TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – First-quarter copper production from Taseko Mines' Gibraltar operation, in British Columbia, fell 17% compared with a year earlier, after output was affected by harsh weather conditions and an unscheduled maintenance shutdown, the company said on Tuesday.
Taseko produced 19,2-million pounds of copper from Gibraltar in the first three months of this year, compared with 23,2-million a year ago.
Molybdenum production rose to 316 000 lb, from 194 000 lb in the first quarter of 2010.
The company has seen improvements in molybdenum recoveries, which are now approaching 40%, up from 25% in 2010, Taseko said.
The company said on Tuesday that the severe winter weather had also affected the construction of a new semi-autogenous grinding direct-feed system, but that ore would be delivered to the new system later this week, to start commissioning.
“The new feed system will eliminate the current secondary crusher bottleneck and increase Gibraltar's daily milling capacity by more than 20% over that achieved in 2010, especially in winter conditions," CEO Russell Hallbauer said in a statement.
Taseko announced in February it had approved a significant expansion at the Gibraltar copper/molybdenum operation, boosting copper production by about 60-million pounds a year, to 180-million pounds a year, and adding a new molybdenum recovery facility.
Engineering and procurement for the expansion is “well under way”, Hallbauer said.
Construction will start in May with commissioning scheduled for December 2012, he said.
Taseko shares declined 2,45% on Tuesday morning, to C$5,17 a share by 10:52 in Toronto.