Okiep copper project, South Africa – update

29th March 2024 By: Sheila Barradas - Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

Okiep copper project, South Africa – update

Photo by: Orion Minerals

Name of the Project
Okiep copper project (OCP).

Northern Cape, South Africa.

Project Owner/s
New Okiep Mining Company comprising Orion Minerals (56.25%) and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (43.75%).

Project Description
A scoping study completed in May 2021 has proposed a proof-of-concept-scale copper mining operation at the brownfield OCP, and has confirmed that the project’s deposits have the potential to be mined at low cost using openpit and underground mining methods.

The outcome of the scoping study, based on five initial deposits, supports the economic merit of developing a foundation-phase mining operation, while Orion conducts the required work and engineering studies to evaluate the potential to re-establish mining operations.

The life-of-mine for the proof-of-concept foundation phase is modelled for 12 years, during which concurrent exploration and mine expansion scenarios will be planned and potentially implemented.

The proposed foundation-scale mining operations could run at a design processing plant throughput of 780 000 t/y, resulting in 9 000 t/y of copper sold in marketable concentrates. This could potentially supplement the 23 000 t/y of copper production planned from Orion’s flagship Prieska copper/zinc project.

Only mineral resources from the Flat mines area of the greater Okiep Copper Complex are incorporated in the foundation-phase plan, leaving significant potential for future expansion scenarios to be considered.

Underground and surface mining methods will be used in conjunction with mineral processing using conventional froth-flotation concentration to produce the copper concentrates for export.

The proof-of-concept phase of the proposed operation targets the development of only those Okiep copper deposits for which Orion has verified and reported mineral resources during the early phase of the due diligence period. The milled production target comprises measured mineral resources of 33%, indicated mineral resources of 46% and inferred mineral resources of 21%.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has a pretax net present value, at a 10% discount rate, of R1.9-billion and an internal rate of return of 44%, with a payback from first production of 3.25 years.

Capital Expenditure
Peak funding is estimated at R643-million.

Planned Start/End Date
First production is possible within 16 months from the start of construction.

Latest Developments
Orion has reported in its results for the quarter ended December 31, 2023, 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, completion of the BFS is expected to be delayed until about midway through the third quarter of 2024. Orion concluded negotiations to access and acquire 12 156 ha of land, which encompasses the majority of the Flat mines project area, in January.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
ALS Chemex (core sample analysis).

Contact Details for Project Information
Orion Minerals, tel +27 11 880 3159 or email info@orionminerals.com.au.