Since January, the movement of goods and people within Mongolia has been restricted within and across its borders to prevent the spreading of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Following the first positive test for COVID-19 in Mongolia on March 10 2020, the Government of Mongolia increased its restrictions on flights in and out of the country and on the movement of goods and people within and across its borders. Oyu Tolgoi LLC is complying with all of these directives and is working closely with the Mongolian authorities to prioritize the health and safety of all its employees and the wider community.
During this time of heightened uncertainty, the Oyu Tolgoi Business Resilience Team is meeting on a daily basis and taking a considered and risk-based approach to managing our response and actions for the prevention of COVID-19. As part of a range of broader measures, we have temperature and health screenings in place, and a dedicated hotline for employees who are on or off site to call in for advice or information sharing.
To assist with the battle against COVID-19, Oyu Tolgoi LLC has donated MNT100 million to the Government of Mongolia, and through the Oyu Tolgoi-sponsored Gobi Oyu Development Support Fund, we further committed MNT200 million to the Umnugovi emergency committee, and MNT10 million to the Khanbogd Emergency Commission for prevention support. We are also sharing our prevention and hygiene controls we have in place with local companies as they prepare to resume their operations and border crossings.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, the open pit of the Oyu Tolgoi mine continues to operate and deliver shipments of copper concentrate to its customers across the border.
Work on the underground project continues, however there is restricted access for teams from Oyu Tolgoi, Rio Tinto and our construction partners to oversee development and provide specialist technical services. The availability of specialist service providers at the site is essential to safely continue work on technical activities including but not limited to such projects as the headframe commissioning of Shafts 3 and 4.
The full impact of the slowdown on the underground project is unknown at this time and the company will update the market once more information is available. The mine plan for the Underground Project currently remains on track to be finalized in the first half of this year, with a definitive estimate to be provided for the development of this world-class orebody in the second half of 2020.
"We fully support the Government of Mongolia's decisive actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19," stated Ulf Quellmann, Turquoise Hill's Chief Executive Officer. "The health and safety of our employees and the wider community is our first priority. We will continue to work with our employees, local communities and the Government of Mongolia to manage the situation."
Source: Turquoise Hill
Date: Mar 16, 2020