Mr. Russell Hallbauer reports
TASEKO'S FLORENCE COPPER PROJECT PRODUCES FIRST COPPER
Taseko Mines Ltd.'s Florence copper production test facility is fully operational, from the well field to the SX/EW plant and is producing copper.
Over the past three months, approximately 1.5 million tons of copper ore has been contacted underground with leach solution. Copper concentrations in the solution has recently risen to levels that have allowed the SX/EW plant to begin operation and produce copper.
Russell Hallbauer, president and chief executive officer of Taseko, commented: "As expected, and reported in our 2017 technical report, the initial leaching period has taken approximately three months and all results are in line with expectations. The scale up from our laboratory and feasibility testing to the commercial scale has been relatively seamless. With the entire test well field and SX/EW plant now operating as a continuous unit, we will use the coming months to refine operational parameters, which will help with the ramp-up of the commercial plant. The proportion of ore contacted underground with leach solution (known as 'sweep efficiency') has been very encouraging to date. Our modelling predicted a 55-per-cent sweep efficiency after the first year of leaching and we have already achieved that level after the first three months."
Mr. Hallbauer continued: "We have always maintained a high level of confidence in the comprehensive technical work we have undertaken on the in situ process. The data we continue to collect from the many observation, monitoring and point-of-compliance wells is demonstrating the integrity of our injection and recovery process. Not only is the data proving that we are able to maintain hydraulic control of the leach solution underground, but it is providing valuable data to validate our leach model, as well as optimize well designs and performance and hydraulic control parameters."
"We have steadily advanced the project towards commercial production, derisking it considerably from when we acquired Florence copper in 2014, and we expect to have a financing package in place and to be starting construction of the commercial facility in the next 12 months. Florence copper will produce an average of 85 million pounds of copper annually for 20 years at an average operating cost of $1.10 (U.S.) per pound. With a net present value of roughly $1-billion (Canadian), there is a huge disconnect with Taseko's market capitalization. This valuation gap should close considerably in the coming months as we move closer to the construction of the lowest capital intensity project in the world, that will have operating costs in the lowest quartile of the industry," concluded Mr. Hallbauer.
The content of this release was reviewed and approved by Dan Johnson, PE, vice-president/general manager for Florence Copper Inc., and a qualified person under National Instrument 43-101.
The Florence copper NI 43-101 technical report is available on SEDAR or the company's website.
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