Taseko Announces 2009 Year End Results

VANCOUVER, March 18 /CNW/ - Taseko Mines Limited (TSX: TKO; NYSE Amex: TGB) ("Taseko" or the "Company") reports the results for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2009. Except where otherwise noted, all currency amounts are stated in Canadian dollars.

For the year ended December 31, 2009, Taseko had operating profit of $48.3 million and earnings before tax and other items of $27.0 million, compared to an operating profit of $28.1 million for the 15 months year ended December 31, 2008. For the quarter ended December 31, 2009, the operating profit was $15.7 million and earnings before tax and other items was $3 million. Other items include an unrealized (non cash) loss attributable to derivative instruments.

Annual revenue was $188.9 million from the sale of 68.1 million pounds of copper and 0.7 million pounds of molybdenum at average realized prices of US$2.31 per pound and US$11.02 per pound, respectively.

Russell Hallbauer, President and CEO of Taseko commented, "The significant increase in metal prices in 2009, combined with steadily improving operational performance at our Gibraltar Mine, contributed to the strong earnings and cash flow for the year. Financially, we are in excellent shape with sufficient cash on hand to fund all capital expenditures at Gibraltar in 2010. Our Gibraltar team is making steady progress on construction projects and the new in-pit crusher/conveyor system, which is expected to begin its commissioning phase later this month."

Mr. Hallbauer continued, "Public hearings regarding the federal environmental assessment review of our Prosperity Project will commence on March 22 in Williams Lake. These hearings will take place in the local communities and are expected to last six weeks. Local support remains very strong and we are confident that all the hard work undertaken will create positive consequences through this final phase of the environmental assessment.

The financing elements of the $815 million Prosperity Project are being advanced with the timing of these initiatives aligned with the overall project schedule. In addition to the approximately $180 million from the sale of 25% of Gibraltar, which is expected to close imminently, we continue to work towards the sale of 20-25% of Prosperity's gold production for proceeds of approximately $350 million. Including Gibraltar cash flow, we anticipate having at least 75% of the cash requirements to build Prosperity committed by the time we receive federal approval."

Highlights

    
    Gibraltar Production and Sales

    -   In the 12-months ended December 31, 2009 production was 70.3 million
        pounds of copper and 0.6 million pounds of molybdenum, 12 percent and
        14 percent higher, respectively, than in the same period in 2008.

    -   In the 12-months ended December 31, 2009, copper in concentrate sales
        was 65.9 million pounds and 2.2 million pounds of copper cathode was
        sold. Molybdenum in concentrate sales was 0.7 million pounds.

    The following table is a summary of operating statistics:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Three months  Twelve months
                                                       ending         ending
                                                  December 31,   December 31,
                                                         2009           2009
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total tons mined (millions)(1)                       11.3           34.9
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tons of ore milled (millions)                         3.2           13.0
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Stripping ratio                                       2.2            1.8
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Copper grade (%)                                    0.319          0.319
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Molybdenum grade (%Mo)                              0.010          0.011
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Copper recovery (%)                                  84.1           82.3
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Molybdenum recovery (%)                              20.9           24.4
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Copper production (millions lb)(2)                   17.4           70.3
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Molybdenum production (thousands lb)                  113            629
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Foreign Exchange ($C/$US)                            1.06           1.14
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Copper production costs, net of by-product
     credits(3), per lb of copper                     US$1.67        US$1.24
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Off property costs for transport, treatment
     (smelting & refining) & sales per lb of copper   US$0.31        US$0.30
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total cash costs of production per lb of copper   US$1.98        US$1.54
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (1) Total tons mined includes sulphide ore, low grade stockpile material,
        overburden, and waste rock which were moved from within pit limit to
        outside pit limit during the period.
    (2) Copper production includes concentrate and cathode.
    (3) By-product credit is calculated on a three month total and averaged
        over the quarter.
    

Total cash costs for the quarter ended December 31, 2009 were approximately US$0.44/lb above the annual average. This was the result of the combination of low production in October due to milling lower than deposit average grades because of a geotechnical event in July 2009, costs associated with removal by a contractor of very loose soils at the location of the geotechnical event in July 2009, and an increased strip ratio as the mine moved back to the mine site average strip ratio based on continued strength in the price of copper. The higher costs were partially off-set by increased copper recoveries related to the completion of commissioning of the cleaner and regrind circuits.

The following table illustrates fourth quarter of 2009 copper production and recovery with the results from the first two months of 2010:

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             October  November  December   January  February
                                2009      2009      2009      2010      2010
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mill Throughput
     (millions, tons)            1.1       1.1       1.0       1.2       1.2
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recoveries (%)              79.9      82.8      89.8      88.9      90.1
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Production
     (millions, pounds)          4.8       5.7       6.8       8.7       6.8
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

Gibraltar Fixed Infrastructure Upgrades and Installations

Improvements to the concentrator and ore handling facilities at Gibraltar continued through the fourth quarter. The higher capacity cleaner flotation circuit and modern regrind tower mill completed in August were fully commissioned in mid-November providing the recovery improvements listed in the table above.

As at March 16, construction is approximately 95% complete on the new in-pit 60-inch by 89-inch crusher and conveyor system which, when completed and commissioned, will reduce operating costs and improve mine productivity by replacing the smaller original Gibraltar crusher and supplanting approximately three diesel-powered haulage trucks with an electrically driven overland conveyor belt.

Replacement of the current single-line tailings system with a two line system and substitution of the natural gas fired concentrate dryer with a filter press are planned to be completed in the second and third quarter, respectively. This equipment will reduce operating cost, provide a more stable operating platform, and will be able to manage increased volume as mill throughput increases.

Detailed engineering is near completion on a (SAG) mill direct feed system which is designed to improve mill availability, increase throughput and reduce costs by eliminating the complicated secondary crusher and fine ore feed system. The new direct feed system will also allow larger mill feed more appropriate for autogenous grinding than can be achieved with the current system. Completion of construction of the direct feed system is expected in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Prosperity

Taseko holds a 100% interest in the Prosperity property, located 125 kilometers southwest of the City of Williams Lake. The property hosts a large porphyry gold-copper deposit amenable to open pit mining.

On January 14, 2010, Taseko received the environmental assessment certificate for the Prosperity Project from the British Columbia Provincial Ministry of Environment. This is an important milestone as it is the provincial government which is responsible for mine development in British Columbia. The Provincial Mines Act permit application is planned to be submitted to the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources before the end of March 2010.

The federal process, conducted by a three-person Panel operating under defined Terms of Reference are required to complete their work in a timely and efficient manner. The hearings are scheduled to commence in late March and be completed in early May of 2010. Following conclusion of the hearings, the Panel will submit their findings to the Federal Minister of Environment for a decision. This process is expected to be completed by mid 2010.

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Taseko will host a conference call on Friday, March 19, 2010 at 11:00
    a.m. Eastern Time (8:00 a.m. Pacific) to discuss these results. The
    conference call may be accessed by dialing (888) 300-2318, or (719) 325-
    2112 internationally. A live and archived audio webcast will also be
    available at www.tasekomines.com.

    The conference call will be archived for later playback until March 26,
    2010 and can be accessed by dialing (888) 203-1112 in Canada and the
    United States, or (719) 457-0820 internationally and using the passcode
    7449730.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Russell Hallbauer
    President and CEO
    

No regulatory authority has approved or disapproved of the information in this news release.

Forward Looking Statements

This document contains "forward-looking statements" that were based on Taseko's expectations, estimates and projections as of the dates as of which those statements were made. Generally, these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "outlook", "anticipate", "project", "target", "believe", "estimate", "expect", "intend", "should" and similar expressions.

Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the Company's actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These included but are not limited to:

    
    -   uncertainties and costs related to the Company's exploration and
        development activities, such as those associated with continuity of
        mineralization or determining whether mineral resources or reserves
        exist on a property;
    -   uncertainties related to the accuracy of our estimates of mineral
        reserves, mineral resources, production rates and timing of
        production, future production and future cash and total costs of
        production and milling;
    -   uncertainties related to feasibility studies that provide estimates
        of expected or anticipated costs, expenditures and economic returns
        from a mining project;
    -   uncertainties related to our ability to complete the mill upgrade on
        time estimated and at the scheduled cost;
    -   uncertainties related to the ability to obtain necessary licenses
        permits for development projects and project delays due to third
        party opposition;
    -   uncertainties related to unexpected judicial or regulatory
        proceedings;
    -   changes in, and the effects of, the laws, regulations and government
        policies affecting our exploration and development activities and
        mining operations, particularly laws, regulations and policies;
    -   changes in general economic conditions, the financial markets and in
        the demand and market price for copper, gold and other minerals and
        commodities, such as diesel fuel, steel, concrete, electricity and
        other forms of energy, mining equipment, and fluctuations in exchange
        rates, particularly with respect to the value of the U.S. dollar and
        Canadian dollar, and the continued availability of capital and
        financing;
    -   the effects of forward selling instruments to protect against
        fluctuations in copper prices and exchange rate movements and the
        risks of counterparty defaults, and mark to market risk;
    -   the risk of inadequate insurance or inability to obtain insurance to
        cover mining risks;
    -   the risk of loss of key employees; the risk of changes in accounting
        policies and methods we use to report our financial condition,
        including uncertainties associated with critical accounting
        assumptions and estimates;
    -   environmental issues and liabilities associated with mining including
        processing and stock piling ore; and
    -   labour strikes, work stoppages, or other interruptions to, or
        difficulties in, the employment of labour in markets in which we
        operate mines, or environmental hazards, industrial accidents or
        other events or occurrences, including third party interference that
        interrupt the production of minerals in our mines.
    

For further information on Taseko, investors should review the Company's annual Form 40-F filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission www.sec.com and home jurisdiction filings that are available at www.sedar.com.

SOURCE Taseko Mines Limited

For further information: For further information: Brian Bergot, Investor Relations, (778) 373-4545, toll free 1-800-667-2114


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890