JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) - Prospects for a new silica sand mine in North Queensland have received a boost, with ASX-listed Diatreme Resources announcing that results from initial metallurgical testwork show that the project is capable of producing high-quality glass-grade silica sand.
Six bulk samples were wet tabled to stimulate conventional washing and gravity separation, with about 80% recovery of a primary silica sand product ranging between 99.6% and 99.9% silicon dioxide with less than 0.02% ferric oxide.
This "easily" meets the specifications for glass-grade silica sand, the company said in a statement on Friday.
Cape Bedford, which is situated near the world's largest silica sands mine, is favourably positioned to access growing markets for silica sand in Asia. The silica sand market, the company added, is seen reaching nearly $10-billion in revenues by 2022, amid growth from both developed and emerging markets.
"Cape Bedford's potential as a supplier of high-quality silica sand has been reaffirmed by these latest results, with the prospects of generating valuable new jobs for the region and becoming a profitable near-term mining operation as an important part of our mineral sands portfolio," said Diatreme CEO Neil McIntyre.
He added that the company is determined to further test its potential as quickly as possible through additional drilling, based on support from the traditional owners and regulatory approvals, as the company works to unlock value for shareholders.
Meanwhile, the company intends to carry out regional reconnaissance drilling over accessible areas of the exploration permit (EPM) during this year. The proposed exploration will be subject to appropriate approvals being obtained from Hopevale Congress in order to proceed with the exploration activity.
The company has identified numerous areas of interest for both silica and mineral sands exploration and will work with the Hopevale Congress and government departments to gain any necessary approvals for the exploration programme to be further expanded, the company noted.
However, McIntyre further notes that Cape Bedford could prove a highly valuable addition to the company's project pipeline as it progresses its exploration activities.
"Our flagship zircon project in Western Australia remains our primary focus and is currently progressing through final definitive feasibility studies towards mine establishment. Recent industry forecasts point to an improving pricing environment for mineral sands and, amid constrained supply, our projects are perfectly placed to capitalise for shareholders' benefit," he added.