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Taseko announces strong performance at Gibraltar and Florence Copper

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Global Mining Review,

Taseko Mines Ltd has announced strong operating results at both its Gibraltar Copper Mine and Florence Copper Project. Increased health and safety protocols continue and there have been no operational disruptions or known cases of COVID-19 at any of the company's locations to-date.

Russell Hallbauer, CEO and Director of Taseko, commented: “It has been a little over two months since we adjusted our mine plan at Gibraltar to respond to the lower copper price environment as a result of COVID-19. The mine is currently operating to the new plan and through the first five months of 2020 has produced approximately 57 million pounds of copper and nearly 900 000 pounds of molybdenum. Under the new plan we had expected site spending to decline by at least US$0.40 per pound. Total operating costs (C1) for April and May have averaged approximately US$1.30 per pound and cost deferrals in place accounted for an additional US$0.10 per pound of cash savings. We continue to see lower input costs across the full supply chain. Additionally, we just concluded a spot tender at a TC/RC rate approximately 40% below the 2020 benchmark level as buyers need clean, high quality concentrate like Gibraltar’s. We expect lower TC/RCs to continue due to a shortage of concentrate from ongoing mine curtailments.”

“Production guidance for 2020 remains unchanged at 130 million pounds (+/-5%) with the expectation of being at the higher end of the range after the strong first five months of the year. With the current price of copper at roughly US$2.50 per pound, the highest price since its rapid decline in mid-March, coupled with the weak Canadian dollar and Gibraltar’s low cost structure, we are generating a healthy operating margin.

Of immediate importance, we have found opportunities by changing the pit development sequencing and incorporating the Gibraltar pit after completion of the current mining phase of the Granite pit. The Gibraltar pit hasn’t been mined since the 1970s and is the lowest work index ore (softer ore) on the Gibraltar property. Access to, and processing of, this ore type will give major productivity and cost improvements to the operation once fully developed and active,” continued Hallbauer.

“At our Florence Copper Project, the test facility continues to operate on a steady-state basis with no disruption to our operation. PLS grade in the centre recovery well (most representative of the performance of the commercial wellfield) has been stable at roughly two grams per liter since November and recently the SX/EW plant producing at a rate of approximately one million pounds of copper cathode per year, mainly from the centre recovery well.

We have not experienced any significant supply chain issues, with all necessary feedstock materials available, allowing for steady cathode production and regular sales. With the experience we have gained over the last 18 months of operation at the test facility, we are very confident in our ability to ramp up quickly to full scale production once the commercial plant is operational,” added Hallbauer.

“Permitting and financing processes are progressing. Our expectation is that the draft Aquifer Protection Permit will be issued by the state regulator imminently. After the draft permit is issued there will be a 30-day public comment period and public meetings before the final permit is approved.

Discussions regarding a joint venture with interested parties are ongoing and we are about to resume more in depth discussions with banks and other potential lenders regarding project financing,” concluded Hallbauer.

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