Mr. Russell Hallbauer
TASEKO SUBMITS PERMIT AMENDMENT APPLICATION AND ACHIEVES COMMERCIAL GRADE LEACH SOLUTION AT FLORENCE COPPER
Taseko Mines Ltd. has submitted the aquifer protection permit (APP) amendment application to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The APP is one of two key permit amendments that are required for commercial production at the company's Florence copper project. The permit amendment application for the underground injection control permit will be made to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the coming weeks.
Russell Hallbauer, chief executive officer of Taseko, commented: "This past week, after roughly six months of operating the test facility, the leach solution reached commercial-grade levels, well in advance of our anticipated time frame. Based on previous bench-scale testing, we expected it would take upwards of a year to reach target solution grade, so we are obviously extremely pleased to have achieved this milestone after such a short period of time. The grade of the leach solution coming from our main recovery well is approximately 1,600 parts per million of copper in solution and would be comparable to a typical open-pit, low-cost heap-leach operation. The main difference between Florence copper and other leach operations is that we have no mining costs associated with our in situ leach process, making Florence copper, when in commercial operation, one of the lowest-cost operations globally.
"The main focus of the test facility, beyond ensuring we achieve all the technical targets of our feasibility study, will be building our on-the-ground operational experience to streamline the transition to commercial production. Based on the knowledge we have gained in the last six months, the benefits of the two-phase approach (production test facility followed by the commercial facility) will significantly improve the ramp-up of the final commercial-scale operation," added Mr. Hallbauer.
Stuart McDonald, president of Taseko, stated: "Financing for the commercial production facility is progressing with multiple options continuing to be pursued. We have initiated discussions with potential lenders and financing partners, and we remain on track to have a plan formalized in the coming months. We now have the three key initiatives -- technical, permitting and financing -- all aligned for our project to be construction ready in the first half of 2020. With cash costs of $1.10 (U.S.) per pound and a $1-billion net present value, Florence copper will transform Taseko into a multiasset, low-cost copper producer in stable jurisdictions. We will continue to derisk and steadily move the project towards production in 2021, increasing Taseko's attributable annual copper production to approximately 190 million pounds per year."
The National Instrument 43-101 technical report for the Florence copper project is available on SEDAR or the company's website.
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