Taseko hits copper targets at Gibraltar

The Gibraltar mine near Williams Lake, British Columbia. Source: Taseko Mines Ltd.

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Taseko Mines Ltd. [TKO-TSX; TGB-NYSE American] on Thursday January 9 said it achieved its 2019 full-year copper production target at its Gibraltar copper mine in British Columbia in spite of a strike by Canadian National Railway Co. [CNR-TSX] in November that impacted shipments for 11 days.

Annual production in 2019 reached 126 million pounds of copper, which is within the full-year guidance range of 130 million pounds. The mine also produced 2.7 million pounds of molybdenum last year. That includes 33.4 million pounds of copper and 700,000 pounds of molybdenum in the fourth quarter.

Throughput in the fourth quarter of 2019 was at design capacity and grade was approximately life-of-mine average. Taseko also noted that it issued a new form of reclamation security for Gibraltar, which resulted in $36 million of cash being released to Taseko in the fourth quarter.

“Looking forward, with a stronger spot copper price than what was averaged in 2019, combined with lower treatment and refining costs, we expect an improved operating margin to begin in the new year,” said Taseko CEO Russell Hallbauer.

Copper was trading at US $2.79/lb on the spot market, Thursday, up from US $2.52/lb in early September, but down from US $2.95/lb in March 2019.

“We are pleased to have met the annual production guidance that we provided 12 months ago,” Hallbauer said.

On Thursday, Taseko shares eased 1.4% or $0.01 to 69 cents. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of 50 cents and $1.05.

Taseko is a Vancouver-based company with a portfolio that includes the Gibraltar Mine, the Florence Copper Project in Arizona, and the New Prosperity copper-gold project, which is located near Williams Lake, B.C.

Gibraltar is a joint venture owned 75% by Taseko and 25% by Cariboo Copper Corp., a company owned jointly by Japanese companies Sojitz Corp. Furukawa Co. Ltd. and DOWA Metals and Mining Co.  All production and sales figures for the mine are reported on a 100% basis.

Gibraltar ranks as the second largest open pit copper mine in Canada and the largest employer in B.C.’s Cariboo region.

News that Taseko achieved its production targets at Gibraltar comes after the company recently released an update related to its New Prosperity mine.

The company said the Tsilhqot’in Nation as represented by the Tsilhqot’in national government and Taseko Mines have entered into a dialogue, facilitated by the Province of British Columbia, to try and obtain a long-term solution to the conflict regarding the proposed New Prosperity Mine, acknowledging Taseko’s commercial interests and the opposition of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to the project.

While Taseko said the details of the process are confidential, in order to facilitate a dialogue, the parties have agreed to a standstill on certain outstanding litigation and regulatory matters, which relate to Taseko’s tenures and the area in the vicinity of the Teztan Biny (Fish Lake).

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