Rio Tinto inks agreement with Turquoise Hill over Oyu Tolgoi
Rio Tinto and Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) have netred into a binding Heads of Agreement (HoA)over a $2.3bn funding plan for the completion of underground works at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia.
The Funding Plan addresses the estimated remaining known funding requirement to build on and replace the arrangements established in the Memorandum of Understanding that Rio Tinto and TRQ previously entered into on 9 September, 2020.
Under the HoA, subject to securing approval by Oyu Tolgoi LLC and any required support from the Government of Mongolia, and subject to timing, availability, and terms and conditions being acceptable to both parties, Rio Tinto and TRQ will:
- pursue re-profiling of principal debt repayments up to $1.4bn with lenders under the existing project finance arrangements to better align with the revised mine plan, project timing and cash flows;
- seek to raise up to $500mn in senior supplemental debt (SSD) under the existing project financing arrangements from selected international financial institutions;
- Rio Tinto has committed to address any potential shortfalls from the re-profiling and additional SSD of up to $750mn by providing a senior co-lending facility (the “Co-Lending Facility”) on the same terms as OT’s project financing; and
- TRQ has committed to complete a rights offering or placement of common shares for up to $500mn to satisfy any remaining funding shortfall within six months of the Co-Lending Facility becoming available.
Rio Tinto Copper Chief Executive Bold Baatar commented: “This agreement and alignment with TRQ represents a major milestone in the continued development of Oyu Tolgoi, which is expected to become one of the world’s largest copper mines and a significant contributor to the Mongolian economy for years to come.
Commencing the re-profiling whilst concurrently listening, engaging and resolving the concerns of the Government of Mongolia are critical steps to maintaining momentum on the timely delivery of the Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project.”
Turquoise Hill Resources
“We are pleased to have reached a constructive and equitable agreement with Rio Tinto to fund the Oyu Tolgoi underground development,” stated Steve Thibeault, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Turquoise Hill. “With a binding funding agreement now in place that sets out a process along a known timeline, we will be able to move ahead as expeditiously as possible with the development of the underground project at Oyu Tolgoi.
We remain committed to continue delivering a benefit to all stakeholders, including Mongolia and its citizens, and to delivering significant long-term value for TRQ as this project progresses.”
Rio Tinto and TRQ have agreed to jointly obtain an order dismissing the current arbitration on a without prejudice basis, including an order vacating the interim measures order.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.