Shipments of Rio Tinto’s Mongolia copper stalled by China import snags (Globe and Mail – October 16, 2013)

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SYDNEY — Reuters – Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd. could be forced to amass a mountain of copper concentrate at its new $6-billion (U.S.) Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia while Chinese buyers resolve a lengthy customs impasse with their government.

The Oyu Tolgoi concentrator continued to ramp up production in the third quarter and is now operating at maximum processing capacity of 100,000 tonnes of ore a day, said Toronto-listed Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. of Vancouver, which runs Oyu Tolgoi and is 66 per cent owned by Rio Tinto.

Oyu Tolgoi was supposed to start shipping copper concentrate to China shortly after the mine opened in July. But instead has been forced to stockpile the material while buyers negotiate with Chinese customs officials over import approvals.

“Oyu Tolgoi’s customers are making good progress with Chinese customs officials to resolve matters with purchased concentrate at the border,” Turquoise Hill chief executive officer Kay Priestly said in a statement.

Turquoise Hill said it was sticking to a forecast to produce between 75,000 and 85,000 tonnes of copper in concentrates at Oyu Tolgoi in 2013

“Shipments of concentrate are expected to be aligned with production rates by the end of 2013,” it said.

The mine shipped 38,000 tonnes of concentrate to a bonded warehouse in China between July and Sept. 18 and another 122,000 tonnes were being held in inventory at the mine, the company said previously. Data from Turquoise Hill on Tuesday showed the concentrate contained 43,700 tonnes of copper metal.

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