US Exim has lent US$500mn to the huge Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mining project in Mongolia.

The move comes as speculation mounts in the industry as to when the overall transaction will be closed, with sponsor Rio Tinto believed to have secured around US2.5bn of the US$5.1bn total project requirement.

A number of export credit agencies (ECAs) and development banks have now pledged financing to the tune of US$1.95bn. The EBRD pledged €400mn from its own account in September of last year. The Australian ECA, Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), Canada’s Export Development Canada (EDC) as well as the German and Dutch development banks KfW-Ipex and FMO have also signed up.

It’s understood that commercial banks agreed pricing and terms in April. The mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) are BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered, who are both set to lend US$250mn each. Contributing US$200mn each will be Crédit Agricole, HSBC, ING, ANZ, Natixis, Société Générale and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). Reuters reports that a further three commercial lenders will add US$100mn each to the pool.

The finance is guaranteed in two tranches: the first is covered by the EBRD and the IFC and is priced at Libor plus 340bps. The second tranche is covered by Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (Miga), priced at Libor plus 265bps.

Spokespeople from the EBRD, IFC and US Exim all declined the opportunity to confirm the structure of the syndicate.