Prieska copper reports excellent progress with early works activities

MELBOURNE, Australia – Orion Minerals in its December 2020 Quarterly Activities Report reports continued positive progress with funding discussions for the Prieska Copper-Zinc Project, Northern Cape, South Africa as prices for both copper and zinc move to multi-year highs.

Other highlights include:

  • Early Works activities advance with EPCM contract bids short-listed.
  • Significant zones of copper, zinc and nickel-copper-PGE mineralisation intersected across all key prospects tested as part of high-impact near-mine and regional drilling program.
  • Results confirm the under-explored nature of the Areachap Province and the substantial opportunity for a major discovery. A key focus will be an emerging VMS copper system at Boksputs, 125km north-west of Prieska.
  • Orion Minerals received the inaugural Emerging ESG Leader Award at the AAMEG Africa Awards, a prestigious industry award recognising its pioneering ESG work at Prieska.
  • Preparations continued for drilling on key nickel-copper targets at the IGO JV in the Fraser Range.

Orion’s Managing Director and CEO, Errol Smart, said: “Our flagship Prieska Copper-Zinc Project is one of the few large-scale, fully-permitted, advanced base metal assets globally with a realistic chance of coming on stream in the next 2-3 years and capitalising on the buoyant conditions in base metal markets. Both copper and zinc recently hit multi-year highs amid a generally positive investment outlook for the commodities sector. Copper recently passed through US$8,000/t driven by supply side tightness and growing demand fuelled by economic stimulus and soaring investment in green energy infrastructure.

“Against this backdrop, we continued to make excellent progress with Early Works activities at Prieska and funding discussions with numerous Tier-1 groups, financiers and institutions – both in South Africa and globally. Given the current environment, we are optimistic about achieving a positive outcome which will see Prieska fully-funded and construction and development commencing this year.


Both copper and zinc prices continued to perform strongly during the December Quarter, with the LME cash copper price hitting its highest level since March 2013, closing at US$7,742/t on 4 December 2020.

Since the start of 2021, the copper price moved to a new 8-year high of over US$8,000/t.

Respected commodities forecaster, Roskill, notes that copper has charted an unlikely trajectory through 2020, dropping to a low of US$4,617/t in late March as the global impact of COVID-19 became apparent, before stabilising and then completing a full recovery – reaching its January starting point by the end of July. Aided by the depreciation of the dollar after the US election, copper prices surged from October onwards rallying 68% in the eight months from its March low, making it the most resilient of the LME base metals.

Similarly, following a brief pullback in prices in the September Quarter, zinc also climbed in the December Quarter, with tightening short-term supply paired with strong demand from China pushing prices higher.

Zinc prices started the quarter trading at US$2,365/t and hit their highest point year-to-date on December 16 at US$2,818/t.

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