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The Florence Copper Project is unique opportunity; It is an opportunity for mineral extraction with minimal environmental impact.
Using a process called in-situ copper recovery, the copper is extracted using a water-based solution. This method requires no open pit, no tunneling, no blasting, no waste dumps, and no large equipment that is typically associated with mining activity.The in-situ process is energy efficient, uses significantly less water, and produces far less carbon dioxide emissions and waste per pound of copper produced that convention mining operations.
Since acquiring Florence Copper in November 2014, Taseko has advanced the Project through the permitting, construction, and operating phase of the Phase 1 Production Test Facility (PTF).
The PTF, a $25 million test facility, was designed to prove the integrity of the in-situ copper recovery process and provide Taseko with important technical information.
The 24 well facility and the SX/EW plant commenced operations in December 2018. Over the course of 18 months, Taseko evaluated the operational data, confirmed project economics, and demonstrated the ability to produce high-quality copper cathode with stringent environmental guidelines.
Successfully operating the Phase 1 wellfield and SX/EW plant has been major milestone in advancing and realizing the full value of the Project.
With an initial capital expenditure of US $227 million, the Florence Copper commercial facility will produce an average of 85 million pounds (40,000 tonnes) of copper annually at a cost of US$1.13/lb LOM* over its 20 year life.
In August 2020, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) issued Florence Copper a draft Aquifer Protection Permit, one of two key permits required to advance to commercial production.In addition, Taseko continues to advance the permitting process for the other key permit, the Environmental Projection Agency’s Underground Injection Control Permit (UIC).
The Company is targeting to have all necessary final permits in hand in early 2021.
Concurrent with permitting activities, the Company is advancing to raise new capital to fund the construction of Florence Copper. Discussions with potential joint venture partners and lenders are ongoing and the Company expects to have a committed financing package in place by early 2021, inline with the timing of final permits.
* Based on a Competent Persons Report dated November 6, 2019 prepared by Roscoe Postle Associates Inc. The CPR was filed on SEDAR as part of the LSE Prospectus on November 14, 2019.
In September 2017, with all final permits in place, Taseko announced that it’s Board of Directors approved the construction of the Florence Copper Phase 1 in-situ copper recovery facility.
Construction of Phase 1 facility, which includes 24 injection, recovery and monitoring wells and an SX/EW plant, was completed in the third quarter 2018, on-time and on budget.
In December 2018, wellfield operations commenced and injection and recovery systems were fully ramped-up within a short timeframe (reference news release). Following an initial leaching period, in December 2018, leach solutions were flowing at expected levels and copper was detected in solutions recovered from process sample wells.
In April 2019, the first harvest of 3,700 pounds of copper cathode (32 sheets x 117 pounds), was made and the copper cathode was assayed at higher than 99.9% copper (reference news release).
Concurrent with Phase 1 test facility operations, the Company advanced the permit amendment process to transition to commercial production. In August 2020, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued the draft Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) for the commercial production facility. The APP is one of two key permits required to advance the project to commercial production.
For the latest photos and video of the project , visit Florence Copper – Photos & Videos
On January 16, 2017, Taseko announced the results from a 2-year metallurgical test program as well as an optimization of the project well field development sequence. This updated data was used to re-cost the project which resulted in a significant improvement in project economics, as follows:
The complete technical report can be found on www.sedar.com or can be downloaded here (NI 43-101 Technical Report - Florence Copper Project, January 16, 2017)
1 Average grade 0.358% TCu at a cut-off grade of 0.05% TCu March 2013 Florence Copper Prefeasibility Study Technical Report, Independent Qualified Persons are Richard Zimmerman, RM-SME, M3 Engineering & Technology Corp.; Michael Young, RM-SME, Haley & Aldrich; Corolla Hoag, CPG, RM-SME, SRK Consulting, Dr. Terence McNulty, PE, TP McNulty and Associates; Dennis Tucker, PE, ARCADIS, and Richard Frechette, PE, Knight Piesold.
Net Present Value (NPV) Analysis
|Copper Price US$/lb||Pre-tax NPV(7.5%)/IRR||After Tax NPV(7.5%)/IRR|
|$3.00||US $920 Million / 44%||US $680 Million / 37%|
As a requirement of the LSE listing process, the Company engaged Roscoe Postle Associates Inc. (“RPA”) to prepare an independent Competent Persons Report (“CPR”) for the Gibraltar Mine and the Florence Copper Project. The Gibraltar Mine CPR confirmed the Company’s mineral reserve estimate in its 43-101 Technical Report dated November 6, 2019, and contains no other significant findings.
The Competent Persons Report for the Florence Copper Project is filed on SEDAR and can be downloaded through the link below.
A potential copper porphyry system was first identified at Florence in the early 1960s. By the late 1970s, significant drilling and metallurgical testwork had been completed by Conoco.
Conoco's conceptual studies included both the oxide and sulfide portions of the deposit, and encompassed an oxide open pit mine, with vat leaching and solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) treatment of oxide mineralization, followed by extraction of the sulfide material and treatment in a conventional concentrator, with smelting and refining. However, the low price of copper and overall large capital investment precluded development.
Magma Copper Company acquired the property in 1992 and completed a prefeasibility study in 1995. The study focused on identifying the most appropriate mining method for developing the oxide portion of the deposit, which included (1) open pit mining followed by heap leaching, and (2) in-situ copper recovery followed by SX-EW treatment. The latter appeared to be the most economical option; however, low copper prices prevented development.
BHP acquired Magma in 1996 and created BHP Copper, Inc. which advanced the project to the fully permitted stage for ISCR production. In 1998, BHP initiated, but did not complete, a multi-month, field-optimization in-situ recovery test to gather copper-extraction and other technical data. The project obtained all major environmental permits under BHP in the late 1990s and Florence Copper is currently in the process of amending and updating these permits.
In 2010, the Florence Copper project, was acquired by Curis Resources who continued development of the project including advancing technical work as well as amending and updating operating permits.
In November 2014, Taseko acquired Curis and in turn acquired 100% ownership in Florence Copper.
The Florence Copper deposit formed approximately 62 million years ago when numerous dike swarms of Laramide granodiorite porphyry intruded Precambrian quartz monzonite near Poston Butte. Hydrothermal solutions associated with the intrusive dikes altered the host rock and deposited copper and iron sulfide minerals as disseminations and thin veinlets in the strongly faulted and fractured rocks.
The deposit was subjected to mid-Tertiary Basin and Range faulting and subsequent erosion, burying the entire deposit to a depth of approximately 375 feet. During the latter period, calcareous silty mud and clay layers were deposited in shallow basins that extended over the region. A 20-40 foot thick clay layer lies 60 to 100 feet above the bedrock and acts as an aquitard, preventing groundwater in aquifers above and below the clay layer from mixing. Mineralization in the oxide portion of the deposit consists primarily of chrysocolla with lesser other secondary copper minerals. Most of the copper in chrysocolla occurs in veins or as fracture fillings. The thickness of the oxidized zone ranges from 100 to 1,000 feet with an average thickness of 400 feet.
Underlying the oxide mineralization are sulfide (hypogene) and enriched (supergene) zones. In most instances, the transition from the oxides to the sulfide zone is quite abrupt.
The oxide mineralogy, fracturing, abrupt change from the oxide to sulfide zone as well as the presence of an overlying clay layer or aquitard, make the Florence Copper deposit highly amenable to in-situ copper recovery.