Orion Minerals Ltd (ASX:ORN, JSE:ORN) has taken significant strides in its early production strategy for the Prieska Copper-Zinc Project in South Africa by releasing an updated Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) for the near-surface +105 Level Crown Pillar.
The updated MRE reveals a robust mineral resource, consisting of 2.3 million tonnes grading 1.7% copper and 1.6% zinc, contributing to the total mineral resource of 31 million tonnes at 1.2% copper and 3.6% zinc.
Within this resource, an indicated resource of 1.9 million tonnes boasts an impressive grade of 1.82% copper and 1.7% zinc.
The MRE represents a significant milestone for Orion as it forms a solid foundation for the upcoming trial mining program, which is set to commence immediately with the advantage of secured permits and funding.
Orion’s Managing Director and CEO, Errol Smart, expressed enthusiasm for the company’s progress: “Our strategy to bring the Prieska Copper-Zinc Mine back into production is now rapidly gaining momentum, with the completion of this updated mineral resource for the near-surface, +105 Resource Block, outlining a very attractive early mining opportunity at this fully permitted mine.”
The company plans to focus on the supergene sulphide indicated resource with a grade of 2.6% copper, which presents a compelling opportunity for its early mining strategy. Access to this resource block is readily available through existing underground development via a short ramp, enabling the trial mining to begin in the coming weeks.
Ore sourced from the trial mining phase will be used for metallurgical optimization tests and the detailed design of an initial processing plant at Prieska. Orion is also in discussions with metallurgical processing and engineering groups interested in providing processing facilities under Build-Own-Operate-Transfer arrangements.
The trial mining phase, metallurgical process optimization, and subsequent updated bankable feasibility study are fully funded, with a total of ZAR370 million available from IDC and Triple Flag funding facilities. A draw-down call of ZAR167 million has already been made from this facility.
Looking ahead, Orion has planned an infill drilling program of approximately 1,700 meters on the oxide resource in the September quarter to further boost confidence and gather additional metallurgical information. The completion of the updated BFS is expected in late 2023, and grade control drilling on a closely spaced grid will be conducted during the operational phase of mining, ensuring smooth operations and efficient resource management.
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