Orion secures surface rights boosting Okiep Copper Project

The Northern Cape is rich in minerals but remains largely ignored by offshore exploration firms

ORION Minerals said it had acquired surface rights that would provide it will additional drilling information as part of a bankable feasibility study.

The study is for the Flat Mines Project at its Okiep Copper in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. In February 2021, Orion exercised an option agreement to buy control of the Okiep project for A$7.5m which the firm believes could eventually be restored to historic copper production of 40,000 tons of metal annually.

An agreement with a landowner effectively gives Orion surface rights over the region totalling just over 12,000 hectares of land. In addition to the drilling information it will be able to secure, surface rights ownership also removes any conflict of interest in future surface use. This will allow outstanding Environmental Authorisations, and Water Use License and rezoning applications to proceed to completion, the company said.

“Conflicting land use interests have until now prevented Orion from accessing the surface area to conduct minor but important validation work to finalise the Flat Mines Bankable Feasibility Study,” said Errol Smart, CEO of Orion Minerals.

“The acquisition of surface rights also gives us the flexibility and required surface access to undertake future extensional drilling of the known deposits and resource categorisation drilling,” he said.

In August 2022 the DMRE granted a 15-year mining right over Flat Mines Area enabling completion of drilling work for the feasibility study. There is the option of extending the mining right up to a maximum of 30 years.

Orion Minerals is one of the few prospecting and development firms operating in South Africa’s mining sector. In addition to Okiep Copper, it is also developing the Prieska Copper Zinc project (PCZM), 450 kilometres away but also in the vast Northern Cape.