Taseko Mines Ltd. hopes its new Prosperity mine proposal will be approved by the federal government.
The gold-copper project about 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake is being redesigned to address concerns identified during the federal review process. The company says the new plan saves Fish Lake and its adjacent habitat.
Taseko says the new proposal, which is expected to add some $300 million in construction and life-of- mine operating costs, reduces environmental impacts, preserves Fish Lake and enables all mine operations and related components to be contained within one single watershed.
The federal government asked Taseko to redesign the project and address the environmental concerns raised by the federal assessment.
Taseko is confident it can address those issues and has submitted a new project description.
The company says it was never the plan to use Fish Lake as a storage facility for tailings — Taseko’s plans have been to build a specific facility for that purpose.
Fish Lake was to be drained under the original plan. When Taseko submitted the project in 2005, long-term price projections for copper and gold were $1.50 per pound and $550 per ounce, respectively. With those prices, Taseko says, there was no other economic way to build the mine.
Today, with long-term copper and gold prices having doubled, the project can bear the burden of the additional $300 million it costs to save the lake.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) now has the Prosperity project description which, at this point, is considered a draft.
CEAA reviews the project description and may seek further information from Taseko. There is no fixed time limit for this.
Acceptance by CEAA that the project description as complete marks the beginning of a 90-day period within which the agency posts a Notice of Commencement (NoC) and posts the project description on its website.
Then CEAA, in discussions with other departments, the province, and First Nations, decides on the nature and type of environmental assessment process to be used.
The time it takes from this point for the federal government to complete its environmental assessment process is depends on the process selected.
Taseko’s Gibraltar Mine
Last month, Taseko announced plans to proceed with a further capacity increase at its Gibraltar Mine.
Capital costs for the project are expected to be $325 million — $235 million for the concentrator and new molybdenum plant and approximately $90 million for mining equipment.
The additional capacity will increase Gibraltar’s annual copper production by approximately 60 million pounds to 180 million pounds.
Construction will take place this month and commissioning of the new concentrator is anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2012.
An average of 200 new construction jobs over a 20-month construction period starts this spring.
There will be 350-400 on-site construction jobs at the peak of construction, which is expected to be in the later fall of 2011 and through the early months of 2012.
Once construction is complete, 140 new permanent direct jobs at the mine will be required to support the new operating facilities.
Taseko estimates that an additional 308 indirect jobs, mainly in the Cariboo central Interior, will be generated.