Concentrator, Oyu Tolgoi

Oyu Tolgoi

Oyu Tolgoi 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

Copper and gold



First production


Copper production


Gold production



2023 figures


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 mine 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

1The 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).

Innovation at Oyu Tolgoi

Most of the value lies deep underground and to reach the ore body we are building a world-class underground mine. It includes a state-of-the-art control room to oversee the operation that will have approximately 200 kilometres of tunnels.

We will use leading underground mining technology known as block caving to mine the ore body. Block caving is technically complex, but it is also one of the safest and most cost-effective methods of mining ore from deep below the ground as it uses the force of gravity.

Put simply, a void is created under the ore body, which then collapses gradually under its own weight. The ore passes through ‘funnels’ in the rock, known as draw points. A series of lateral tunnels over several levels are used to extract the ore and to haul it for crushing before it is transported to the surface via shaft or conveyor belt.

At Oyu Tolgoi, we are using technology to build a connected mine and keep our people safe. We are installing a wireless network to connect our people and equipment underground with the teams on the surface. All team members have a Personal Location Indicator, which allows us to track their whereabouts, providing critical information during an emergency. Similar sensors allow us to track the location and performance of all equipment and we have real time monitoring of atmospheric conditions. The team in Mongolia are supported by the Rio Tinto Underground Mining Centre, which connects our caving experts in the Brisbane hub with our operations team at Oyu Tolgoi. These groups work together to improve safety and productivity performance by using the vast amount of data being collected.

5 Shafts

Deepest reaching 1.3KM

5.5m x 5m

Average tunnel height & width

See how we use block caving to transport the ore body at Oyu Tolgoi


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.

At peak production, Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce 480,0002 tonnes of copper per year on average, from 2028 to 2036, from the open pit and underground. By 2030 it is expected to be the fourth largest copper mine in the world.

2 This production target (stated as recovered metal) for the Oyu Tolgoi underground and open pit mines was previously reported in a release to the market on 16 December 2020 (market release). All material assumptions underpinning the production target continue to apply and have not materially changed.

Latest Oyu Tolgoi releases

04 December 2023


Улаанбаатар хот, Монгол Улс – Уул уурхайн үндэстэн дамнасан Рио Тинто групп Нэгдсэн Үндэстний Байгууллагын Боловсрол, Шинжлэх ухаан, Соёлын байгууллага ЮНЕСКО-той тогтвортой хөгжилд чиглэсэн санаачилгуудыг дэмжих урт хугацааны түншлэлийн гэрээ байгууллаа.Гэрээнд гарын үсэг зурах ёслолын үеэр талууд соёлын болон геологийн өвөөр дамжуулан Монголын тогтвортой аялал жуулчлалыг дэмжих анхны төслөө тани

04 December 2023

UNESCO and Rio Tinto sign partnership to support sustainable development in Mongolia

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia -– Global mining company Rio Tinto and UNESCO have today agreed to establish a comprehensive long-term partnership that is specifically designed to foster sustainable development initiatives in Mongolia.During the signing ceremony held in Ulaanbaatar, the parties announced their first joint project, focused on promoting sustainable tourism through cultural and geo-heritage in

13 March 2023

Underground production celebrated at Oyu Tolgoi

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Prime Minister of Mongolia, Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene, today joined Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm 1.3 kilometres underground to celebrate the commencement of underground production from the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in the Gobi Desert. This was followed by a ceremony with Oyu Tolgoi employees and leaders, Government of Mongolia representa

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Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project

Our world-class open pit mine and underground project using block-caving mining techniques to extract the ore and transport it to the surface.

Contact Oyu Tolgoi

Monnis Tower
Chinggis Avenue 15
Sukhbaatar District
Ulaanbaatar 14240