by Richard Tremblay
The last few years have been very pivotal for both Taseko and the copper sector. The year 2016 began with depressed copper pricing and a perception of a significant over-supply of copper that would put downward pressure on an already low copper price.
There was very little optimism from most industry analysts and experts.
Mines throughout British Columbia and around the world were taking steps to lower costs, including cutting workforce hours and some even closing operations.
It was Taseko and Gibraltar Mine’s management team’s long-term planning, careful management of spending and continuous investment to increase efficiencies, modernize operations, and reduction of costs at Gibraltar that allowed the company to maintain operations and keep our workforce employed.
Copper, as with all other commodities, is cyclical and after years of low prices, the company is now benefitting from much higher prices.
Over the past three months, copper prices have averaged approximately US$3.15 per pound, which is 30 per cent higher than where it was at the beginning of 2017.
Additionally, molybdenum prices are 50 per cent higher today over the same period and are now more than US$12 per pound.
It is Gibraltar, Taseko’s long-life, cash-flow generating asset that is the foundation upon which a successful company is built.
The success of Taseko and the Gibraltar Mine directly affects the local Cariboo economy.
During an average year, Taseko spends close to $1 million dollars every day, much of it directly into Cariboo communities.
Approximately 95 per cent of Gibraltar’s wages are paid to those living in Williams Lake, Quesnel, and 100 Mile House, which equates to about $70 million in annual wages.
In addition, last year, Gibraltar spent more than $281 million on supplier goods and services.
Approximately 35 per cent of these expenditures (nearly $100 million) was purchased from suppliers and contractors in the B.C. Interior and Cariboo regions.
At Taseko, much of our success is a result of our hard working and dedicated employees.
Our approximately 650 employees remain focused on performance and maintaining a world-class operation, all while ensuring their health and safety at work remained paramount.
The summer of 2017 was a difficult one for the residents of the Cariboo and the many local businesses impacted due to the wildfires.
It was trying times for everyone, including at Gibraltar Mine. The commitment and resiliency of Gibraltar employees kept the site operational through this very challenging time.
Finally, it is worth noting that Gibraltar’s 2017 loss time frequency was 0.59 per one million man hours worked, well below the British Columbia mining industry average of 1.06.
As well, in February 2017, the Province of British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines awarded Gibraltar with the John Ash award at the 55th Annual Mine Safety Awards held in Victoria, BC, for the third year in a row. This prestigious award goes to the mining operation in British Columbia that has worked at least one million hours during the year with the lowest injury-frequency rate.
Richard Tremblay is the vice president and general manager at Gibraltar Mines