Orion’s Prieska Project a litmus test for South Africa’s mining revival, says Forbes

8th February 2019
Resources Rising Stars

An old copper and zinc mine in the remote Northern Cape Province of South Africa is emerging as a litmus test for an industry and government effort to revive the country's once-great mining industry (reports international business website Forbes).

Forbes reported that the planned redevelopment of the Prieska mine was beginning to attract international attention in the lead-up to the annual Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town.

“The world's mining leaders will flock to Cape Town in South Africa this week but it's a small project in the Northern Cape Province where the future of the country's industry is being re-shaped,” Forbes said.

Forbes said a series of site visits to Prieska hosted by Orion Minerals during the week became one of the Conference’s hot tickets “not because there's anything special about the mine or what it produced, more because of its history and potential future”.

Orion, which is listed on both the Johannesburg and Australian Stock Exchanges, is on the cusp of delivering a Bankable Feasibility Study on the Prieska project, and plans to restart production in 2021.

The project will yield both copper and zinc concentrate from an underground mining operation which will utilise an existing 1,000m deep shaft that was developed as part of the original operation.

“But what's very different with the re-birth of the old mine is that it's occurring in a new South Africa, using new and highly mechanized technology rather than the labour-intensive methods of the past which saw tens of thousands of workers in a single mine, often with deadly results,” Forbes said.

“If the Prieska experiment works, and it does have strong government support, it could blaze a trail for other mine developers who have shied away from South Africa because of its high-risk profile and difficult labour relations.”


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