Taseko’s Florence Copper granted aquifer protection permit

Copper cathode production at Florence Copper’s test facility, July 2020. Credit: Taseko Mines.

Vancouver’s Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSX: TKO; NYSE American: TGB; LSE: TKO) has received the Aquifer protection permit (APP) for its Florence Copper project. The permit was granted by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

Taseko CEO Russell Hallbauer commented in a release, “This is a key milestone in the advancement of the company’s next operating asset. By issuing this permit, the ADEQ has endorsed the environmental integrity of our project and is confident that the commercial operation will meet all state environmental laws and regulations.”

The project, located between Phoenix and Tucson, will include 24 injection-recovery and monitoring wells. Copper will be recovered from solution in an SX/EW (solvent extraction-electrowinning) plant.

The next step in the permitting process will be receipt of the Underground Injection Control Permit, which Taseko expects to be issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in early 2021. Construction of a commercial operation could then begin later next year.

The establishment of an in situ recovery project will significantly reduce copper production costs and the environmental footprint of the project.

“This state-of-the-art copper production facility will have an environmental footprint smaller than any conventional open pit or underground mining operation of its size, with water consumption 14 times lower, carbon emissions six times lower and energy consumption three times lower, added Hallbauer.

Florence has a planned average annual production rate of 84 million lbs. of  copper from probable reserves of 345 million tons grading 0.36% copper. The facility has an estimated US$920 million pre-tax net present value at a 7.5% discount rate. The after-tax NPV was recently downgraded to US$760 million at a 7.5% discount rate due to recent changes to the U.S. tax legislation.

At the time of writing, Taseko shares were trading at C$1.37 each on the TSX.


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