Prieska copper/zinc project, South Africa – update

3rd November 2023 By: Sheila Barradas - Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

Prieska copper/zinc project, South Africa – update

Photo by: Orion Minerals

Name of the Project
Prieska copper/zinc project.

Northern Cape, South Africa.

Project Owner/s
Diversified metals explorer and developer Orion Minerals.

Project Description
An updated bankable feasibility study- (BFS-) 20 has confirmed the potential of Prieska to underpin a significant near-term, low-cost, copper/zinc development project, with exceptional opportunities for future growth.

The updated BFS on the foundation phase of the project proposes the development of a new 2.4-million-tonne-a-year copper/zinc mining operation at the brownfield project.

Underground and surface mining methods are planned to be used in conjunction with conventional froth-flotation concentration to produce differentiated copper and zinc concentrates for export.

Peak production is estimated at 23 000 t/y of copper and 88 000 t/y of zinc.

The life-of-mine has been extended by two years, from 9.7 years to 11.5 years.

Material changes in the updated BFS, compared with the 2019 BFS plan, include:

The mining methods for the project remain unchanged, compared with those stated in the 2019 BFS. Tunnel development remaining from the previous mining operations allows for early access to underground production mining areas. It is planned that a combination of longhole open stoping with fill and drift-and-fill mining methods will be used, supported with paste backfill.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has a net present value, at an 8% discount rate, of A$779-million, compared with A$574-million in the 2019 BFS, and an internal rate of return of 39%, compared with 38%, in the 2019 BFS. Payback from first production is estimated at 2.4 years, a decrease of five months.

Capital Expenditure
Market intelligence firm S2 Research noted in May 2022 that the peak funding requirement of Orion Minerals’ Prieska project had decreased from R2.4-billion to R2.25-billion. This has reduced the funding risk of the project.

In a prior note, S2 anticipated that Orion would need R2.7-billion to develop and optimise the Prieska mine.

Planned Start/End Date
Orion Minerals is targeting production startup in 2024, market conditions permitting.

Latest Developments
Orion Minerals is continuing its transition to mine developer and operator at the Prieska mine.

The company is prioritising the development of projects capable of meeting the growing demand for key future-facing metals that have strong market fundamentals because of declining global resource inventories, falling grades at major mines and lack of investment in new mines.

A six-month trial mining contract has been awarded to South African contract mining company Newrak Mining, which will target the near-surface crown pillar deposit using conventional and alternative underground mining methods.

Initial project development funding of A$13.8-million was drawn down in July from facilities totalling R370-million, comprising a R250-million convertible loan facility from the Industrial Development Corporation and A$10-million from the Triple Flag early funding arrangement.

Primary dewatering of the Prieska mine is expected to start in the first quarter of 2024 following commissioning of the primary 15 MW electrical power supply. Meanwhile, the installation of a 178 m rising main dewatering pipe has been completed.

The updated feasibility study on the accelerated development strategy and staged ramp-up at Prieska is on track for completion by the middle of next year, once trial mining has been completed.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Companies involved in the BFS included A&B Global Mining; ABS Africa; BPDT & Co; Bluhm Burton Engineering & Ventilation Consultants; Beulah Africa; Cart Investments; DRA Projects South Africa; Earth Science Solutions; Endeavour Financial Limited; Falcon and Hume Attorneys Inc; Fraser McGill Mining & Minerals Advisory; Knight Piésold; METC Engineering; Gariep Mining and Exploration Services; Mets Consulting South Africa; Patterson and Cooke; PCDS Consultants; Power Plant Electrical Technologies; Professional Cost Consultants; Promethium Carbon; Shift Innovations; SRK Consulting; Strategy4Good; The MSA Group; Turnkey Civil (International) Group; VBKom Engineering Consultants; Whittle Consulting; Z Star Mineral Resource Consultants; P2 Mining (early works trial underground mining programme); and Newrak Mining (trial mining contract).

Contact Details for Project Information
Orion Minerals, tel +27 11 880 3159 or email