By Rose Ragsdale
For Mining News 

Progress made at Pebble's sister projects

British Columbia: Taseko goes it alone with Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine, makes headway at Prosperity copper-gold project


Last updated 8/27/2006 at Noon

In posting third-quarter profits, Taseko Mines Ltd., a subsidiary of Vancouver, B.C.-based Hunter Dickinson, also shared the latest on its Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine and its advanced-stage Prosperity copper-porphyry project, both located in south-central British Columbia.

Hunter Dickinson, which is developing the Pebble copper-molybdenum deposit in southwest Alaska through its Northern Dynasty Ltd. subsidiary, has cited Gibraltar as an example of the environmentally responsible mining practices that the company aims to pursue at Pebble.

Taseko reported earnings of $4.1 million for the quarter that ended June 30, down substantially from $11.6 million during the same period a year ago. Revenues totaled $54.8 million and $5.2 million, respectively, realized from sales of copper and molybdenum. That compares with $32.3 million and $7.9 million, respectively, a year ago.

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In July, Taseko said it voluntarily withdrew from its joint venture with Ledcor CMI Ltd. to operate the Gibraltar mine.

"Taseko will assume responsibility for all matters in connection with the Gibraltar Mine with effect from Nov. 5, 2006, " President & CEO Russell E. Hallbauer said in a statement July 17.

"Taseko wishes to take this opportunity to acknowledge the significant efforts and expertise of Ledcor throughout the re-commissioning phase and for its exceptional services as a joint venture partner during the operation of the Gibraltar facility," Hallbauer added.

Gibraltar expansion moves apace

As of Aug. 14, work continued on the $62 million expansion and upgrade to the concentrator facility at Gibraltar with engineering and procurement on schedule, Taseko said. Engineering is about 30 percent complete, orders have been placed for major components, and the tendering process is under way for major contractors. The project will increase annual production capacity at Gibraltar to 100 million pounds of copper from 70 million pounds by 2008.

Meanwhile, rehabilitation of Gibraltar's solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX-EW) plant, which began in April, is on schedule and on budget. The plant is due on line this fall, with 7 million pounds of copper in cathode annual capacity.

Originally developed in 1972 by Placer Development, predecessor to Placer Dome, Gibraltar changed hands several times until Taseko acquired the operation in 1999. The company placed the mine on standby until operations resumed in 2004, amid strong copper and molybdenum prices. Average prices realized for copper and molybdenum during the quarter ended June 30, were $3.08 per pound and $24.81 per pound, respectively, Taseko said.

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Taseko said its 2006 drilling program at Gibraltar met with success. Since March, 62 diamond drill holes, totaling 18,000 meters, have been completed. The drilling program is designed to expand information on mineral resources near current mineral reserves in order to update the geological and mine models. Work, so far, is confirming the continuity of the mineralization. It is expected that completion of modeling and new mine plan development will allow conversion of additional measured and indicated resources to proven and probable reserves, the company said.

Feasibility study updated at Prosperity

At its Prosperity gold-copper project, one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in Canada, Taseko said updating the feasibility study was progressing with completion of scoping level studies for the mill redesign and mill operating and capital costs. Additional scoping studies are under way to assess optimal designs of the tailings impoundment system and to review mining and infrastructure costs.

The deposit is an estimated 4.4 billion-pound copper and 9.2 million-ounce gold resource, at a 0.2 percent Cu cut off, according to a 1998 evaluation by G. Giroux, P.Eng.

The Prosperity Project Environmental Impact Assessment is also well under way with ongoing ground and research work to complete earlier baseline data and studies in the biophysical, socio-economic, archeological, and traditional use fields. The environmental assessment report is scheduled to be substantially complete by the spring of 2007, the company said.

Aurora Geosciences geology and geophysics 35 years of experience in the North

Taseko has targeted Prosperity as a major step towards becoming a mid-tier mining company.


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