Dual-listed Orion Minerals has started 2021 on a positive note with an encouraging set of results from its high-impact exploration drilling programmes targeting near-mine and regional volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) copper/zinc and nickel/copper targets around its flagship Prieska copper/zinc project, in South Africa’s Northern Cape.
Drilling was undertaken in the quarter ended December 31, 2020, on the Prieska copper/zinc mine, as well as the Namaqua-Disawell and Masizhame prospecting rights, including the K3 and K6 prospects at the Kielder project within the Doonies prospecting right; the Jacomynspan and Area 4 prospects within the Namaqua-Disawell prospecting right; and the B4 anomaly on the Boksputs prospect and at the Kantienpan prospect on the Masiqhame prospecting right.
Base metal sulphides were intersected at all five prospects drilled, with the drilling programme having delivered highly encouraging early results despite being impacted on by restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, a reduction in field staff, slower sampling and assay turnaround and the lack of availability of down-hole geophysical instruments that are currently stranded in Australia owing to logistical challenges.
Overall, the results confirm the under-explored nature of the Areachap province and the substantial opportunity for a major discovery, both in the near-mine environment around the fully-permitted Prieska copper/zinc project and the broader region, Orion states.
Despite these temporary challenges, the company intends to substantially expand its exploration activities within the Areachap province in the coming weeks given the "very promising" results generated so far and the potential to unlock major new growth opportunities for the company.
Orion MD Errol Smart comments that the strategic significance of these targets is that they form part of a world-class exploration package that is underpinned by the company’s fully-permitted Prieska project, which remains one of the few advanced base metal assets worldwide ready to move into construction this year”.
Some of the targets are near-mine opportunities that could quickly develop into satellite ore sources for the Prieska mill. Others sit further afield and have demonstrated strong geological potential to emerge as potential major new VMS discoveries of a similar size to Prieska, "or perhaps even bigger”.
The Boksputs prospect, in particular, caught the company’s attention as it fits into the latter category.
“Our first diamond drill hole, targeting a 400 Siemens electromagnetic (EM) conductor at one end of the syncline, has intersected multiple zones of copper-bearing sulphide mineralisation associated with chloritisation and magnetite.”
The hole is still in progress, but the evidence Orion is seeing from the drill core is that it is in a very big VMS system.
“Based on the encouraging results so far, we intend to substantially accelerate exploration at Boksputs, including a further deep diamond drill hole to test a strong 3000S EM conductor 3 km to the north at the other end of the syncline, along with surface EM and reverse circulation drilling across the entire strike length of the structure.
Orion's share price on the JSE rose by more than 15% on January 25.