Rio Tinto is set to accelerate its underground development work at the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine with the completion of shaft two at the Mongolian site.
The critical piece of infrastructure is 10 metres in diameter and sunk to approximately 1.3 kilometres below the surface.
It can carry 300 people per cage cycle, as opposed to the 60 people per cage cycle for shaft one. Its 48-tonne capacity cage can also be used for supporting logistics, transporting supplies and components for developing the mine.
Rio Tinto group executive for growth and innovation Stephen McIntosh said the completion of shaft two would drastically improve Oyu Tolgoi’s productivity.
“This is an important milestone because shaft two significantly improves overall productivity of the underground development,” McIntosh said.
“It allows us to move more material, equipment and people between the surface and underground.
“We have made very good progress in the past few months and completing shaft two provides additional momentum as we move towards a definitive estimate for the development of this world-class ore body in the second half of 2020.”
Rio Tinto owns approximately two-thirds (64 per cent) of the project through its majority shareholding in Turquoise Hill Resources, which is the English translation of Oyu Tolgoi.
The Mongolian Government holds the other 34 per cent of the project, in what is the country’s largest ever financial undertaking.
The mine, which was discovered in 2001, has an expected operation life of more than 50 years.