With New Prosperity on hold, central Interior mine could fund acquisitions
VANCOUVER — The battle over Taseko’s New Prosperity copper-gold project has played out in the media, corridors of political power and now, in court.
Out of the limelight, Taseko has sunk about $300 million into equipment that will increase production and reserves at its 75-per-cent owned Gibraltar copper-molybdenum mine in the central Interior, and the strategy appears to be paying off.
For the three months ended June 30, Gibraltar produced 38.5 million pounds of copper and 667,000 pounds of molybdenum — increases of 37 per cent and 100 per cent, respectively. Gibraltar is Canada’s second-largest open-pit copper mine and one of the largest employers in the Cariboo, with 700 workers.
“We’re in the early stages of really starting to make it purr like a fine-tuned machine,” Taseko CEO Russ Hallbauer said during a recent interview. “It’s a big accomplishment for everybody involved, from the employees at the site to the corporate folks that worked on it.”
Gibraltar’s site costs — “what we can control” — are down to about $2 per pound of copper, putting the company on solid footing in case of a downturn in metals prices, according to Hallbauer. Copper now sells for about $3.16 a pound.
“We can withstand all the bottoms of the cycle, unless it becomes very, very extraordinary,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »