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In 2015 Imperial, with the help of its employees and many stakeholders, met the challenges of starting up its new Red Chris mine and responding to the 2014 breach of the Mount Polley tailings dam. These two tasks were made even more challenging as they were completed in a time of falling copper prices.
Imperial had a net loss of $97.0 million ($1.25/share) in 2015, compared to a net loss of $37.3 million ($0.50/share) in 2014, while cash flow was $14.8 million in 2015, compared to negative cash flow of $6.8 million in 2014 .
At Red Chris, the newly constructed processing plant was first operated in February 2015. The operation quickly ramped up and commercial production was achieved in July and by year end strict completion test criteria under the Company’s banking facilities had been met. During the year, 8.2 million tonnes were treated by the plant and 58.5 million pounds copper and 25,949 ounces gold were produced.
At Mount Polley, mine employees, First Nation members and local contractors worked through the 2014/2015 winter to complete the repair of the breach, and restore and rehabilitate the creeks impacted by the breach. The turbidity in Quesnel Lake returned to normal levels. On August 5, 2015, almost exactly a year after the breach, Mount Polley restarted using a modified operation plan using the Springer pit to store tailings. We are hopeful that in 2016 Mount Polley, with the help of our employees, First Nations and the local communities, will be able to return to normal operations using the repaired and strengthened tailings storage facility.
Huckleberry produced 43.3 million pounds copper, achieving 98% of its targeted production. The mill processed 18,529 tonnes per calendar day, up over 30% from the milling rate achieved in 2014. Early in January 2016 open pit mining operations were suspended while milling operations continued milling stockpiles. Copper prices will be monitored however Huckleberry is expected to be put on care and maintenance if copper prices do not increase by the third quarter of 2016.
On behalf of our Board of Directors, I want to thank all our employees and our stakeholders for their continued support through another difficult year. We look forward to Red Chris’ first full year of operation and the return of Mount Polley to normal operations.J. Brian Kynoch