Orion Minerals is set to fast-track exploration and evaluation of the Okiep copper district in the Northern Cape after securing a major database of historical mining and exploration records. Picture: ANA
Orion Minerals is set to fast-track exploration and evaluation of the Okiep copper district in the Northern Cape after securing a major database of historical mining and exploration records. Picture: ANA

Orion Minerals to fast-track exploration of Northern Cape copper

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Feb 16, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - ORION Minerals is set to fast-track exploration and evaluation of the Okiep copper district in the Northern Cape after securing a major database of historical mining and exploration records, it said yesterday.

Orion, a junior Australian JSE- and ASX-listed copper explorer and developer, said it had secured an option to acquire the entire furnished head office and database of O’Okiep Copper Company (OCC) for R25 million, payable in cash and Orion shares.

Orion said the data comprised exploration records and historical due diligence reviews over much of the Northern Cape, including Orion’s Prieska Copper-Zinc Mine and the Areachap Belt, undertaken by Newmont and Goldfields through the O’Okiep Copper Company.

Managing director and chief executive Errol Smart said the data would attract investments and unlock possible development opportunities.

“As any geologist will tell you, data is key – and this is one of the largest and highest-quality datasets that I have seen in my career, illuminating some of the best exploration and development opportunities that I have ever seen anywhere in the world,” Smart said.

He said the acquisition of the dataset was a remarkable coup for the group given that it comprised more than 150 000 hard-copy records, including drilling and sampling of more than 26 000 drill holes.

Smart said the acquisition was a step forward for the group, as the data encompassed more than 60 years of intensive work by top explorationists and geologists.

“As a result of this deal, we now have immediate access and use of all of the data, which will allow a giant step forward with our due diligence investigations over the next six months,” Smart said.

Orion said a large proportion of the hard-copy records had been converted to high-resolution digital format and had been used to capture a large digital database of drilling data.

“This will allow resource modelling and target generation to proceed rapidly,” said Orion.

Smart said although the OCC Vendors did have some access to review the historical data, the lack of direct ownership of the data and the ability to use digitised data and to access drilling databases suitable for use with modern software modelling packages limited their ability to extract meaningful value from the historic reports.

“This was a significant impediment to attracting investment by the OCC Vendors,” Smart said.

Two weeks ago, Orion said it had signed a deal to acquire OCC in two tranches of R86m and R97m in cash and in shares. OCC was previously mined by Newmont, the world’s largest gold producer, before exiting South Africa.

Orion said consolidating important datasets and records with current prospecting rights and mining rights that were subject to the OCC option agreement unlocked enormous value.

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