ORION Minerals has set discussions in motion aimed at having its proposed Prieksa Copper-Zinc Project in South Africa’s Northern Province supported entirely by renewable power.
The Sydney- and Johannesburg-listed company announced today a collaboration with Central Energy Corporation (CENEC), a business headquartered in Sandton that finances, procures, engineers and commissions energy projects.
CENEC is working to develop the Prieska Power Reserve Project into which Orion Minerals hopes the Prieska Copper-Zinc Project could be incorporated. The collaboration also builds on previous discussions Orion has held with juwi Renewable Energies, a renewable energy firm.
“Following South Africa’s signing of the Just Energy Transition Partnership agreement at the COP26 Conference earlier this month, South Africa is set to make a rapid transition away from the reliance on fossil fuels,” said Errol Smart, MD and CEO of Orion Minerals in a statement.
He added that Orion intended “to play a leading role in supporting this transaction,” adding that the Prieksa Copper-Zinc mine “could be potentially powered entirely by renewable energy and green hydrogen sources”.
Adding the Prieska Copper-Zinc Project as a potential consumer of renewable power would assist Orion Minerals in coming up with a financing package for the project which was estimated to cost A$432m to build. The project has been scoped for production of 20,000 tons of copper and 70,000 tons of zinc a year.
Orion said that using renewable energy would also help ratchet down mine operating costs as recent bids by South African renewable energy providers return an average cost of just 47.3 South African cents per kilowatt hour. This compares with the 2020 base cost estimate of 93c/kWh used in the Prieska bankable feasibility study.
Lower power costs also paves the way for the possible construction of beneficiation and downstream processing at Prieska, the company said.
“The establishment of an independently owned and developed, large-scale renewable energy production and storage facility right on our doorstep represents a hugely exciting opportunity to establish Prieska as one of the lowest carbon emission sources of copper and zinc supply globally, with the potential to ultimately achieve carbon neutrality for the project,” said Smart.