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By Sarah Hurst
For Mining News 

Prosperity project could live up to name

Taseko Mines happy with pre-feasibility study for British Columbia property, which would be the company's second mine if developed


Last updated 1/28/2007 at Noon

Taseko Mines' Prosperity gold-copper project in south-central British Columbia could have a mine life of 19 years at a milling rate of 70,000 metric tons per day, according to a pre-feasibility level study that was completed in January. Vancouver-based Taseko is a subsidiary of Hunter Dickinson, the group that includes Northern Dynasty, which is developing the Pebble project in Alaska. Taseko operates the Gibraltar copper mine, also in south-central British Columbia.

The Prosperity project is about 78 miles southwest of the city of Williams Lake in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region of British Columbia. The pre-feasibility study indicates that the property hosts proven and probable reserves of 480 million tons, grading 0.43 grams of gold/ton and 0.22 percent copper. The study was done using long-term metal prices of U.S.$1.50 per pound for copper, U.S.$500 an ounce for gold, and an exchange rate of U.S.$0.80/C$1.00.

According to the pre-feasibility study, the total pre-production capital cost of the mine would be C$756 million and the operating cost would be C$5.78 per ton milled over the life of the mine. Prosperity's pre-tax internal rate of return would be 14 percent, with a six-year payback. Pre-production work would take two years, including upgrading and extending current road access and constructing the mine facilities and an electricity transmission line. The mine plan envisions a large-scale conventional truck shovel open pit mining and milling operation.

Concentrate would move by truck

The copper-gold concentrate from Prosperity would be hauled by highway trucks to an expanded load-out facility at McLeese Lake for rail transport to various points of sale, but mostly through the Port of Vancouver for shipment to smelters and refineries around the world. Based on the pre-feasibility study, the project would employ up to 485 permanent personnel. Another 70 contractors would be employed in areas including catering, concentrate haulage, explosives delivery and bussing.

"These results are a key step towards demonstrating the viability of our Prosperity project," said Russell Hallbauer, Taseko's president and CEO. "While there is still more work required to complete the feasibility study, there is significant opportunity held within this asset and we are confident that the economics will be further improved at the full feasibility study level. These additional copper and gold reserves, when combined with the 1.5 billion pounds of copper in the Gibraltar reserves, further strengthen Taseko's position for growth."

An updated, detailed feasibility study for Prosperity is currently being performed by Hatch Associates, and is due to be completed in May. An environmental assessment under the Canadian and British Columbia Environmental Assessment Acts is now in progress. Submission of the Environmental Impact Assessment is scheduled for April 30 of this year.


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