Australian exploration company Orion Minerals has discovered a new copper-zinc bearing massive sulphide body close to its Prieska Zinc-Copper project in the Areachap Belt of Northern Cape in South Africa.
The exploration diamond drill-hole (OAXD002) that resulted in the discovery was drilled at Orion Minerals’ Ayoba prospect, a satellite exploration target. The hole was drilled as part of the company’s near-mine exploration project and was the first hole to test for new mineralisation surrounding the historical Prieska mine in more than 36 years.
Diamond drill-hole OAXD002 intersected 10.55m of sulphide mineralisation, including 5.17m of massive sulphides (>70% sulphides) from a down-hole depth of 653.2m. The discovery was made by drill testing a Fixed Loop Electro Magnetic (FLEM) conductor located 5.3km south-southwest of the Orion’s Hutchings Shaft at the Prieska project.
The modelled conductor has a strike length of 1.1km and extends down-dip to at least 800m below surface. The vertical depth to the top of the conductor is 500m.
The identification of copper (chalcopyrite) and zinc (sphalerite) associated with the massive sulphide mineralisation, and with host lithology similar to that at the Prieska deposit, suggests the discovery of a Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide (VMS) deposit.
According to Errol Smart, managing director and CEO at Orion, VMS deposits tend to occur in clusters and yet there has been virtually no exploration outside of the known deposits at Prieska in several decades.
“This intersection is the first new VMS discovery in the Areachap Belt for the past 36 years. This important discovery demonstrates the huge potential to find additional deposits within a five to 10km radius of the proposed processing plant and mine infrastructure at Prieska, validating our exploration strategy which is aimed at unlocking the value of this rich mineral province. It also demonstrates the advantage of using modern geophysical exploration techniques in such a well mineralised VMS terrain and is the deepest ‘blind deposit’ ever discovered in the Areachap,” says Smart.