Shares of Taseko Mines (NYSEMKT: TGB) surged Thursday morning and were trading 18% higher as of 11:30 a.m. ET after surging 23% earlier in the day to levels last seen in May. The Canada-based copper miner has received a crucial final permit for one of its mines, which should boost its production significantly in the coming years.
This morning, Taseko announced that it has received the final underground injection control permit from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency for its Florence copper mine in Arizona.
Taseko currently operates only one mine, Gibraltar, in Canada. Although Gibraltar is the second-largest open-pit copper mine in Canada, the company’s aim is to build lower-cost mines, which is why it acquired the Florence copper mine in 2014.
The project hit hurdles along the way, including backlash from local residents for its potential environmental impact, but today’s permit paves the way for commercial production at the facility.
Florence is an important asset for Taseko for several reasons. First, it will use a recovery process to extract copper that is cleaner and cheaper compared to traditional underground and open-pit mining. The miner expects Florence to use 93% less water and 71% less energy, and emit 83% less carbon compared to an open-pit mine. It says it believes the mine will make Taseko one of the most “green copper producers” globally.
Second, the Florence mine will nearly double Taseko’s annual copper production once fully operational. It has an estimated annual production capacity of 85 million pounds with a mine life of 22 years.
Third, the Florence mine could cut Taseko’s costs considerably since it is expected to extract copper at an operating cost of only $1.11 per pound of copper. For perspective, Taseko’s total operating cost last year was $2.98 per pound.
A mine that could boost production significantly while cutting costs is definitely a win-win, but there’s another reason Taseko stock skyrocketed today: Investors perhaps see plenty of growth ahead for the company since Florence will produce 99.99% purity copper cathode — vital for electronic devices and electric vehicle batteries.
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