Copper & gold
South Gobi, Mongolia
Oyu Tolgoi, in the South Gobi region of Mongolia, is one of the largest known copper and gold deposits in the world. It is also one of the most modern, safe and sustainable operations in the world.
The Oyu Tolgoi underground development consolidates our position as a leading global producer of copper, a material essential for decarbonisation and electrification. When the underground is fully operational, it will be the fourth-largest copper mines in the world.
Open pit mining began at Oyu Tolgoi in 2011 and the copper concentrator, the largest industrial complex ever built in Mongolia, began processing mined ore into copper concentrate in 2013. Current infrastructure at Oyu Tolgoi will allow the mine to operate for decades to come.
In January 2022, the Oyu Tolgoi Board approved the beginning of underground operations. This step unlocks the most valuable part of the mine, with sustainable underground production expected in the first half of 2023.
Oyu Tolgoi is jointly owned by the government of Mongolia, which has 34% ownership, and Rio Tinto, which owns 66%. Rio Tinto manages the operation on behalf of the owners.
Copper: Essential for a low-carbon future
At peak production, Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce 500,000 tonnes1 per annum of copper – equivalent to what’s needed to build:
Wind turbines per day
Electric battery vehicles per day
1 The 500ktpa target (stated as recovered metal) for the Oyu Tolgoi underground and open pit mines is underpinned 17 per cent by Proved Ore Reserves and 83 per cent by Probable Ore Reserves for the years 2028-2036. These production targets have been scheduled from current mine designs by Competent Persons in accordance with the requirements of the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Minerals Resources and Ore Reserves, 2012 Edition (the JORC code).
Global demand for copper is set to grow, driven by urbanisation, industrialisation and increasing requirements for renewable energy: copper plays a key role in electrification and power production. For example, a wind turbine capable of generating a megawatt of power – enough to supply several hundred homes – needs more than three tonnes of copper.
Given its significance to the global copper industry and the likely multi-generational nature of the business, Oyu Tolgoi is being developed with a distinctly long-term view. Guided by Oyu Tolgoi's vision, 'From natural wealth to enduring value, knowledge and skill', the partners and stakeholders involved in the project are focused on delivering a safe and globally competitive copper business that contributes to and facilitates the prosperity of Mongolia.