Taseko Mines to move ahead with Arizona copper project

The first copper cathode harvest at Taseko Mines' Florence copper project in Arizona. Credit: Taseko Mines.

Taseko Mines (TSX: TKO; NYSE-AM: TGB; LSE: TKO) said the Florence town council in Arizona has decided not to appeal the Aquifer protection permit (APP) for the company’s Florence copper project, which it received last month.

The permit, granted by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), allows Taseko to extract copper in-situ, a process done using a water-based solution.

The project, located between Phoenix and Tucson, will include 24 injection-recovery and monitoring wells. Copper will be recovered from the solution in an SX/EW (solvent extraction-electrowinning) plant, which is expected to reduce production costs and the environmental footprint of the project.

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

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

The Vancouver-based miner believes that two years of operating the test facility within the strict environmental guidelines set out in its current permits, combined with the future economic benefits from the commercial production facility, contributed to the council’s decision.

Taseko envisions a two-phase development for its wholly owned project. The first production test facility, with 24 wells and a solvent extraction and electrowinning plant, has been operating since December 2018, to generate copper cathode.

A commercial-scale facility would follow, with the permitting process aimed at transitioning the project into the second phase – this would include an expanded wellfield and plant.

Once at full tilt, Florence is expected to produce an average of 85 million pounds of copper annually for 20 years, beginning in late 2022.

This article first appeared in MINING.com, part of Glacier Resource Innovation Group.


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