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"MAXAM has proved to be a safe, reliable and cost-effective supplier"
"MAXAM has proved to be a safe, reliable and cost-effective supplier" "MAXAM has proved to be a safe, reliable and cost-effective supplier"

2017.07.31


Sala stampa - "MAXAM has proved to be a safe, reliable and cost-effective supplier"

Jessica Dovorak, Mine Operations Manager at Oyu Tolgoi, speaks about the importance of one of the biggest gold-copper projects in the world, the challenges it entails and the role blasting solutions play in it.

What does Oyu Tolgoi mean for Mongolia? And for the worldwide mining industry?
Oyu Tolgoi is one of the most important developments in the global copper industry. At full production it will be one of the largest copper-gold mines in the world and will contribute a significant amount of global supply.

For Mongolia it is a very important project – the biggest ever private investment in the country and is already contributing significantly to economic growth and development.

By the end of 2015, the workforce was more than 95 percent Mongolian, well above the 90 percent minimum commitment that Oyu Tolgoi has made during the mine’s operations (Rio Tinto, 2016).

The indirect impact of the project is also significant; with more than 630 national businesses working with Oyu Tolgoi in 2015, accounting for more than half of procurement spend (Rio Tinto, 2016).

How was the process of installing in a remote desert region, the infrastructure needed to run/manage a huge project like this?
The first phase of the project – the open pit mine and the concentrator – was built in around two years. It was, of course, a huge challenge to build such a complex facility in an undeveloped region in temperatures which range from +40 to -40 degrees. All of the infrastructure and equipment had to be constructed from scratch, power and water had to be sourced. Even now the mine has been up and running for a few years, I still think the efforts required to keep the mine running have been quite remarkable.

Open pit operations started in 2013, what’s your assessment on these three years?
When any mine moves from construction to steady-state operations, it takes time to ramp up and then optimise performance. The progress we have seen at Oyu Tolgoi so far has been remarkable. The mine and concentrator are performing well and the business is continuing to focus on safety, reducing costs and increasing productivity even further. Our success in these areas relies heavily on strong partnerships with suppliers like MAXAM.

You’re starting underground construction now, what results do you expect in this new phase of the project?
The underground mine will transform Oyu Tolgoi into a global player in the copper industry. When it is fully operational, Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce more than 500,000 tonnes of copper a year, compared with current annual production of 175,000- 200,000 tonnes. There is a lot of workahead – between five and seven years – to safely construct the mine, which includes more than 200km of lateral tunnels, and tobring it into operation.

What are Oyu Tolgoi’s sustainable economic, social and environmental KPIs?
Despite the remote location of the mine, we are incredibly careful about managing our impact. We are required to meet Mongolian, international and Rio Tinto standards, as well as a host of environmental and social requirements set out by the international banks and institutions who have financed the project. The environmental performance of the mine is very impressive; we are one of the most water-efficient mines of this type in the world and recycle well over 80 percent of our water.

What are the main differences between OT and any other mine you’ve worked at before?
Aside from being a very well developed and run site, most of the international workers who are, or have been, at Oyu
Tolgoi remark on the quality of the workforce. People are incredibly hardworking, proud and diligent. Given that
Oyu Tolgoi is the first operation on this scale in Mongolia, this is truly impressive. There are of course also the challenges of the mine’s location and the climate, but this is manageable.

What role do blasting products and services fulfil at Oyu Tolgoi?
Blasting is one of the first steps in the value chain. In the open pit we typically blast three or four times a week. Getting our blasting right is critical for ensuring productivity. In the last year, we have worked very hard to calibrate our blasting, optimisingthe blast patterns and maximising the explosives density to ensure we obtain the right fragmentation of the ore
ready for extraction and crushing.

With the underground coming on line, there will be significantly more requirements for blasting services. The OT underground will use the block caving method of mining. This is where the ore is blasted from below and then collapses under its own weight before being extracted and sent to the surface for processing.

What requirements must a blasting products and services supplier meet in order to work for OT?
Above anything else, it is important a supplier shares our commitment to safety. There are obvious risks to working with
explosives and we simply won’t use a product or service unless these risks are effectively managed to ensure the safety
of the workforce and the communities surrounding the mine.

We also need products which are reliable and a service which delivers on time at the right cost. MAXAM has demonstrated these requirements and in 2015 was recognised as our “supplier of the year”. I would like to thank MAXAM for being a part of the team here at OT.


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