PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Dual-listed copper developer Orion Minerals has entered into a non-binding term sheet for $87-million in funding to advance the development of its Prieska copper/zinc mine, in South Africa, and has secured an exclusivity agreement to develop a specialist battery product refining facility in the Northern Cape.
The ASX- and JSE-listed company on Monday announced that it had negotiated the potential funding package with Canadian streaming and royalty finance company Triple Flag Precious Metals, and is now advancing towards a definitive agreement targeted for the third quarter of this year.
It is anticipated that $80-million in stream funding will be advanced against the delivery of 84% of future gold and silver by-product production, with Orion also to receive payments of 10% of the delivered precious metal value at spot gold and silver, at the time of delivery.
The stream funding is conditional on the mine development being fully funded, finalisation of an executable mine plan to Triple Flag’s satisfaction and, if required, South African regulatory approvals.
An additional $7-million in funding will be advanced against calculated payments equal to 0.8% of gross revenue from future mineral sales, conditional on Orion securing an additional A$20-million in funding for the start of mine dewatering and, if required, South African regulatory approvals.
“We are absolutely delighted to have achieved this significant milestone for the funding of the Prieska copper/zinc project,” said Orion MD and CEO Errol Smart.
“We have developed a strong working relationship with the Triple Flag team, and have been particularly impressed by their technical mining expertise and incisive questioning, as well as their diligent assessment of Orion’s environmental, social governance (ESG) commitment and their own alignment with our ESG goals.”
Smart said that Orion also took comfort from reports on how Triple Flag had engaged with one of its existing South African streaming counterparties during the Covid lockdown period, when the streaming party endured temporary shutdown of a converter at its primary concentrate offtake, and when the challenges affected mine operations and the delivery of metals.
“Triple Flag worked with the mining company and its host community to weather the storm, providing relief funding for the community during this very difficult time. That degree of integrity really impressed us,” Smart said.
Meanwhile, Orion has taken steps to realise its strategy of creating a fully-integrated base metals mining and processing business, entering into a term sheet to acquire a cornerstone interest in a future base metal refining facility in the Northern Cape.
Under the term sheet, Stratega Metals will undertake a technical due diligence for the use of carbo-chloro metal vapour extraction technology (CCMVT) for base metal refining of polymetallic concentrate produced from Orion’s projects.
The CCMVT process is derived from the modification of well-established refining technology used at refineries such as Vale’s Sudbury refinery, in Canada, Norilsk Nickel refinery in Russia, and Jinchaun Metals in China.
The key reaction in CCMVT uses carbonyl (carbon monoxide), which is harvested from air and recycled within a sealed, pressurised reactor vessel and circuit then feeding to distillation vessels to recover separated refined carbonyl metal powders.
During this 90-day exclusivity period, Orion is entitled to conduct amenability test work and due diligence, and during which Stratega and Orion may enter into a comprehensive earn-in agreement under which Orion may earn a 75% ownership in Stratega, by funding the establishment of a bespoke test work facility and demonstration plant, to be located at the Prieska mine site.
“We are thrilled to have secured exclusive access to what we believe could be a game-changing refining technology for the production of battery metal salts and fine carbonyl powders, both of which are experiencing surging demand within the burgeoning battery manufacturing sector. The battery materials sector is a key focus for Orion due to its strong growth outlook and its pivotal role in driving reduced global carbon emissions,” said Smart.