Shares in Rio Tinto-controlled Turquoise Hill Resources (TSE,NYSE:TRQ) surged on Monday after Mongolia approved the expansion of the Vancouver-based company’s massive copper-gold mine in the Asian country.
By mid-day Monday Turquoise Hill had gained 7.4% in massive volumes affording the company a $7 billion market value on the New York Stock Exchange. Turquoise Hill owns 66% of the massive project in the Gobi Desert and the Mongolian government the rest.
Mongolian Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg announced on Sunday that his Cabinet has decided to proceed with the nearly $5 billion second phase at Oyu Tolgoi after two years of often bitter negotiations between the government and the Anglo-Australian giant.
Saikhanbileg said in televised address to the country with a population of around 3 million that the project, which could contribute as much as a third of the economy when in full production, was in the national interest reports AFP.
The two camps have been at loggerheads over funding for the underground expansion – where 80% of the resource is located – and during the protracted battle $4.5bn funding commitments led by the World Bank expired and a $100m-plus tax dispute was raised and settled. Construction was halted in October 2013 and resulted in more than 2,000 layoffs at the mine.
Turquoise Hill mined 589,000oz of gold and 148,000t of copper in concentrates last year and expects to produce 600,000oz – 700,000oz of gold and 175,000t to 195,000t of copper in concentrates in 2015.
Oyo Tolgoi phase II is a truly giant project – an updated feasibility study including the underground expansion released in September shows recoverable copper of 24.9 billion pounds, 11.9 million ounces of gold and 78 million ounces of silver over a mine life of 41 years. At today’s metals prices that’s worth an eye-watering $92 billion.
A separate economic assessment to develop Oyu Tolgoi further and include other deposits at the property shows just what a rich find Oyu Tolgoi really was. This scenario provides a 94 year mine life and recoverable copper of 56.5 billion pounds, 27.9 million ounces of gold and 195.2 million ounces of silver, pushing the value of the mine to closer to $200 billion.
Image of traditional Naadam festivities at Oyu Tolgoi in 2012 courtesy of the company.