Aley - Project Summary

The Aley deposit was discovered in 1980 by Cominco. From 1983-1986, approximately 10,000 feet of diamond drilling was completed in 20 holes, outlining near surface mineralization in the range of 20-30 million tonnes.

In 2007, Taseko acquired the project. Following the acquisition, Taseko initiated an exploration program to confirm Cominco's historical work.

In 2010, an additional exploration program was completed. The program comprised geological mapping and diamond drilling of 23 drill holes These holes intersected highly continuous, near surface niobium mineralization across an area measuring over 900 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south with mineralized intercepts ranging up to over 200 metres in length. The extensive body of niobium mineralization indicated by the 2010 drilling was wide open to expansion in at least three directions and to depth.

Taseko undertook a comprehensive work program on the project in 2011, which included a 65 hole exploration drilling program, sample collection for metallurgical testwork, and preliminary geo-technical data collection for site design.

The information gathered during the 2011 work program season, along with historical drill data, was used to convert the inferred resources into a measured and indicated resource in March, 2012.

A pre-feasibility study was completed in 2014 resulting in conversion of a portion of the resource to a proven and probable reserve announced in September, 2014.

Project Economics

Taseko announced proven and probable reserves of 84 million tonnes grading 0.50% Nb2O5 for the Aley Niobium Project. Highlights include:

  • Pre-tax net present value of approximately C$860 million at an 8% discount rate
  • Pre-tax internal rate of return of 17% with a 5.5 year payback
  • After-tax net present value of approximately C$480 million at an 8% discount
  • After-tax internal rate of return of 14% with a 5.8 year payback
  • Anticipated operating margin of US$21/kg of niobium (Nb)
  • Average annual production of 9 million kilograms Nb in the form of FeNb
  • 24 year mine life at a milling rate of 10,000 tonnes per day
  • Life of mine strip ratio of 0.5:1
  • Total pre-production capital cost of C$870 million, including; $520 million for mine, concentrator and site infrastructure; $180 million for the converter, $100 million for offsite infrastructure including the transmission line, and $70 million for pre-stripping

Project Description

Pre-Production and Mine Plan

A pre-production period of two years would include construction of the electricity transmission line, upgrading and extension of current road access and mine site clearing, site infrastructure, processing facilities, and tailings starter dam construction.

The mine plan utilizes a conventional truck shovel open pit mining operation. Following the pre-production period, total material moved averages 15,000 tonnes/day.

Processing and Infrastructure

The Aley processing plant has been designed with a nominal capacity of 10,000 tonnes per day. The plant consists of single stage crushing followed by three stage grinding and a multi-stage flotation process to produce a Nb2O5 concentrate. The flotation concentrate is then processed in an on-site converter to produce FeNb as a saleable product.

Expected process recovery is 63% with annual production averaging 9 million kilograms of niobium over the mine life.

Next Steps

The project description was submitted and accepted in 2014. In November 2014, the Federal Minister of the Environment approved Substitution under CEAA 2012 to the British Columbia government. We are currently in the pre-application phase of the environmental assessment process.