Rio Tinto inks agreement with Turquoise Hill over Oyu Tolgoi

By Daniel Brightmore
Rio Tinto has agreed an updated funding plan with Turquoise Hill Resources for the completion of the Oyu Tolgoi underground project in Mongolia...

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.

Oyu Tolgoi

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

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.

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