Prieska Copper Zinc Mine Pty Ltd has been granted a 20-year water use license by the National Department of Water and Sanitation, marking the achievement of another key permitting milestone for its development-ready Prieska Copper-Zinc Project in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.

“The grant of [the water license] removes the largest remaining regulatory hurdle before the construction of the mine can commence,” said Errol Smart, managing director and CEO for Orion Minerals, which owns Prieska. “Many of the banks and potential strategic partners that we have been dealing with have flagged the outstanding license as a major concern that could potentially hold up an investment decision.”

The license grants permission for mine de-watering to proceed, as well as wet tailings and wastewater storage and management and the use of water for mixing with mine waste for void back-filling. It also has provisions for further improvements to how water pumped out of the mine is disposed of, allowing the prospect of artificial recharge into groundwater aquifers to be considered, as well as maximizing the re-use of the discharged water by farmers in the surrounding area.