Taseko Mines (TSX: TKO) has been informed by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) that the draft aquifer protection permit (APP) for the Florence Copper commercial production facility will be issued this week.
The APP is one of two key permits required to advance the in-situ copper recovery project to commercial production. The project is located midway between Phoenix and Tucson.
At an installed capacity of $4,700 per tonne, Florence Copper is considered one of the lowest capital intensity copper projects in the world.
“The issuance of this important permit is a confirmation by the state regulator that the Florence Copper in-situ mining process is environmentally safe,” Taseko Mines CEO and director Russell Hallbauer stated in a press release.
“We have proven this over the past 18 months while operating the test facility within all the stringent conditions set out in the current permit,” Hallbauer continued. “We fully expect that following the 30-day public comment period, the ADEQ will be positioned to quickly issue the final permit.”
Development of the project is being performed in two phases – the first phase is a production test facility, followed by the second phase commercial facility.
Construction of the Phase 1 facility, which includes 24 injection, recovery and monitoring wells and an SX/EW plant, was completed in the third quarter of 2018. Wellfield operations commenced later that year, with the injection and recovery systems fully ramped up shortly after.
In April 2019, after the initial leaching period, the first high-quality copper cathode was produced, with leach solution from the mine reaching commercial grade (1,600 ppm of copper in solution).
“From an operational perspective, we have completed a full evaluation of the data collected from the test wellfield over the last 18 months of operations. The test facility has successfully demonstrated our ability to produce high-quality copper cathode, within the stringent environmental guidelines of our permits, and has confirmed the project economics,” Hallbauer commented.
Shares of Taseko Mines jumped 4.6% by 1:15 p.m. EDT Tuesday. The Vancouver-based copper producer has a market capitalization of C$221.6 million.