Rio Tinto is working with the Government of Mongolia to operate the Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper project in accordance with Mongolia’s coronavirus related restrictions.
Since January, Mongolian authorities have limited the movement of goods and people within and across its border, to contain the spread of coronavirus.
This has recently escalated further as the country confirmed its first case of the virus.
Although work at the Oyu Tolgoi underground section has continued, progress has been slowed as a result of these safety measures.
Rio Tinto, Oyu Tolgoi and their construction partners are overseeing the development and providing specialist technical services, such as the headframe commissioning of Shafts 3 and 4 under restricted access.
While the full impact of the slowdown is not yet known, Rio Tinto believes that the underground project is still on track to be completed in the first half of this year.
The open pit is still operating despite the impact of the coronavirus and Rio Tinto is continuing to deliver copper concentrate shipments to customers.
“Our focus is ensuring the safety and health of our people at Oyu Tolgoi,” Rio Tinto copper and diamonds chief executive Arnaud Soirat said.
“We support the decisive action taken by the government to limit the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
“It has inevitably resulted in a restriction on the movement of goods and people in the country and this is slowing down construction activity at the underground project.”
As Rio Tinto and its partners attempt to minimise the disruption to operations, the company will continue to update the market on the full impact on operations as more information becomes available.