Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Newly listed Orion Minerals has raised $5.5m towards its drilling programme at its Prieska zinc and copper project to publish a resource statement by March and clear the way to speak more openly about the project, says chairman Denis Waddell.

Constrained by Australian bourse rules to refrain from speaking in detail about the project, which entails bringing an opencast mine into production, building a processing plant and resuming operations at an underground mine idled more than 20 years ago, Waddell said a priority for Orion was the completion of the drilling.

Orion is spending more than R20m a month on drilling the large deposit, which is estimated to have more than 20-million tonnes of in situ material left behind by Anglovaal Mining when it shuttered the mine around 1990.

The drilling will confirm Anglovaal’s extraction data at the Northern Cape mine and avoid a situation similar to that of Central Rand Gold, which found unexpected voids in the reefs it had planned to extract at old gold mines near Johannesburg.

While wishing to expedite the programme to develop a resource statement that would comply with the Australian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves, known as JORC, Orion wanted to make sure the drilling was completed by early January and a statement drawn up in March, coinciding with plans to apply for a mining right at Prieska, Waddell said.

The finalisation of a JORC-compliant resource would also encourage traction with Australian, and hopefully South African, investors to buy the shares, which had not shot out the lights since their secondary listing on the JSE in September 2017, he said.

The quality of the remaining resources, as well as the prospectivity of the 1,800km² land package in the Northern Cape, would have been pounced on if it were in Australia, he said. "It’s staggering that there’s been very little exploration in this whole very prospective area for 30 years.

"It would attract so much interest in Western Australia if you could transfer it there."

The $5.5m was raised by placing 229-million shares with "sophisticated and professional investors", the company said.

seccombea@bdfm.co.za

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