Orion Shareholders Begin To See Light As Brownfields South African Base Metals Project Takes Shape

By Tim Treadgold | More Articles by Tim Treadgold

The annual migration of the mining industry to the seaside delights of Cape Town and associated talkfests such as the Mining Indaba conference was trumped this week by the return of iron ore as a hot commodity.

But in South Africa there were hints of something equally interesting as an Australian base- metal stock started to get the recognition it deserves.
Orion Minerals has been beavering away for several years with a brownfield zinc and copper project in the remote Northern Cape Province, earning scant reward on the stock market for its patient shareholders – until now.

While still a minnow in a country best known for its big miners, Orion has staged a handy share-price recovery as it shakes off the debilitating effects of a stock overhang from a capital raising and acceptance that it might be a trail blazer for a new area of South African mining.

A closer look at Orion in this week’s diary is a worthwhile exercise because one company, which is listed on the Australian and Johannesburg stock exchanges, is a case study of South African mining and the drive to kick-start a small mining company culture in a country which has never had one.

Over the past five trading days, Orion’s share price has risen by around 30%, up from 2.2c to 3c as investors develop an understanding of what the company is doing at the Prieska mine, a project once rated as world-class but closed in 1991 after 20 years of profitable operation — and not because the ore had run out, a lot was left behind.

A factor in Prieska closing early was the challenge of doing business in the old South Africa, a time when it was cut-off from the rest of the world in multiple ways, including access to international capital, whereas it’s the promise of the new South Africa which is playing a role in Prieska’s planned redevelopment. Read more +