Orion Minerals Limited has awarded a six-month trial mining contract to P2 Mining (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of Newrak Mining Group, to undertake the early works trial underground mining programme at the Prieska Copper-Zinc mine in the Northern Cape.
ORION Minerals has announced it has awarded a six-month trial mining contract to P2 Mining, a subsidiary of South African mining contractor Newrak Mining Group, to undertake the early works trial underground mining programme at the Prieska Copper-Zinc mine in the Northern Cape.
In a statement, Orion said Newrak would operate a trial fleet of ITC (integrated tool carriers) equipment with a full conventional mechanised mining fleet to compare efficiencies during the trial mining phase.
Newrak Mining Group is an experienced South African contract mining company with 28 years of operating history.
“Newrak will operate both with a fleet of conventional load, haul and dump loaders and with an innovative continuous loading machine which has recently been introduced to the South African market and secured by Orion on demonstration rental,” Orion said.
According to Orion, the ITC120 continuous loader was expected to bring improved efficiencies to mucking operations and accelerate access tunnel development and ore drive development.
Orion’s managing director and CEO, Errol Smart, said that this was a tremendously exciting period for Orion as it moved to active trial mining at Prieska and started its transition from developer to operating mining company.
“We have spent the past two months completing essential preparations, such as installing underground refuge chambers, upgrading the hoisting capacity of the emergency escape way to the surface, and sourcing and installing key ventilation equipment.
“With these essential safety and environmental preparations now complete, we can finally mobilise the mining contractor to commence drilling, blasting, and hauling ore to the surface,” he said.
Smart said the trial mining phase would also see Orion apply its core philosophy of bringing proven, innovative methods matched with appropriate skills and experience to its operations, while at the same time training and upskilling its host community members so that it can ultimately source its staff locally.
“We also aim to develop local enterprises to service Orion’s mines and the South African mining industry, encouraging our service providers and contractors to support these endeavours and contribute to the skills transfer and enterprise development,” he said.
Orion said the Newrak contract also covered the opening of the 143 Level historical stope draw-points for selective loading and hauling to the surface of broken ore remaining in the stopes, in order to perform bulk sampling and metallurgical trials on the material.
“If successful, this exercise will continue to build a stockpile on the surface for future processing once the concentrator plant is commissioned,” it said.
The group said that in awarding this contract, Orion is cognisant of the host community participation framework developed in consultation with local business chambers and community representatives.
“While Newrak will bring experience and skills for the efficient start-up of operations that are not available in our host community, Orion has ensured that the trial mining will be used as a platform to upskill and train local people,” it said.
According to Orion, Newrak will be taking on board members from the host community for training and skills transfer over the trial mining period.
“These are members of the host community that have shown an interest in a career in mining and form part of the first group of 20 trainees selected for Competency B training at the Murray & Roberts Training Centre in Carletonville.
“These trainees departed Prieska for their training on September 3, 2023. The 20 trainees will be considered for ongoing training under Newrak stewardship when they successfully complete their competency training,” Orion said.