Errol Smart, chief executive of Orion Minerals, and Prejelin Naggan, head of primary markets at the JSE, after the confirmation of Orion’s listing. Photo: Matthews Baloyi
JOHANNESBURG - Dual-listed mineral explorer Orion Minerals has applied for a mining right for its Prieska zinc-copper project in the Northern Cape and announced the mine’s mineral resource had increased to 29million tons.

The minerals explorer, which is listed on both the JSE and the Sydney stock exchange, said yesterday that the application for the mining right was supported by a comprehensive authorisation application and provisional mining works programme, which envisages open pit and underground mining operations.

Orion managing director and chief executive Errol Smart said that the works programme contemplated a froth flotation metallurgical process to separate high-quality zinc and copper concentrates that can be transported by road or rail to established ports and exported to international customers. “The mining right application will allow us to meet our objective of commencing mine construction in mid-2019, subject to the anticipated successful completion of the bankable feasibility study (BFS),” Smart said.

The Prieska deposit was discovered by Anglovaal in the 1960s and then closed in the 1980s as a result of political uncertainty. Orion has poured money into modern exploration techniques to revive the operation of information contained in archive data. Orion also said yesterday that it had completed engineering studies that confirmed that the underground infrastructure was in good condition and suitable for future use.


It said the Prieska project total mineral resource had increased to 29.4million tons, containing 1.13million tons of zinc and 365000 tons of copper, up from 24million tons, mostly containing zinc, copper, gold and silver. The increase follows the granting of two prospecting rights over strike extensions across contiguous areas around the Prieska zinc.

Orion is optimistic about South Africa as an investment destination, following the political changes in the country that have seen Cyril Ramaphosa become president.

It previously said that while global zinc stocks were predicted to fall to critically low levels by the second half of this year, propelling prices to highs of above $4000 (R48060) a ton, according to research by consultants Wood Mackenzie.

The metal is mainly used in galvanising steel.

Orion shares remained unchanged on the JSE yesterday at 45cents.