Partnership for Future of Mining: Geotechnical Capability Development Launched Successfully
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia -- Oyu Tolgoi LLC and Rio Tinto in partnership with the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) today launched a joint project to build and develop the capability of geotechnical and mining professionals in Mongolia.
Rio Tinto Mongolia and Oyu Tolgoi LLC will provide $2.75 million in funding for the project, which will run until the end of 2025. The initiative was officially launched today with a cooperation agreement signed by Kh. Amarjargal, Country Director of Rio Tinto Mongolia, Armando Torres, Chief Executive Officer of Oyu Tolgoi LLC and B. Ochirbat, President of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. The ceremony was witnessed by L. Enkh-Amgalan, Minister of Education and Science, B. Elbegzaya, head of the Policy Implementation Directorate at the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industries and B.Bold, Chief Executive, Rio Tinto Copper.
During the signing ceremony, Kh. Amarjargal, said: “Rio Tinto is a world leader with 148 years of experience and produces materials that are essential to human progress. An important part of our success has always been our talented engineers, technicians and skilled geotechnicians. I am very happy, particularly as a Mongolian, that the next generation of skilled professionals is going to be trained in Mongolia and that the foundation is being laid for training of nationally and globally competitive mining and geotechnical engineers. I hope that this program, which will provide upskilling opportunities not only in Mongolia but also in Australia, the USA and other global operations of Rio Tinto, will break new ground for the development of the university and the mining industry.”
The Oyu Tolgoi project currently has an experienced geotechnical team in Mongolia. This team has been working in the open pit since the exploration phase and has been using the latest geophysical equipment to measure boreholes, highlighting the importance of geotechnics for Oyu Tolgoi. These skills are integral to ensuring the safety of people, the safety of the operations, and the long-term health of the operations. “Geotechnical studies determine whether it is feasible to use block caving methods in the underground mine, where 80 percent of the Oyu Tolgoi deposit reserves lie. They determine the physical and technical properties, and the stability and design of the underground mine. Therefore, I am very happy that geotechnical specialists, who are the lifeblood of mining and other sectors such as construction and infrastructure development, are being trained in Mongolia.” said Armando Torres.
B. Ochirbat said: “Only the world's top mining schools have a specialised geotechnical faculty. In our country, with the exception of specialists, who studied in the former Soviet Union, it can be said that we have not trained mine geotechnicians. However, the funding from Rio Tinto and Oyu Tolgoi enables our University to have an internationally accredited geotechnical course. This will bring us one step closer to achieving our goal of becoming a competitive research centre in Asia, enabling us to enrol students not only from Mongolia but also from other countries, and train mining professionals. This project is breaking new ground in higher education in Mongolia as it paves the way to develop education and research through leveraging the University-Corporate Partnership.”
About the Project
On 19 April 2019, Oyu Tolgoi LLC and the School of Geology and Mining of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology signed a Memorandum of Understanding on “Mining Geotechnical Professionals Capability Development Project”. In this context, Mongolia’s first bachelor's degree program in geotechnics has been launched and currently 25 first-year students are successfully undertaking the course.
The $2.75 million commitment is the largest private sector investment in education in Mongolia. The support from Rio Tinto and Oyu Tolgoi will build the capability of geotechnical professionals, the lifeblood of underground mining. As part of this commitment, Oyu Tolgoi is planning to establish a rock analysis laboratory at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology with $300,000, and under a tripartite agreement signed on 1 April 2021, $2.42 million will be provided by Rio Tinto Mongolia and Oyu Tolgoi. The project, which will run until 2025, will jointly address a shortage of skills required for mining, especially underground mining, and the challenges facing production. The project will result in the development and international accreditation at a bachelor's and master's level in geotechnics in Mongolia and a research-based curriculum as follows:
- MUST will have an internationally recognised program
- Highly competitive graduates
- Increased research output for the mining industry
- State-of-the-art mining geotechnical laboratory
- Increased opportunities for joint international research
- Continuous professional development of lecturers and highly skilled faculty
- Model program for higher education reform and development, a pressing need in Mongolia.
Rio Tinto Mongolia
Category: Oyu Tolgoi