of Shafts 2 and 5. It has an underground workforce of 1,600 people and that is expected to reach 2,400 by the end of 2016.

Based on the 2014 Oyu Tolgoi Technical Report issued in October 2014, ramp up to full production is expected to take approximately seven years. It is anticipated that the underground production schedule in the upcoming 2016 Oyu Tolgoi Technical Report will be consistent with that report.

Ma’aden Mine and Refinery Reach Commercial Production

Ma’aden Aluminium, a joint venture of the Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Ma’aden), 74.9%, and Alcoa, 25.1%, reached commercial production at its bauxite mine and alumina refinery in Saudi Arabia in early October. The mine and refinery are key links in a $10.8 billion, aluminum supply-chain project that includes the bauxite mine and alumina refinery, and an aluminum smelter and rolling mill.

The aluminum smelter at Ras Al Khair on Saudi Arabia’s east coast produced its first hot metal in December 2012 and processed imported alumina while waiting for the alumina refinery to come into production. The alumina refinery, also located at Ras Al Khair, has achieved stable operation and will ramp up production until reaching its design capacity of 1.8 million mt/y of alumina by early 2017. At full production, the refinery will fully meet the smelter’s requirement of 1.4 million mt/y of alumina, with the surplus production to be sold into regional and international markets.

The project’s bauxite mine is located at Al Ba’itha, 600 km northwest of Ras Al Khair. The mine has initial capacity to produce 4 million mt/y of bauxite, which is transported by rail to the alumina refinery.

The smelter has capacity to produce 740,000 mt/y of aluminum metal, and the rolling mill has initial capacity to produce 380,000 mt/y of products that include automotive, building, construction, can and foil stock sheet.

Feasibility Study Advances at BKM Copper Project

Asiamet Resources has reported “excellent progress” on the feasibility study for its Beruang Kanan Main (BKM) copper project in Kalimantan, Indonesia. The company said the study is progressing to plan with mining and geotechnical studies now under way.

Australian Mine Design and Development Pty Ltd. (AMDAD) and PT Ground Risk Management (GRM) have been engaged to undertake the mining engineering and geotechnical components of the feasibility study, respectively. AMDAD’s scope of work includes open-pit optimization, production rate assessments and development scenario analysis.

The geotechnical program will be led by GRM, a consultancy that has completed more than 100 geotechnical assignments across the Indonesian archipelago in the past eight years, more than 50 of which have been based in Kalimantan where the BKM copper deposit is located.

PT Lorax, engaged for the environmental, geoscience and hydrology aspects of the feasibility study, recently completed field activities for the dry season flora and fauna survey and dry season aquatic ecology study. The rock geochemical characterization program, also handled by PT Lorax, has continued with static tests for acid rock drainage and metal leaching evaluations progressing as planned.