Taseko gets boost at Arizona copper project

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Taseko Mines Ltd. [TKO-TSX, LSE; TGB-NYSE American] received a boost on Wednesday January 6 when the Florence town council in Arizona elected not to appeal the granting of the Acqifer protection permit for the company’s 100%-owned Florence Copper Project.

Taseko announced in December, 2020, that it has received the permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). It allows Taseko to extract copper in-situ, a process that is accomplished using a water-based solution.

“We are very pleased by this decision and believe this change in approach by Council signals a new beginning,” said Taseko President Stuart McDonald. “Our expectation is that open and productive dialogue will result and that our future together is bright.”

The company has previously said that by issuing this permit, the ADEQ has endorsed the environmental integrity of the project and is confident that the commercial operation will meet its state environmental laws and regulations.

Florence Copper is an in-situ copper recovery project located midway between Pheonix and Tucson, near the community of Florence, Arizona. Development is being performed in two phases, including a phase one production test facility and a second phase commercial facility.

The Phase one facility, including 24 injection, recovery and monitoring wells and an SX/EW plant, commenced operations in December 2018. Taseko is now advancing the permit amendment process to transition the project towards commercial production.

The next step in the permitting process is the receipt of the Underground Injection Control Permit, which the company expects to receive in the next few months. Construction is anticipated to commence in 2021.

When in production, Florence Copper is expected to produce 85 million pounds of copper annually at a cash cost of US$1.13/lb over a 20-year lifespan. Based on the company’s latest technical report and supported by nearly two years of successful operation of the test facility, the project has an after-tax NPV (8%) of US$680 million at a copper price of US$3.00/lb.

Taseko shares advanced on the news, rising 3.4% or $0.06 to $1.81 on volume of 375,037. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $1.78 and 28 cents.

“We have de-risked the project significantly since its acquisition in 2014 and believe we are on the cusp of being one of the best low-cost, fully permitted and finance copper projects in the world,”  McDonald said recently.

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