Industrial Update 2015
2014 and the early part of 2015 have been challenging for the mining industry. Commodity prices are down, some like oil, silver, nickel and molybdenum are down significantly. Copper too is down; declining since 2011, copper hit a five-year low this past year.
If these low levels persist for a prolonged period it will add further economic uncertainty to the mining industry, not just here in B.C. but around the world.
While Taseko, and the Gibraltar Mine we operate, are not immune to these market challenges, we have been preparing for the possibility of lower prices for some time.
Gibraltar was restarted in 2004 and beginning in 2006 Taseko invested $700 million in a multi-phase modernization project. The main goal of which was to lower costs, increase production and be in the best possible position to ensure the company could weather the storm associated with copper price declines. By increasing production and lowering costs-per-pound produced, the operation becomes more efficient, more resilient, and possesses greater potential to remain profitable, and thus remains operating while other higher cost mines around the world will have to either curtail production or cease operations altogether.
The success at Gibraltar is in large measure a reflection of the skill and dedication of our employees to not only operational excellence but also to the well-being of their fellow workers.
Safety remains the top priority and great care is taken to ensure safety is the first consideration in all decisions and actions taken.
At midnight on Dec. 31, 2014 a significant safety milestone was reached when employees and contractors completed the entire 2014 calendar year without a single loss time incident.
A total of 1,711,467 person hours worked without an accident.
The Taseko-Gibraltar operation remains a vital contributor to local communities and the people living in the region.
With approximately 650 working at Gibraltar, we have a total payroll of $70.1 million per annum, with 94 per cent of employees concentrated in Williams Lake, Quesnel and 100 Mile House. And although spending is down in comparison to recent years, we remain committed to our local purchasing policy.
Gibraltar spent more than $76 million buying goods and services locally in 2014, which continues to help local businesses and generate additional employment opportunities in local communities.
Additionally, in 2014 Taseko-Gibraltar employees raised a total of $108,295 for the United Way in the Cariboo, demonstrating our employees’ personal generosity and determination to give back to the community. Over the past seven years, Taseko-Gibraltar employees are responsible for having donated approximately $630,000 to the United Way as a means to contribute to the local well-being of the Cariboo communities. This fundraising initiative, which is driven by employees, provides meaningful support for local charities and a chance for all of us to say thanks for the work they do and the contribution they make to the quality of life here in the Cariboo.
Through the challenging year, we remain proud of our workforce’s many accomplishments; it is their hard-work and unwavering commitment to the region that sets and inspiring example as we work our way through these times of economic uncertainty.
– Dave Rouleau is the vice-president of mining operations with Taseko Mines Ltd.