Taseko stock gets boost on first copper production in Arizona

Construction of the Florence Copper Production Test Facility. Image courtesy of Taseko Mines

Shares of Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSX:TKO) jumped over 8% and hit a five-week high on Monday afternoon, bringing the company’s market capitalization to nearly C$220 million. The company has just announced that its Florence copper production test facility in Arizona is now fully operational, from the wellfield to the SX/EW (solvent extraction and electrowinning) plant. Located between Phoenix and Tucson, Florence is an in situ project with 24 injection, recovery and monitoring wells.

According to the company, about 1.5 million tonnes of underground copper ore have been contacted with leach solution over the past three months. Copper concentrations in the solution has recently risen to levels which have allowed the SX/EW plant to begin operation and produce copper.

Russell Hallbauer, President and CEO 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. With the entire test wellfield 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.”

“Florence will produce an average of 85 million pounds [approximately 38,500 metric tonnes] of copper annually for 20 years at an average operating cost of $1.10 per pound. With a net present value of roughly C$1 billion, there is a huge disconnect with Taseko’s market capitalization,” added Hallbauer.

The company also expects to have a financing package in place so that construction can start on the commercial plant in the next 12 months.

Taseko Mines is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. It also operates and owns 75% of the Gibraltar mine in BC, the second-largest open-pit copper mine in Canada with an estimated production of 140 million pounds [approximately 63,500 metric tonnes] of copper per year.

(A version of this article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

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