Photo: ITC Loader and paired Paus bi-directional haul trucks to be used in the trial mining.

Orion Minerals Ltd. has awarded a 6-month trial mining contract to P2 Mining (Pty.) Ltd., a subsidiary of South African mining contractor Newrak Mining Group to undertake the early works trial underground mining program at the Prieska copper-zinc mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.

The trial mining will target the +105 Level Crown Pillar, using conventional and alternative underground mining methods. The trial mining will comprise 120m of footwall ramp development, before accessing the high-grade supergene ore of the +105 block with ore development along strike for 150 m on either side of the primary access as the primary in a cut-and-fill mining cycle.

In addition, the Newrak contract also covers the opening of the 143 Level historical stope draw-points for selective loading and hauling to surface of broken ore remaining in the stopes to perform bulk sampling and metallurgical trials on the material. If successful, this exercise will continue to build a stockpile on surface for future processing once the concentrator plant is commissioned.

Part of the trial mining contract with Newrak is to test an ITC120 continuous loader and two 20-mt bi-directional trucks in the underground development cycle. This machine trial is being undertaken at Orion’s request with equipment secured from Germany.

The ITC120 loader shows great promise in delivering improved cycle times and development rates compared to conventional mechanized rock loading and hauling methods. It is envisaged that these improvements can deliver a significant positive impact on both the +105 and the Prieska Deeps mining once dewatering has been completed.

The ITC120 continuous loader and the Paus 20-mt dump trucks are supplied via Hurst Mine Tec, the newly established local representative for Swiss group ITC. Hurst is introducing the European tunneling technology into South Africa for the first time and will support the imported equipment locally.