Taseko Mines said on Thursday that its Gibraltar mine – the second largest open-pit copper mine in Canada and the largest employer in the Cariboo region – produced 34 million pounds of copper and 369,000 pounds of molybdenum in the fourth quarter of 2023. 

The company said that for the full year, Gibraltar produced 123 million pounds of copper, “well above” guidance and 26% higher than the previous year. 

Copper production in the fourth quarter was supported by strong copper grades of 0.27% with ore from the lower benches of the Gibraltar pit. Mill throughput in the quarter averaged 83,000 tons per day and was impacted by additional downtime for maintenance and monitoring of the ball mill in concentrator #No. 2, the company said.  

Copper sales volumes in the fourth quarter were 36 million pounds, and year-end concentrate inventories remained above expected levels. 

Stuart McDonald, president and CEO of Taseko, said that the strong performance of 2023 is expected to continue in 2024 as the Gibraltar pit will remain the main source of ore for the first half of this year. 

Last year, Taseko agreed to buy a further 12.5% stake in the Gibraltar from Japanese trading house Sojitz.  

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The mine is operated by a joint venture in which Taseko has a 75% holding and Cariboo Copper holds the remaining 25%. Cariboo Copper is a JV between Sojitz (50%), Furukawa (25%), and DOWA (25%). 

The mine – which Taseko acquired in 1999 for just $1– is expected to be operational until 2038. 

Canada’s mining sector processes over 60 types of metals and minerals. The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture Exchange are home to 43% of the world’s public mining companies. 

Approximately 30 mining operations in Canada are sources for copper and base metals contributed more than $9.1bn to the country’s GDP in 2022.