Orion Minerals (ASX:ORN) will start mining at its flagship Prieska copper-zinc project in South Africa, subject to a final investment decision, after the South African Department of Minerals Resources and Energy granted it a mining right.

Shares in the company rose 10 per cent on the news, which comes less than two months after the environmental authorisation grant and three months after the release of a positive bankable feasibility study.

Orion will now advance project financing discussions and implementation planning before concluding agreements with concentrate off-take partners and key suppliers.

“Our strategy to deliver a substantial new base metals mine at Prieska is rapidly gaining momentum and the award of this permit is testament to the support of the South African authorities for new investment in a modernised mining sector,” CEO Errol Smart said.

“The Prieska project represents a valuable strategic asset in the global base metals sector, being one of the few permitted mid-tier base metal development assets well positioned to move into development and production.

“Our timing with this project could not be better – demand for copper is expected to soar over the next decade on the back of transformational growth in the electric vehicle and green energy sectors.”

Earlier in August Johannesburg-based broker Vunani Securities described the project as a “rare investment opportunity”.

In other ASX base metals news today:

Apollo Minerals (ASX:AON) secures earn-in agreement. The agreement, with Trek Metals (ASX:TKM), will see Apollo earn an interest of up to 80 per cent in the Kroussou zinc-lead project in western Gabon. However, Apollo shares fell 10 per cent to 2.7c on the news.

Ardea Resources (ASX:ARL) commences surveying. The company told investors this morning geophysical surveys had commenced at its fully-owned Perrinvale nickel-copper sulphide project 80km west of Leonora in the Eastern Goldfields Province of Western Australia.

Panoramic Resources (ASX:PAN) hits hurdles. Panoramic has downgraded its production forecasts thanks to lower production in July and August. Nickel is expected to be within 9,500 and 10,000 tonnes, copper between 5,800 and 6,000t and cobalt between 600 and 650t.