Taseko renews commitment to Gibraltar success

A view of the mine pit at Gibraltar Mine near McLeese Lake. - Monica Lamb-Yorski photo
A view of the mine pit at Gibraltar Mine near McLeese Lake.
— image credit: Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

By Brian Battison

Throughout 2013 Taseko’s 75 per cent owned and operated Gibraltar Mine, including all management and staff, has demonstrated  perseverance to grow the company into a world-class operation.

This success is evident through the major milestones reached at Gibraltar.

Although the recent decision by the Government of Canada to stop New Prosperity from going ahead was a low point in the year, the company continues to persevere.

Taseko remains committed to its employees, and the community in which it operates and remains proud to call the Cariboo home.

Operational highlights

With the completion of the $700-million, multiphase modernization and expansion program, Gibraltar’s production and revenue numbers achieved record results.  Specifically, in 2013 Gibraltar completed the ramp up of concentrator #2, a standalone facility that moves Gibraltar from a single line 55,000 ton per day plant to a dual line 85,000 ton per day plant, with a corresponding increase in mine fleet to accommodate this additional capacity.

The project was completed on time and on budget, with the first new copper concentrate produced in March 2013.

Annual copper production at Gibraltar increased to 121.4 million pounds (100 per cent basis) in 2013, a 35-per cent increase over 2012 and revenues for 2013 were $290.1 million from the sale of 85.4 million pounds of copper and 0.9 million pounds of molybdenum (Taseko’s 75 per cent share)

Grand opening

In September, the official launch of Taseko-Gibraltar was celebrated with more than 600 guests in attendance.

The flagship event celebrated the completion of the Gibraltar Development Plan, over six years in the making, the growth as a company and the building of Taseko-Gibraltar into the largest private employer in the Cariboo, a healthy and safe working environment, and the collaboration and partnerships with local First Nations, specifically the Williams Lake Indian Band.

In addition, the event celebrated Taseko’s commitment to the Cariboo with people who have not only helped fulfill their promise but have themselves made their own commitment to the Cariboo.

Commitment continues

As Taseko moves into its 10th year of production at Gibraltar since the re-start in 2004, the company remains committed to the Cariboo as a vital contributor to local communities and the people living in the area.

The biggest impact has been on jobs. The number of employees at Gibraltar has increased from 10 to almost 700 over the last decade, and the mine provides a total payroll of $62.7 million per annum, with 95 per cent of employees concentrated in Williams Lake, Quesnel and 100 Mile House. Gibraltar has become a cornerstone of the local economy.

Gibraltar’s success has wider ramifications for other businesses in the region as well. Gibraltar spent more than $124 million buying goods and services locally in 2013, which helps businesses thrive and supports a broader range of employment opportunities in the community.

In addition, Taseko-Gibraltar signed a Participation and Co-operation Agreement with the Williams Lake Indian Band, and partnered with British Columbia Aboriginal Training Association (BC AMTA) highlighting the company’s commitment to community engagement, education and training initiatives and economic development initiatives for local First Nations.

Path to New Prosperity

Taseko’s commitment to the Cariboo extends beyond Gibraltar, a couple hundred kilometres down the road, to the New Prosperity ore deposit.

New Prosperity is the largest undeveloped gold and copper deposit in Canada, the 10th largest in the world.

It represents billions of dollars in potential wealth and opportunity for British Columbia and for Canada.    More importantly it represents a once in a generation opportunity for new jobs and economic growth for the people of the Cariboo.

In February 2014, the Federal Minister of Environment announced that the government cannot grant New Prosperity the authorizations to proceed.

Taseko, along with many others in the Cariboo, were terribly disappointed by this decision. The company fundamentally disagrees with the decision.

The panel process and findings were flawed — a mistake was made by NRCAN during the panel process.

The panel relied on this mistake to arrive at flawed findings.

As a result, the federal government’s decision is wrong because it was based on these flawed findings.

Taseko has stated that this is not the end and has launched a judicial review asking the court to set aside the panel findings.

The plan to save Fish Lake is solid.

With this project you can have both — environmental protection and economic development.

Brian Battison is Taseko’s vice-president of corporate affairs.

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