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Mining right paves way for R4bn NC project


'This latest investment confirmed that South Africa remained a preferred investment destination for mining.' - Minister Gwede Mantashe

THE DEPARTMENT of Mineral Resources and Energy has approved a mining right for Orion Minerals, paving the way for the development of a R4 billion copper-zinc project in the Northern Cape.

Speaking at the Australia Down Under mining conference currently under way in Perth, Australia, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, said this latest investment confirmed that South Africa remained a preferred investment destination for mining.

He added that the requisite regulatory and policy certainty had attracted more investments into the country.

“The revival of copper and nickel mining in the country provides a good replacement pipeline for the depleting minerals which have been mined for over 130 years,” the department said in a statement yesterday. “They are also an indication that mining is indeed a sunrise industry in South Africa. Therefore, the decline of other minerals should not be interpreted to mean the death of the entire mining sector.”

In 2018, South Africa’s mining sector received over $3.2 billion in investments which resulted in the creation of an estimated 5 000 jobs.

There are about 60 projects currently in the pipeline, with an estimated value of $7.8 billion and potential job opportunities of over 30 000 in the medium to long term, the department said.

This week. Orion, which operates in gold, copper, nickel and platinum, said the mining rights were valid for an initial 24 years and could be renewed on application.

Orion was granted mining rights for the project this year after a positive bankable feasibility study (BFS), which showed high-margin and long-life underground mining operations at Prieska.

The operation projects the mining of 2.4 million tons a year of run-of-mine feed over 10 years, with 21 thousand tons of copper and
70 thousand tons of zinc as differentiated concentrates each year.

Orion managing director Errol Smart said the company was working with its partner, Byrnecut, to establish a world-class mine in the Northern Cape.

“Byrnecut has an impressive reputation on the African continent both in terms of their operational proficiency and their approach to skills transfer and harmonious relations with local communities. Their involvement in developing Prieska will be invaluable,” Smart said.

Melbourne-based Orion raised $11 million to complete the feasibility study last year.

Regarding the raise, Smart previously said, “Our primary focus is Prieska, however, given the quantum of funds raised under the placements, we are also in the fortunate position of being able to invest in the exploration of our highly prospective landholdings that present significant potential further upside for shareholders.”