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Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) Q2 2019 Earnings Call Transcript

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Turquoise Hill Resources LTD (NYSE: TRQ)

Q2 2019 Earnings Call

August 1, 2019, 8:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

 

Operator

Good morning. My name is Jessica, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Turquoise Hill Resources Q2 2019 financial results and review of operations conference call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speaker's remarks, there will be a question and answer session. If you would like to ask a question during this time simply press *1 on your telephone keypad. Thank you. Roy McDowell, you may begin your conference.

Roy McDowell -- Head of Investor Relations and Communications

Thank you, Jessica. Good morning. I'm Roy McDowell, Head of Investor Relations and Communications. Welcome to our second quarter 2019 financial results conference call. Yesterday we released our second quarter 2019 results press release, NDNA, and financial statements. These items are available on our website and CNR. With me on the call are Ulf Quellmann, our CEO, Luke Colton, our CFO, and JoAnne Dudley, our COO.

This call and presentation include certain forward-looking statements and information. We refer you to the forward-looking statement section of the annual information form dated March 13th, 2019, as supplemented by your NDNA for the three months, ended June 30th, 2019. And now I'd like to turn the call over to our Chief Executive Officer, Ulf Quellmann.

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Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Roy, and good morning to everyone. Thank you for joining us this morning our 2019 financial earnings call for the 2nd Quarter. Today we provide you with both color on our 2nd Quarter 2019 operational and financial results, which we released yesterday. As well as additional clarity and context regarding the revised capital expenditure and expected production date range for the underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi. These updates reconfirm that Oyu Tolgoi remains a world-class mine, that will generate billions of dollars of free cash flow per year.

We turn to Slide 4, operationally, the second quarter of 2019 was another strong quarter for the company, both from a production as well as a safety perspective. We continue to build on our excellent safety track record, as Oyu Tolgoi achieved another strong all injury frequency rate of 0.12 for 200,000 hours worked during the 6 months ended June 30th. As you know, safety is a top priority for us, and it is at the heart of everything that we do. Safely mining this deposit is essential to who we are and it's critical to our continued success.

During the 2nduarter of 2019, Oyu Tolgoi produced 36,156 tons of copper and 71,825 ounces of gold. The 6-month production totals of 85,000 tons of copper and 192,000 ounces of gold, have kept Oyu Tolgoi on track to achieve its full-year 2019 operational guidance of 125,000 to 155,000 tons of copper while allowing us to increase the upper end of the gold production target from 220,000 to 230,000 ounces.

Open-pit operations are expected to continue transitioning from the higher-grade Phase 4 ore to the lower grade Phase 6 ore through the remainder of the year, while the mill thru-put for 2019 is expected to remain in the 40 million tons range.

Revenue in the 2nd Quarter of 2019 was $382.7 million, an increase of 12% compared to the second quarter of 2018, primarily reflecting the large increase in gold production. Turning to the underground development, we completed a number of final construction activities in the second quarter of 2019, including the central heating plant upgrade, offices, and control room facility. The Shaft 2 jaw crusher has been no-load commissioned and rope up preparation for Shaft 2 was also well advanced in the 2nd Quarter, with related work expected to continue through the 3rd Quarter.

It's important to note that the underground development completed to date has not been affected by pending changes to our mine design. All infrastructure developed to date remains usable and in the appropriate locations for all the mine design options under review.

I would also like to note that Turquoise Hill is heading into the 2nd half of 2019 on a solid financial footing with a strong balance sheet. At the end of June, Turquoise Hill had approximately $3 million of available liquidity, which is expected to fund our operations and underground development through the end of 2020.

Breaking down our operating performance during the 2nd Quarter of 2019, copper production remains steady compared to the year-ago period. While 2nd Quarter 2019 gold production increased by 43.7% year over year. The higher gold production is attributable to a 19% boost in head grades, resulting from the higher-grade Phase 4A ore.

Mill throughput increased by 2.3% in the 2nd Quarter of 2019 compared to the year-ago period due to increased mill availability. The improved gold grades and the resulting gold credits resulted in significant improvements in our cash cost and all-in sustaining costs. Our 2nd Quarter C-1 cash costs and all-in sustaining costs were $0.79, $1.54 versus $1.72 and $2.42, respectively.

If we turn to the next slide. We also continue to make significant progress in our underground development this past quarter. During the 2nd Quarter of 2019, we spent $292 million on underground expansion. The total underground expansion spends from January 1st, 2016 to June 30th, 2019 was approximately $2.9 billion, with the company executing effectively on a number of projects through the 2nd Quarter.

At Shaft 2, construction work is progressing well and holding to the October 2019 commissioning schedule. The auxiliary hoist and emergency hoist inspections have been conducted. Regulatory approval has been received. These hoists are now in use for the final Shaft 2 installation and commissioning work.

Turquoise Hill also completes an independent review of the construction and peroration for rope up in July, verifying the schedule and the associated risks. Service hoist, no-load commission commenced in June, rope-up work commenced in late July, the 1st of the two remaining hoists to be commissioned in Shaft 2.

Service cage is at the shaft collar, ready for installation. The service hoist counterweight has been installed in the shaft. Shaft 2 jaw crusher has also been no-load commissioned and is ready for load-commission once the production hoist rope up is completed.

In addition to the progress made on Shaft 2, Shaft 3 and 4 have lead steps of 52 meters and 80 meters, respectively. And in June, the team achieved a record of 1,000 meters of lateral underground development. And we've also commissioned a service discharged conveyer, which links Shaft 2 to the existing overland conveyor.

Switching gears and turning to our relationship with our partners, the government of Mongolia. On the 3rd of May 2019, a summary of the working group report was received by Oyu Tolgoi, and on May the 6th, Oyu Tolgoi provided the economic standing committee of parliament with a written response to the summary of the working group report. As an outcome of the hearing, a new working group of 9 members of Parliament was established to draft a resolution directing cabinet on recommendations related to Oyu Tolgoi.

This newly established working group is in the process of drafting the resolution, with the draft resolution expected to be discussed during an extortionary session to be held by September 1st. In the interim, we continue to work with the government on multiple fronts including, of course, moving the Tavan Tolgoi powerplant project forward.

Regarding the progression of the powerplant, Oyu Tolgoi has developed the technical specifications of the plant. It has commenced a competitive tender process, with a view to awarding a turnkey engineering procurement and construction, or EPC contract, for its construction. And it is progressing related commercial arrangements including financing discussions.

The powerplant will be majority-owned by Oyu Tolgoi and will be situated close to the Tavan Tolgoi coalfields.

I would now like to turn the call over to our Chief Financial Officer, Luke Colton, to speak about Turquoise Hill's financial performance for the 2nd Quarter of 2019.

Luke Colton -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, all, and good morning to everyone on the call. If I could get you to, please turn to Slide 10, and I'll give you a summary of our key financial metrics for Q2 of 2019.

A strong revenue in the quarter. It was $382.7 million, which represents an increase of 12% compared to $341.7 million in the 2nd Quarter of 2018. This increase in revenue was largely attributable to an increase in gold revenue driven by a significant increase in gold production as OT benefited from the processing of Phase 4 ore, that contained higher gold head grades.

This was partially offset by an 11% decrease in average copper prices in the 2nd Quarter of 2019 compared to the year-ago period.

Cash generated from operating activities in the 2nd Quarter of 2019 was $141.5 million, compared to $48.4 million in the 2nd Quarter of 2018. Cash generated from operating activities before interest and tax were healthy $262.6 million in the 2nd Quarter of 2019, compared to $149.6 million in the year-ago period. And that primarily reflects the impact of higher sales revenue and benefits incurred from movements in working capital.

The company recorded a loss of $736.7 million for the 2nd Quarter of 2019, and a loss attributable to owners of Turquoise Hill of $446.5 million or $0.22 per share. This is compared to income of $204.4 million. An income is attributable to owners of Turquoise Hill of $171.3 million or $0.09 per share in the 2nd Quarter of 2018. These results reflect the impact of a non-cash impairment charge of $0.6 billion, which was recorded in Q2, 2019, resulting in the projected increase in development capex, and possible further delay for sustainable production.

In addition, the Q2 2019 results were affected by a further non-cash adjustment to reflect deferred tax asset derecognition of about $300 million, which again resulted directly from the updated operating mine plan assumptions. Which led to an overall weakening in future taxable income productions against which carry forward losses could be utilized.

Capital expenditure was $335 million in the 2nd Quarter compared to $318 million in the 1st Quarter of 2018. And this includes $292 million in underground development spend, with the remainder related to our open-pit activities. In addition, OT had further capital commitments of $0.9 billion as of the 30th of June 2019.

The company's operational unit costs were excellent in the 2nd Quarter of 2019. If you could turn to Slide 11, OT C1 cash costs per pound of copper in the 2nd Quarter of 2019 decreased to $0.79 per pound, and that's a decrease of 54% compared to the $1.72 per pound in the year-ago quarter. And it's in line with the cash costs from Q1 of 2019.

The primary reason for the significant decrease in C1 cash costs was due to the benefit incurred from additional gold credits, arising from the $82.7 increase in gold revenue period over period. In addition, C1 cash costs benefited from a higher deferred stripping offset as a result of differences in mine sequencing in the periods.

Our all-in sustaining costs for the 2nd Quarter of 2019 also improved significantly when compared to the 2nd Quarter of 2018, going from $2.42 to $1.54 per pound of copper produced. Consistent with our C1 cash costs, this decrease was primarily due to the impact of higher gold sales and higher differed stripping offset in mining costs. This was partially offset by an increase in the amount of sustaining capital expenditure in the period, as well as increased royalty expenses associated with higher sales revenue and increased powerplant study costs.

Turquoise Hill's liquidity balance at the end of the 2nd Quarter of 2019 was approximately $3 billion, and we have $1.6 billion in cash on our balance sheet.

With that, I'll hand it back to you, Ulf.

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Luke. As I mentioned earlier on the call, and Luke just touched on, Turquoise Hill is heading into the 2nd half of 2019 with a strong balance sheet. The company has approximately $3 billion of liquidity, which is expected to fund the operations as well as the underground development through the end of the next year 2020.

Taking into consideration the estimated impacts of the recently announced increase to the underground development capital, as well as delays to first sustainable production, the company expects to need incremental financing to sustain its underground development beyond 2020.

As it's been previously noted, Turquoise Hill and Oyu Tolgoi have the option to raise additional external financing to assist in funding underground development going forward, including doing commissioning and ramp-ups.

Turquoise Hill has engaged the services of external financial advisors to consider all available funding alternatives. We've also had conversations with the existing lenders of the existing project finance facility in the context of the additional $1.6 billion of supplemental debt capacity that is available.

With a project as robust as the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine, we're confident that we'll be able to secure funding on a timely basis.

Let me now turn the call over to JoAnne Dudley, our Chief Operating Officer, who will provide you with additional insights into the geotechnical issues and potential solutions we're working through.

JoAnne Dudley -- Chief Operating Officer

Thank you, all. Hello, everybody. I'll start on Slide 13, the underground development update.

Improved rock mass information and geotechnical data modeling have concerns that there are stability risks with components of the existing mine design. To address these risks, a number of mine design refinements are under consideration to determine the final design of Panel 0.

Information in hand indicates that the Oyu Tolgoi mineral reserve will not be materially impacted by the mine design alternatives being considered. However, ongoing reviews will be conducted as the work progresses.

As many of you would have seen, we announced on July 15th that we anticipate the updated mine design and schedule for the underground to result in an increase of $1.2 billion to $1.9 billion in the capital spend for the project. And a 16 to 30-month delay from the original feasibility study guidance in 2016.

In addition to working closely with Rio Tinto, Turquoise Hill has engaged independent 3rd consultants, to provide the company with insight and technical support into the planning and estimate process that is currently under way. Independent experts are also providing insight into the progress of key construction work at the mine site.

Now if you would turn to Slide 14. Following a period of additional data collection, the model updates two phases of geotechnical modeling work are planned to inform the staged mine design update. The geotechnical modeling is expected to continue into early 2020, with final mine decisions to be made at that time. the company will continue to focus on minimizing impact to project schedule and cost as it works through the detailed analysis and testing of each mine design modification. And we'll update the market in conjunction with the progression of the Definitive Estimate review as appropriate.

As can be seen on Slide 14, the design modifications being considered are focused around the Panel 0 mining area and are limited to several refinements. All the other major infrastructure, such as shafts and primary crushers remain unchanged from the Feasibility Study plan.

The mine design work that will form the basis for the Definitive Estimate mine plan focuses on several design alternatives. They're aimed at reducing risk to production ramp-up in light of additional geotechnical information we now have. Productivity rates are also under review as a result of experience to date.

The Feasibility Study plan included mid access drives in Panel 0 development to reduce the lateral development requirements to get to 1st production. In other words, to reduce the number of meters being mined. Modeling has indicated that these drives may introduce geotechnical related risk into the ramp-up phase, and therefore we're collecting additional data and analyzing it to make sure that we understand the geotechnical risk before we make a final decision on the continued incorporation of mid access drives.

With almost 19,000 meters of lateral development complete, there's a need to update productivity assumptions and reforecast the time to the first production based on experience to date. The manager has engaged a 3rd party expert consultant to understand productivity opportunities as well as limitations. The intention is to update productivity assumptions to reflect better experience as well as potential improvements in development rates that we'll use in the definitive estimate.

Geotechnical information gathered since mining recommended has highlighted the need to review the planned location of all handling infrastructure which supports Panel 0. It is important to take the opportunity to make decisions that minimize the long-term risk prior to the development of the available.

The ore passers were designed to be mined in the central area of Panel 0, but a design modification to relocate this infrastructure to outside the Panel area is being assessed to ensure that the best decision is made prior to commencing construction in these areas.

Should the ore path locations be moved to outside Panel 0, then the Panel boundary transition strategy requires an update. Therefore, this work will be completed in the final design modification phase of the Definitive Estimate.

I'll be available for questions, but in the meantime, Ulf, would you like to continue?

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, JoAnne. If we turn to Slide 15, our priorities for the remainder of 2019 remain clear, safety, performance, progressing the underground development, and putting in place a financing plan for execution in 2020.

Oyu Tolgoi achieved an industry-leading all injury frequency rate for the 6 months, ended June 30th. We continue to focus on improving our safety standards. Productions for the 1st half of the year has been strong, and we remain on target to achieve our 2019 production guidance while retaining strong cost discipline.

Shaft 2 is transitioning into the rope-up phase and remains on schedule for commissioning in October, and we continue to progress on Shafts 3 and 4, and underground infrastructure. In addition to the underground progression, the technical specification for the Tavan Tolgoi powerplant has been developed, and we've commenced a competitive tender process for the EPC contract.

To wrap up, Oyu Tolgoi remains one of the few low-cost, long life, Tier 1 copper and gold deposits, capable of producing long-dated free cash flow throughout the cycle. Infrastructure is well-advanced, and the key components of our value proposition for shareholders remain intact. The updates and the proposed mine design options have reconfirmed that Oyu Tolgoi is a world-class mine that will generate billions of dollars in free cash flow per year.

In conjunction with our world-class operator, Rio Tinto, Turquoise Hill is committed to working with the government and the people of Mongolia to bring the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine into production for the benefit of its stakeholders.

...

And with that, I'd like now to turn the call over for questions. Operator, I'll return the call back to you, please.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, we will now begin the question and answer session. Should you have a question, please press the * followed by the 1 on your touchtone phone. You will hear a 3-tone prompt acknowledging your request, and your questions will be pulled in the order they are received. Should you wish to decline from the polling process, please press the * followed by the 2. And if you are using a speakerphone, please lift the handset before pressing any keys.

Your first question comes from Orest Wowkodaw from Scotia Bank. Please go ahead.

Orest Wowkodaw -- Scotia Capital -- Analyst

Hi, good morning. And thanks for the update. A couple questions on the financing. You disclosed that you've got adequate liquidity until the end of 2020. When could we anticipate that you will engage with lenders and others to secure additional financing? And by that, I mean does the project need to complete the definitive study in the back half of '20 before that financing can actually be finalized? Or do you think we could see a scenario where you could raise additional capital much earlier than that?

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Orest. Look, it's a good question. I think as you say, we said it a few times on the call. I don't want to repeat it too many times. But yes, we do have a lot of liquidity. And so, until the end of next year, we do not need to raise any money to fund operation or underground, so we do have a little bit of time. That doesn't mean we're complacent of course.

The question you're asking, Orest, is really I think, do we need the completion of the Definitive Estimate in order to be able to go to market to raise financing?

Orest Wowkodaw -- Scotia Capital -- Analyst

Yes.

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

And that comes up because up until the delay in Definitive Estimate, it wasn't relevant if you like, right. Because previously we said the Definitive Estimate would be completed by the end of the year, which then would have given us sufficient time to wait for that and go to market post completion of Definitive Estimate to raise financing early next year. Now that has changed.

So what we're doing at the moment is to work through and understand whether we really do need the completion of the Definitive Estimate before we can go to market, or indeed, if we can go to market earlier. JoAnne in her comments has hinted a little bit on the fact that of course between now and the completion of the Definitive Estimate work is being done, the visibility of which mine modifications and which design decisions need to be taken is whittling down if you like, the breath of the range. And so, therefore, we would expect as we progress that we get more and more visibility, obviously.

And what's important for us, Orest, is to just come to a place where hopefully we can maybe in a position where we can go to the markets before the Definitive Estimate is completed. I think it's important for people to understand that the Definitive Estimate is important. It is the end date of the process if you like. But it does not mean that nothing can be done until we get to that place, right. That is really the point in time when the cost and schedule estimate is definitive, but it doesn't mean that between now and then we won't have significantly more visibility for us to be able to commence the financing process.

What month exactly that is, we can't tell you on this call. But we would certainly expect it to be well before the Definitive Estimate is complete.

Orest Wowkodaw -- Scotia Capital -- Analyst

Okay. No, I appreciate that color. And to give us a better sense of your liquidity beyond 2020, can you tell us specifically how much debt matures -- on the existing debt, how much matures in 2021, 2022, and 2023 on the existing track.

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

If you don't mind, Orest, I might ask Luke to come in on that monetization schedule.

Luke Colton -- Chief Financial Officer

Yep. So I don't have the exact numbers in front of me, but there are relatively dominium amounts in '20 and '21. And when you get into '22 and '23, it starts to ramp up. And it does depend a little bit on some of the work that's being done at the moment on, you know, the different mine plans that are being looked at, etc. Because you've got your sort of fixed principal repayments and then you have the potential for additional principal repayments if there are so incremental cashflows above and beyond.

So that's a little bit of work that's still in process. But I'm comfortable saying that '20 and '21 are small numbers in the scheme of things. And then it starts to ramp up from '22. It will grow a bit into 2023 as well.

Orest Wowkodaw -- Scotia Capital

Okay, perfect. Thank you so much.

Luke Colton -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Oscar Cabrera of CIBC. Please go ahead.

Oscar Cabrera -- CIBC World Markets -- Analyst

Thank you, operator, and good morning or afternoon, everyone. Ulf, if I may, just looking at the mine design refinement decision like that, you have the range of $1.2 billion to $1.9 billion in the overrun. Does that include the need for relocating current infrastructure?

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Thanks for the question, Oscar. So maybe what I'll do is ask JoAnne, maybe, to respond to your question, if that's OK JoAnne.

JoAnne Dudley -- Chief Operating Officer

Yes. Thanks, Ulf, and thanks, Oscar. Yes. So the current mine design refinement's that are under consideration does not require any relocation of infrastructure. So everything that has been mined to date remains completely usable as per the original design intention. This is about some refinements to the infrastructure that sits very close to or within the footprint itself. And it is about the location of those pieces of infrastructure to quite a fine degree of detail. And so, everything that's been mined to date remains usable.

Oscar Cabrera -- CIBC World Markets -- Analyst

And the reason I'm asking you this is I was intrigued by your comment on the reserve. I think if I remember correctly, in the last call we talked about not sterilizing any of the reserves. And in today's call, you're talking about non-materially impacting the reserves. So is it me just misinterpreting your comments or can you put more context around that, please?

JoAnne Dudley -- Chief Operating Officer

Yes, no problem. Yes, and you know, that's a typical way that we would talk about reserves in a mining sense because we are always thinking about the potential for small changes to reserves that are non-material in any mining situation.

And so, there's no sterilization of reserves. And really, I would say that that is the same answer, you know, that we're not expecting any material changes. That any changes will be quite minimal. And that result is from the detailed design that we go through as we work through the mine planning work for the Definitive Estimate. Because we haven't reached those final decisions, and the detailed work hasn't been done. But from the strategic work we've done, we don't see a red flag there.

Oscar Cabrera -- CIBC World Markets -- Analyst

Okay. No, that's helpful. Thank you. And also, would you be able to comment on the range. Like if I look at the four points you have here, mid access drives, footprint, development, productivity, etc., if you could comment on what the bottom end of the range and the top end of the range, what are the things that are driving that, you know, that $700 million difference?

JoAnne Dudley -- Chief Operating Officer

Right, OK. So, good question. So the capital increase largely falls into four areas. The impact to lateral development and mass excavation costs due to additional ground support requirements, as well as associated productivity issues that come along with those, that additional support. Additional scope for some of the underground facilities, and also, the Shaft 2 cost impacts, that's really driving that range.

Oscar Cabrera -- CIBC World Markets -- Analyst

And I think you got, but just lastly. I think you got the question in the last call, the cost of the Shaft 2 delay. Would you be able to provide us with a figure? How much is that, you know?

JoAnne Dudley -- Chief Operating Officer

Right. So this is an area that we're still working to fully understand. And we have been provided with some initial information, but we're in the process of reviewing that. And I'd be premature right at this moment to get into that detail on this call.

Oscar Cabrera -- CIBC World Markets -- Analyst

Yeah. I appreciate all the context. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Hayden Bairstow of Macquarie. Please go ahead.

Hayden Bairstow -- Macquarie Capital Markets -- Analyst

Thanks. Just a couple from me. Firstly, just on the development, back to that reserve question. Can you give us any color on what the reserve on Panel 0 actually is? And is that -- I assume you start in the highest-grade part of the ore body if you can. And if you don't have those mid access drives, does that mean you've got to push further out and make the footprint bigger? Or does it slow the ramp-up? I just wanna get a better indication of what all that means.

And this is a financial one, I guess. On the capitalization of all the interest costs, does that keep happening on an ongoing basis now? At what point does the cash pay interest payments actually start flowing to the P&L, thanks.

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Hayden. So we just divide that up into, and Luke, do you wanna do the last one, the 2nd question on financing. And then, JoAnne, maybe you can go back to the 1st question from Hayden.

Jo-Anne Dudley -- Chief Operating Officer

No problem.

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

You wanna start, Luke, and do the 2nd question 1st?

Luke Colton -- Chief Financial Officer

Yep. No, I'm happy to do that. Now, thanks for the question. So, normally with capitalized interest under the accounting standards -- and it does get a little bit technical. But at a high-level, you would continue to capitalize your interest effectively up until the point that you're commixing is substantially complete. So, it's kind of once we get to the critical hydraulic radius or we achieve first sustainable production, that's kind of the cut-off point when we would stop capitalizing our interest costs, and we would start to flow those interest costs through the P&L. Does that answer your question?

Hayden Bairstow -- Macquarie Capital Markets -- Analyst

Yeah. Thanks for that.

Jo-Anne Dudley -- Chief Operating Officer

Okay, so in terms of the reserve, the way we describe the reserve is we don't split up between the panels. So Panel 0 forms a component of the 499 million tons of reserve for Hugo North. And the figure that is on the slide shows you some idea of the scale of the footprint. We don't anticipate any change to the reserve of Panel 0 as a result of this work. The mid access drives actually have nothing to do with the reserve. What they relate to is minimizing the time to the first production by subsetting the panel and allowing us to minimize the development to the first bell. However, they do introduce some potential geotechnical risks on ramp-up.

And so, really what we're seeking to do is before we commit to doing that, putting in those drives, is to understand what risks we're exposing ourselves to during ramp-up, and making sure the right decision is made to protect the long-term productivity and future or the panel.

Hayden Bairstow -- Macquarie Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. So is this just a Panel 0 issue, though, in that area? Or do you think that the more work you do, that you might have to make the panels effectively a bit smaller, so you don't have to put these mid access drives in at all going forward?

Jo-Anne Dudley -- Chief Operating Officer

That is a possible solution. You know, the mine design work will continue on until later in the year. And these things aren't all downside. There's some upside that comes with any kind of change, potentially, that we would look at in terms of the sizes of the panels. So it isn't necessarily a question of ore being downside. And particularly once we get into production, it's about sustaining production and getting ahead on development. And that's a normal activity in a mine such as this.

Hayden Bairstow -- Macquarie Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay, great. And this is a question for you all. Just obviously the share price reactions been pretty savage. I mean, what can you do beyond what you're doing now to sort of start unlocking or solving a lot of this uncertainty around the government and the funding issues. I mean, you've obviously got until the end of next year to fully solve the development plan. I mean, what are you thinking about in terms of trying to ease the market concerns about right issue risks and all those sorts of things?

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, thanks for the question, Hayden. Look, I think we all watch the share price. We all are working for our shareholders to make sure that we deliver value on the share price, ultimately, will be the ultimate yardstick for that.

The fact of the matter is as the management team, as a company, we can't manage the share price really. What we need to do, what we believe we must do is really to deliver and execute on what we've described are the priorities for the business. And the priorities for the business haven't changed. Which is to deliver operational performance, to progress the underground, to make sure that we have an attractive and adequate financing package in place, so that we can fund our strategic agenda, and that we deliver the powerplant.

What can we do in the meantime? I think it is important to us, and we will try as much as we can, to really provide visibility to the market, both, I think, in relation to the underground development and somewhat the Geotech related challenges that Jo-Anne has just covered as well as underfinancing.

I think the objective and the answer has not changed, and we know what we need to do, what we need to deliver. What we view as important for us to help the markets, our shareholders is to provide visibility to describe what some of the challenges are and how we work through them. And when we can deliver on certain milestones, in order to address maybe the fear in some areas that it is a, you know, a large sort of unquantifiable or not a well-understood challenge. So that's what Jo-Anne has, I think, tried to do on the call today, is to really break down that this is not an ill-defined or not well-understood challenge, it's the opposite, actually. It is something that we recognize the challenge, we understand the problem, we've got the right people working on it, and we're sort of breaking it down into if you like, digestible chunks. Discreet pieces of work that we're working through in a systematic fashion.

And as Jo-Anne said, there's not just a downside, there's some upside there as well. But that's what we must do. And if we do that, and provide as much visibility as we can to the market, ultimately, we would be confident that that would be reflected in the evaluation as well.

Hayden Bairstow -- Macquarie Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay, terrific. Thanks for your help on all those. Yeah, thanks.

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Hayden.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, as a reminder, should you have a question, please press the * followed by the 1. There are no further questions at this time. Please proceed.

Ulf Quellmann -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you very much, operator. So look, let me just wrap up the call. Thank you, everyone, for joining this morning. Thank you for the questions. Really appreciate them. Also, thanks to Luke and Jo-Anne to provide some color to all of you on the call.

The way I would summarize it is that we had operationally a strong 2nd Quarter. I think you've seen the results, they've been very, very solid. Very strong, both from an operational as well as from a safety perspective. We are pushing ahead with the development of the underground. Yes, we've encountered some challenges. They're not uncommon. We understand what they are. We've got the right people working on it. We're doing the right thing to make sure we maximize long-term productivity for long-term value creation.

And we will provide you, the market, with more visibility as we go along. You will not have to wait until the 2nd half of next year before you get more visibility on that piece.

Ont eh financing side, we have a strong balance sheet. We have $3 billion of liquidity. We have a strong asset. We have a supportive lending group. And we are working on financing plans to allow us to raise the funding that we need next year, together with our partners. We have a strong asset. There will be options. We'll pursue these options, and ultimately, we are confident that we can put an attractive financing package in place.

And last but not least, we shouldn't forget that we are operating in Mongolia. Our partnership with Erdenes OT, which is a 34% shareholder with the government at large, remains strong, remains productive. Ultimately, our interests are aligned, and we are all working together, ultimately for the interest of our stakeholders. And the best way for us to do that is to maximize value in Oyu Tolgoi. Ultimately, that is in the best interest for all of us.

Oyu Tolgoi is and remains a low-cost, long-life, Tier 1 asset, and it'll continue to generate long-term value for its shareholders.

...

With that, I think we'll like to wrap up the call. Thanks again for joining this morning. Operator, we'll close up the call with that. Thank you very much.

Operator

 

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes your conference call for today. We thank you for participating and ask that you, please disconnect your lines.

Duration: 43 minutes

 

Call Participants:

Roy McDowell -- Head of Investor Relations and Communications

Ulf Quellmann -- Director and Chief Executive Officer

Luke Colton -- Chief Financial Officer

Jo-Anne Dudley -- Chief Operating Officer

Orest Wowkodaw -- Scotia Capital -- Analyst

Oscar Cabrera -- CIBC World Markets -- Analyst

Hayden Bairstow -- Macquarie Capital Markets -- Analyst

 

 

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