Taseko Mines Limited (TSX: TKO; NYSE Amex: TGB) announces that its 2010 core drilling program completed at its wholly-owned Aley Niobium Project located near Mackenzie, British Columbia has been highly successful. Assay results indicate strong potential for development of a major niobium deposit and mine operation.
Taseko's 2010 exploration program comprised geological mapping and diamond drilling of 23 drill holes (2010-12 through 2010-34), for a total of 4,460 metres. Assay results for 21 of these drill holes have been received. These holes intersected excellent grade niobium mineralization across an area measuring over 900 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south. Mineralized drill intercepts range up to over 200 metres in length; the true widths will be determined by further delineation drilling. Niobium mineralization intersected is highly continuous and close to surface. The extensive body of niobium mineralization indicated by the 2010 drilling is wide open to expansion in at least three directions and to depth.
Russell Hallbauer, President and CEO of Taseko, stated: "We are very excited by the results of the 2010 drill program. Intersections of over 200 metres of niobium mineralization, many with high grades and beginning near surface, indicate that our Aley deposit has the potential to become a significant low cost, open pit niobium mine.
"The niobium market is very robust as use of this commodity continues to grow. The steel industry uses niobium to produce high strength, low alloy steels in a wide and growing range of applications. Ferroniobium prices remain stable, averaging approximately $50 per kilogram, and only three significant mines supply the global market. Therefore there is strong potential for our Aley deposit, which has all the appearances of a high quality discovery, to help fill the growing demand from steel producers for this important metal.
"For reference, the Niobec mine located in Quebec which has been in production since 1976 is an underground niobium operation with average grades of 0.45-0.55% Nb2O5. Niobec is one of IAMGOLD's most valuable assets and has been expanding production over the past five years with present production of some 5,000 metrics tonnes of ferro niobium annually.
"In 2011, we intend to accelerate work on our Aley Project. Based on the information collected so far, our engineering team will immediately commence conceptual planning to ensure we can complete the comprehensive program planned for this year. Our field programs will include extensive core drilling to delineate the deposit and collect preliminary geo-technical data for site design and metallurgical testwork."
Mr. Hallbauer added: "With limited near-term niobium production on the horizon and demand steadily growing, an open pit mining operation at Aley has strong potential to become a key asset for Taseko."
The Aley property is host to a carbonatite intrusion which was discovered by Cominco between 1983 and 1986. Cominco undertook a twenty-hole diamond drilling program in 1986 which led to the discovery of several areas of niobium mineralization of undelineated dimensions or continuity. Taseko purchased the property in 2006, and completed a small drilling and mapping program in another portion of the large property. The global financial crisis curtailed exploration work planned for 2008 and 2009, but systematic drilling and mapping undertaken in 2010 has now begun to illustrate the extensive, continuous distribution and quality of Aley niobium mineralization.
Niobium in the form of ferro niobium is used as an alloying element in steels and in the production of superalloys such as those used in the, automotive, aviation, pipeline and the power generation sectors. While demand for ferro niobium is currently increasing, ferro niobium production is limited to only three mining and processing facilities in Brazil and Quebec.
Scott Jones, P.Eng., Vice President, Engineering for Taseko and a Qualified Person, has reviewed this release.
Source: TASEKO MINES LIMITED