WhyAfrica’s Hawks Eye is on Orion’s Okiep in SA

Orion Mineral’s flagship Prieska project in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Image credit: WhyAfrica

By Leon Louw, founder and editor of WhyAfrica

30 May 2021 – In addition to Orion Minerals’ Prieska Copper-Zinc Project in South Africa, the company has also consolidated several projects in an extensive copper mining district, the Okiep Copper Project (OCP). With the copper price heading north and the outlook extremely positive, Why Africa’s Hawks Eye is on Orion’s Okiep project in SA.

JSE and ASX listed Orion Minerals’ Prieska Copper-Zinc operation, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, is the company’s flagship project. Historically mined between the 1970s and 1990s, Prieska is one of the world’s Top-30 volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) base metal deposits, with a recorded historical production of over 430k tonnes of copper and 1Mt of zinc from 46.8Mt of sulphide ore milled.

Apart from Prieska, Orion acquired and consolidated a significant interest in a historic copper mining region of South Africa under the Okiep Copper Project (OCP), located about 570km north of Cape Town, also in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.

According to Errol Smart, Managing Director and CEO at Orion, Okiep could become a future second base metal production hub for Orion in the Northern Cape alongside Prieska, which is situated about 450km east of OCP.

New drill targets at OCP

Two weeks ago, Orion announced that it has identified new high priority drill targets on the Carolusberg – Koperberg complex that form part of the OCP. The Carolusberg – Koperberg Complex is about 20km southeast of the Flat Mine Complex that hosts the current OCP Mineral Resources base (11.5Mt at 1.4% Cu for 159,000 tonnes of contained copper).

The Carolusberg – Koperberg line was first discovered in 1680 and subsequent workings have been intermittently mined from 1850-2001. Workings at this complex contributed approximately 35% of the total post World War II production of 105Mt of copper ore produced by the O’Okiep Copper Company (OCC).

Newmont and subsequently Goldfields, who were the owners of OCC, undertook extensive drilling and geological mapping during their tenure. Paper records of the historic exploration have now been digitised and are being modelled by Orion.

Unpacking huge value

According to Smart, Orion’s geological team at OCP continue to unpack huge value from the historic data that the company has secured.

“Using modern 3D GIS modelling, we are able to get a better understanding of the geological controls which assist in identifying high priority targets for drill testing,” says Smart.

“We have already demonstrated that the high-quality data allows us to fast-track the re-estimation of resources using historic drill data with a Mineral Resource of 11.5Mt at 1.4% Cu already reported in accordance with JORC 2012,” adds Smart.

This Resource was confirmed within three months of securing options on the mineral rights and the historic data.

Smart says that Orion’s attention at OCP is now turning to identifying high-quality targets for undiscovered high-grade deposits such as those historically discovered in the Okiep district including the Okiep Mine (that gave the district its name) which yielded 907,000 tonnes of sulphide ore at 21% copper, and Nababeeb South which yielded 816,000 tonnes at 5.5% copper.

“We are focusing on similar geological settings to that of Okiep and Nababeeb South and have identified high-priority targets to be tested on the BCC property which is currently under option to Orion. These high-grade deposits are usually found in pipes or blows and have very small dimensions of 150m – 250m diameter and were easily missed by historic wide-spaced drilling,” says Smart.

Leon Louw is the founder and editor of WhyAfrica. He specialises in natural resources and African affairs.        

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