Gibraltar Mine north of Williams Lake produced 112 million pounds of copper in 2021. (Gibraltar Mine photo)

Gibraltar Mine north of Williams Lake produced 112 million pounds of copper in 2021. (Gibraltar Mine photo)

Industrial Update: The Cariboo’s contribution to essential metal

Richard Tremblay is the senior vice-president operations, Taseko Mines

Since 2005, Taseko has operated the Gibraltar Mine, our flagship operation outside Williams Lake. Based on our long history in the community, many residents will have a general understanding of the important social and economic contributions Gibraltar has made in the Cariboo – providing secure and well-paying jobs, delivering local contracting and business opportunities, supporting charitable organizations and employing dedicated people who spend their personal time volunteering and contributing to the well-being of the community.

Generating social and economic value has always been the way we think about and run our business.

What may be less visible to our community partners, however, is the physical product we produce at Gibraltar – copper.

Taseko is principally a copper miner. Last year, Gibraltar produced 112 million pounds of copper. To give a greater sense of scale, this is equivalent to approximately 2000 rail cars full of copper concentrate – shipped to the Port of Vancouver for overseas transport and refining into copper metal.

Copper is an essential metal to our everyday lives. After iron and aluminum, it is the third-most-consumed industrial metal. Without operations such as Gibraltar, our society would not have access to the items we use every day – computers, cell phones, TVs, cars, trucks, water pipes, plus much more. Copper is also a critical component of items that are increasingly common in medical and hospital settings due to copper’s anti-microbial properties on high touch services, such as door handles, call buttons and bed rails. But beyond these everyday uses, copper is also a fundamental and irreplaceable material for facilitating the world’s transition to a low carbon future.

It is essential for all forms of renewable energy, including wind turbines, solar arrays, electric vehicles and for energy transmission. As global demand for these products continues to grow, so will demand for copper. In the years ahead, Taseko and Gibraltar will play an increasingly important role in delivering the metals required to facilitate the global transition to a low-carbon future.

On average, electric vehicles require up to six times more copper than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The average amount of copper required to manufacture a passenger electric vehicle is 183 pounds, versus 30 pounds for an average ICE vehicle.

To put that into perspective, Gibraltar’s 2021 production of 112 million pounds of copper is sufficient to manufacture 612,000 EVs. If all of Taseko’s 2021 copper production was used to manufacture EVs, and as a result displace an equivalent number of ICE-powered cars on North American roads, it would have the potential to offset 2.8 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year!

Of course, 100 per cent of Taseko’s annual copper production is not likely to be dedicated to any single purpose. But the example above provides a look into one of many valuable end uses of our product, and the important contribution that Gibraltar’s copper makes in the world today.

The people of the Cariboo can be proud that this important metal is being produced right here in our community. As a Company, we certainly are. As important as it is to contribute to the economic and social well-being of local communities, we are equally proud of our contribution to the global community, and the world-wide effort to combat climate change.

Richard Tremblay is the senior vice-president operations, Taseko Mines

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