Taseko Mines' CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Taseko Mines Limited (TGB)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 9, 2012 11:00 AM ET

Executives

Brian Bergot – IR

Russ Hallbauer – President and CEO

Peter Mitchell – CFO

John McManus – SVP, Operations

Analysts

Orest Wowkodaw – Canaccord

Mark Turner – Scotiabank

Steve Parsons – National Bank Financial

Tom Bishop – BI Research

Presentation

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Taseko Mines Second Quarter Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will be given at that time. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded.

I would now like to hand the conference over to Mr. Brian Bergot from Investor Relations. Sir, you may begin.

Brian Bergot

Thank you, Dave. Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Taseko Mines Second Quarter 2012 Results Conference Call. My name is Brian Bergot and I am the Director of Investor Relations for Taseko. With me today in Vancouver is Russ Hallbauer, President and CEO, Taseko; John McManus, Senior Vice President, Operations; and Peter Mitchell, Taseko’s Chief Financial Officer.

After opening remarks by management, which will review the second quarter business and operational results, we will open the phone lines to our analysts and investors for question and answer session. The Company and management’s discussion today will be presentation slides for our webcast participants. Alternatively the presentation can be found on the homepage of our website.

Before we get started, I would like to remind our listeners that our comments and answers to your questions may contain forward-looking information. This information by its nature is subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause the stated outcome to differ materially from the actual outcome. Please refer to the bottom of our latest news release for more information.

I would now turn the call over to Russ for his remarks.

Russ Hallbauer

Thank you, Brian. Good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us today to discuss our second quarter results as well as the ongoing status of the Company’s business activities.

Continuing with the formula that we developed for this call last quarter as Brian indicated, we have a slide presentation to help you understand as best as possible where we are technically with our ongoing operations at Gibraltar. Gross profit from our mining operations came in at CAD16 million for the quarter, generating CAD0.02 per share in earnings. Peter will speak in greater detail during his overview about particulars of our financial results in that regard.

Our operating metrics, we are pleased with in terms of where we found ourselves three to four months ago with the mine operating issues. We worked our way through those and are certainly in a better position understanding what went wrong that affected our mine throughput so dramatically and certainly the fact that we have produced over 9 million pounds in July indicates we’re back on track. If you have our slide presentation in front of you, I would like to walkthrough some of the highlights for you.

As discussed last quarter, the SAG Mill Throughput graph, slide one, indicates in a chronological manner how we performed over the last year. Ups and downs heading towards our ultimate goal and targets of achieving 2,450 tons per operating hour. Effectively if we look at the last year, we have cycled through a whole pit development sequence over the year and you can easily see encountering and dealing with various ore types, their hardness, how they react in the recovery circuit and how they ultimately are dealt with in our concentrator in terms of throughput has been challenging.

But for every down, there has been an up and generally an overall general and sustained improvement. We have this huge ore body with all its variables and we’ve been fine tuning our concentrator to deal with all its irregularities. And we believe we’re about 98% there. Now that we believe we finally figured out the guts of our SAG Mill and its mechanisms, we are now aggressively focusing on our mine to mill optimization initiatives.

As you can see from about the third week of June, at the right side of the chart when we began working on our mine to mill optimization plans, along with new mill liners and ports incorporating all of that, we’ve learned over the past year we’ve moved back up towards 2,450 tons per hour. Some of you may say that we were there at mid-December, early February and we were in terms of mill tonnage, but we were not entirely sure why we were getting the throughput we were. Was it the pit or the concentrator?

While we found out shortly thereafter our enthusiasm at hitting design targets was more about ore characteristics overall than mechanical modifications. We felt we had that under control at year-end but different rock type and other operational issues pushed us back. And even though we cut larger pebble ports at the end of May, because we were still dealing with ore that was blasted two or three months prior, we did not see immediate results.

In slide two, you can see that the 3.75 inch ball that we are now rejecting. You can see that in the circle, the yellow circle on the right side of the picture, but an important note is that re-circulating load that’s coming off the top of the screen decks. That is a very good indication of the performance of the mill. These 3.75 inch balls are both 70% spent so now with the discharge ports that we manually cut into our grates, we are now beginning to see the impact on those changes. The mill is more efficient and that is certainly evident in the re-circulating load.

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