Florence Copper - Project Summary

Project Summary

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 is a $25 million test facility designed to prove the integrity of the in-situ copper recovery process and provide the Company with important technical information, which was completed on-time and on-budget at the end of 2018.In December 2018 wellfield operations commenced and copper cathode production began in April 2019.

Concurrent with test facility operations, the Company is advancing a permit amendment process to transition to commercial production.

A Thorough process

This has been one of the longest, most thorough and detailed examinations of a mining project in the history of Arizona. Water protection is of the highest priority.

Florence Copper has met every requirement by both the state and federal governments. There is absolutely no doubt that the proposed test facility is environmentally sound. In fact, the in-situ copper recovery process that the project will use to produce copper is a very green process. Compared to a conventional open-pit copper mine, Florence will use ~90% less water, generate ~80% less carbon emissions and consume ~70% less energy. Additionally, there will be no mine tailings or waste rock and no long-term change to site topography or use of land.

The Production Test Facility

The Production Test Facility (PTF) at at Florence Copper is now operational.

The PTF is a small-scale test facility with 24 wells: four injection wells, nine recovery wells, and 11 groundwater monitoring-related wells. This phase will demonstrate to residents and the regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Arizona Department Environmental Quality that ISCR is a safe and proven process. The objective of the PTF is to further enhance the potential for economic recovery of copper; however, it is also an opportunity to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the ISCR process

Project Timeline

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).

The Company has commenced the permit amendment process to transition to commercial operations, with both the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Applications for an Aquifer Protection Permit amendment and an Underground Injection Control permit amendment have been submitted.Both are key permits required for commercial operations and will undergo public comment processes in the near future.

For the latest photos and video of the project , visit Florence Copper – Photos & Videos


Project Economics

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:

  • Pre-tax net present value of US$920 million at a 7.5% discount rate using US$3.00/lb copper
  • Pre-tax internal rate of return of 44% with a 2.3 year payback
  • After-tax net present value of US$680 million at a 7.5% discount rate using US$3.00/lb copper
  • After-tax internal rate of return of 37% with a 2.5 year payback
  • Operating cost of US$1.10 pound LME grade cathode copper
  • Total life of mine production in excess of 1.7 billion pounds of copper
  • Average annual production of 85 million pounds of copper for the life of mine
  • 20 year mine life
  • Total pre-production capital cost of US$200 million
  • Long-term copper price of US$3.00 per pound

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%

Project History

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.

Geology

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.

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