Orion Minerals has taken another key step in its strategy to become a leading diversified international base metals producer after exercising its exclusive option to acquire a controlling interest in the majority of the properties comprising the Okiep Copper Project.
In addition to the OCP Option acquisition Orion has also applied for additional Prospecting Rights to supplement the OCP mineral rights. The mineral rights holding of OCP are intended to be held by two newly formed Orion companies, namely the New Okiep Exploration and the New Okiep Mining Company.
Both of these entities will in future include empowerment partners in compliance with Mining Charter 2018.
In parallel, the Company has also exercised its option to acquire the database owned by the O’Okiep Copper Company, including all historical mining and exploration records for the OCP covering more than 60 years of production history.
The OCP is a significant growth opportunity as it could become a second base metal production hub for Orion in the Northern Cape alongside its flagship Prieska Copper-Zinc Project.
The OCP Option has been restructured since the initial OCP Option Agreement was announced on 2 February 2021, with Orion now directly acquiring the assets held by Southern African Tantalum Mining, rather than the entities themselves.
These entities hold the majority of the large, historical mines in this significant copper-producing district, which has produced more than 2 Mt of copper metal over a 150-year period to 2003. The mineral rights include numerous existing drilled copper orebodies with decline mine access and services in place.
Since signing the OCP Option Agreement, Orion has undertaken extensive due diligence work at the OCP, including the completion of JORC compliant Mineral Resource Estimates for an initial six deposits totalling 11.5 Mt grading 1.4% copper for 159,000 tonnes of contained copper.
In addition, the Company also completed a positive Scoping Study which demonstrated the economic merit of developing a foundation phase mining operation at the OCP while Orion conducts the required work and engineering studies to support its aspiration for achieving a larger mining operation with production at a similar scale to past owners Newmont and Goldfields who produced 30,000 – 40,000 tpa of copper.
Orion’s objective of rapidly expanding the Mineral Resource base at the OCP is supported by the exercise of a separate option agreement to acquire the extensive historical mining and exploration database held by the Okiep Copper Company covering more than 60 years of production and exploration history.
Drilling and geological information within this database has already supported the completion of the initial Mineral Resource estimates outlined above, as well as enabling Orion to define a series of high-priority initial drill targets within the OCP, particularly along the Carolusberg – Koperberg line.
Targeting for discovery of new mineralisation at the OCP is further supported by a recent agreement with the Council for Geoscience, Republic of South Africa (CGS) to collaborate on exploration initiatives across the Northern Cape. A major regional SkyTEM survey is currently being conducted under this collaboration agreement, targeting copper sulphide mineralisation hosted in mafic intrusive bodies within the OCP area.
Orion’s MD and CEO, Errol Smart, said:
“This is another pivotal moment in Orion’s journey to become a major base metals producer in South Africa, with two production hubs in the world-class Northern Cape Province and, in the process, a key supplier of metals that are critical for global energy transformation.
“Just six months after we made headlines in South Africa by securing an exclusive option to secure a controlling interest in this world-class copper district, we have delivered JORC compliant Resources, completed a Scoping Study, conducted extensive due diligence studies, embarked on major greenfield and brownfield exploration programs and now exercised our option to acquire key assets under a restructured agreement with the vendors.
“This is a wonderful achievement by our team which once again demonstrates the extraordinary ‘can-do’ culture within Orion. We are very focused on achieving our goals in an efficient and timely manner.
“Our due diligence investigation has confirmed and exceeded our best-case expectations, clearly demonstrating that the OCP is an outstanding opportunity for Orion to establish a second major base metals production hub alongside our flagship Prieska Copper-Zinc Project.
“This is an area that has delivered significant historical copper production – with previous owners, such as Newmont and Goldfields, producing 30,000 – 40,000 tonnes of copper metal per annum over many decades – and we believe there is a compelling opportunity to re-establish this scale of production following the completion of further drilling and feasibility work.
“Our recently-completed Scoping Study demonstrates positive economics from a smaller-scale proof-of-concept mining operation, with the potential for first production within 16 months of the start of construction. On that basis, we have exercised the option to complete the OCP acquisition, paving the way for us to commence more detailed Feasibility Studies on a near-term production opportunity.
“We will progress the Feasibility Studies in parallel with ongoing works to upgrade confidence in historic Newmont and Goldfields estimates of mineralisation not yet reported as JORC compliant mineral resources. This work is progressing with a multi-pronged exploration program, and ongoing project permitting.
“Following our exercise of the OCP Option, exploration programs will be intensified, with our due diligence work already having defined a series of high-priority drill targets along the prolific Carolusberg – Koperberg line of historical workings, and a major regional SkyTEM survey now underway in collaboration with the Council for Geosciences, to map out structure and potential mineralised mafic intrusives.
“These programs are squarely aimed at growing our resource base at the OCP to support a larger-scale, longerterm mining operation – an objective that will be significantly fast-tracked by our exercise of a second option to acquire a vast historical database of more than 60 years of mining and exploration records.
“Our objective is for future production from OCP, to supplement Prieska’s forecast production of 22 ktpa of copper and 70 ktpa of zinc, transforming Orion into a substantial base metal mining house with two operating hubs in Tier-1 mining districts in the Northern Cape.”