Orion pleased with its interim performance

13th March 2024 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

Orion pleased with its interim performance

JSE- and ASX-listed Orion Minerals says it has successfully navigated a pivotal development stage in the six months ended December 31, 2023, having transformed from being a pure explorer and feasibility study executioner to a mining company that is actively developing an underground mine.

In a report to shareholders on March 13, Orion said it was building a high-quality pipeline of critical metals assets to supply the demands created by the global clean energy transition, having set itself the objective of achieving first copper sales from its development projects in 2025 and growing copper production to greater than 50 000 t/y by the end of the decade.

At Orion’s Prieska copper/zinc mine, an updated mineral resource estimate (MRE) was completed during the period under review for the +105 m level crown pillar block, revealing an increase in both tonnes and grade.

The block now stands at 2.3-million tonnes at 1.7% copper and 1.6% zinc, including an increase in the indicated resource to 1.9-million tonnes at 1.82% copper and 1.70% zinc. The overall mineral resource for Prieska has now risen to 31-million tonnes, grading 1.2% copper and 3.6% zinc.

In a move towards further development, Orion has appointed an experienced South Africa-based mining contractor for the trial mining of the +105 level supergene ore. This trial aims to test both conventional and alternative underground mining methods, with insights gained feeding directly into the updated bankable feasibility study (BFS).

As of the reporting period, trial mining is under way, marked by development drilling and blasting from the existing +105 level footwall haulage ramp to access the +105 block at the 95-m elevation.

Additionally, post-reporting period, the +105 block was successfully intersected at the 95 m elevation level.

Initiating the mine development and construction phase, Orion has started early dewatering and trial mining activities to provide essential inputs for the updated BFS.

The first funding drawdowns from the combined total A$33-million Industrial Development Corporation and Triple Flag funding facilities were completed in early August last year.

Meanwhile, at the company’s Okiep copper project, Orion reports that progress has been made with the completion and submission of the Flat Mines project BFS for independent expert review.

In collaboration with the independent expert review team, Orion is undertaking additional diamond drill holes into the Flat Mines East and South deposits. This step aims to validate the reliability of legacy exploration data to a standard satisfactory to lenders.

As a result, the completion of the BFS is expected to be delayed until about midway through the third quarter of the current calendar year. Additionally, in January, Orion concluded negotiations to access and acquire 12 156 ha of land, which encompasses the majority of the Flat Mines project area.

At the company’s Jacomynspan nickel/copper/platinum group metals project, progress continues with the second phase of the metallurgical test work programme. The primary objective of this programme is to produce battery precursor products and other critical metal micro-powders from Jacomynspan ore.

This work is being advanced under an exclusivity agreement signed with Stratega Metals.

Meanwhile, in the Fraser Range, in Western Australia, under the IGO joint venture, Orion has reviewed several targets for prospectivity. From these evaluations, two targets have been identified for additional exploration efforts.

Looking ahead, IGO plans to conduct an in-depth review of these targets and prepare an exploration programme for the Peninsula and Artemis targets in the first quarter of the current calendar year. Simultaneously, desktop reviews of the tenements will also continue.