Laboratories overwhelmed by glut of copper projects – Smart

Errol Smart, CEO & MD, Orion Minerals

AN increase in copper exploration had overwhelmed accredited laboratories responsible for assay reports, said Orion Minerals CEO and MD Errol Smart.

Announcing assay results from the firm’s Flat Mine East, which is part of its Okiep Copper Project in the Northern Cape, Smart said on Monday that laboratories were struggling to keep pace with demand from project developers.

“We have been frustrated by the slow turnaround from accredited laboratories, which are overloaded with exploration samples,” said Smart on Monday.

“This is indicative of the intensity of activity in the copper exploration industry and is in itself an indicator of the challenges involved in accelerating mine development to counter the global metal supply deficit that is developing,” he added.

Smart described the latest results from Okiep Copper as “outstanding hits” and that they clearly showed “why this district has been such a prolific producer of copper for such a long period of time”.

In April, Orion published a series of diamond drilling results from its Flat Mine project at Okiep which included a “standout intercept” of 49 metres at 4.89% copper from 231m down hole including 10.23m at 12.47% copper.

“This standout intercept is one of the highest-grade intercepts reported in South Africa for the past 40 years. While it is always exciting to drill such spectacular intersections, they are not unexpected at Okiep,” said Smart at the time.

“For me as a geologist, this underscores the huge potential of Orion’s 641 square kms of mineral right holdings which contain literally hundreds of mapped, outcropping mineralised bodies.”

The latest results “add further momentum to Orion’s development strategy for the OCP (Okiep Copper Project),” said Smart.

Scoping studies suggest Orion could be in production from Okiep Copper Project in 12 to 18 months but the company will have to build a concentrator and tailings dam – both of which require financing.

“We are having some very interesting discussions on the financing plans at the moment with potential joint venture and investment partners,” said Smart in April. “As soon as that is done construction will start and we will be in production 12 months from then.”