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Taseko produces first copper at Florence test facility in Arizona

Louisville β€” Canada's Taseko Mines said Friday it has produced its first copper from its Florence Copper production test facility in Arizona.

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Over the past three months, about 1.5 million mt of copper ore has been contacted with leach solution as part of the in-situ copper recovery project, the Vancouver-based company said in a statement.

Copper concentrations in the solution recently have risen to levels that have allowed the plant, located between Phoenix and Tucson, to begin operations and produce copper, it added.

"As expected, the initial leaching period has taken approximately three months and all results are in line with expectations," said company president and CEO Russell Hallbauer. "The scale-up from our laboratory and feasibility testing to the commercial scale has been relatively seamless."

With the entire wellfield and plant now operating as a continuous unit, Taseko plans to use the coming months to refine operational parameters that are expected to help with the ramp-up of the commercial plant.

Hallbauer said his company has "steadily advanced the project towards commercial production, de-risking it considerably from when we acquired Florence Copper in 2014 and we expect to have a financing package in place and to be starting construction of the commercial facility in the next 12 months."

Florence Copper is expected to produce an average of 85 million lb/year of copper for 20 years at an average operating cost of $1.10/lb.

-- Nick Jonson, nick.jonson@spglobal.com

-- Bob Matyi, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com