The BFS, which outlines an ungeared NPV10 of $338 million based on 25 years of a potential mine life of 100-plus years, indicates that Muchea is capable of producing very high-grade silica sand products.
“Most impressive” of three
Managing director Bruce Maluish said the outstanding BFS demonstrated the potential for Muchea to be a world-class high-grade silica sand deposit.
As such, he said, it was the most impressive of the three bankable feasibility studies completed for the company’s silica sand projects north of Perth with the project also set to benefit from the rail connection to Kwinana port for export.
The study incorporates a maiden probable ore reserve of 18.7 million tonnes at 99.9% SiO2 with 14.6 million tonnes at 99.9% SiO2 in the Mining Lease application area.
Key BFS outcomes.
Three high-grade products
Three high-grade high-value silica sand products have been identified, all of which are in high demand in international markets.
Shares have been up almost 22% in early trade to 17 cents, up from 11.5 cents in mid-August.
Maluish said: “This reserve estimate is only a small portion of the silica sand inferred resource estimate for the project but produces a very high-grade product which is in high demand in specialist Asian markets.
“We have already had significant interest in the Muchea product that will command higher prices than products from our Arrowsmith North and Central silica sand projects.”
High-quality silica sand
Tests on the final product from Muchea demonstrate plus-99.9% SiO2 and less than 100ppm Fe2O3.
Quality such as this was very important for specialist glassmakers, the MD said, including those manufacturing the increasingly significant solar panel glass.
This BFS is based on only 25 years of production from a project that potentially has a 100-plus year mine life.
The maiden probable 14.6-million-tonne reserve contained within the company’s Mining Lease application will support a 9-10-year project.
This is estimated from the indicated mineral resource only and constitutes around 39% of the estimated total production target, in terms of processed tonnes of silica sand, over the 25-year mine life.
New long-term industry
VRX Silica intends to mine solely from probable reserves during the initial 9-10 years of the project.
The balance is from inferred mineral resource in the proposed mining area which is 61.4 million tonnes at 99.6% SiO2, which the company intends to mine from year 10 onwards.
The Muchea project is 50 kilometres north of Perth.
Muchea will be a potentially new long-term industry for Western Australia with substantial economic benefits, including long-term employment and royalties with a significant economic contribution to the Muchea-Gingin district.
Maluish said, “Muchea is a world-class high-grade silica sand project which can support a substantial export industry for WA providing benefits to the State and the Muchea-Gingin district.
“Muchea will produce alternative high-grade products to Arrowsmith and will add to our available catalogue of products from our silica sand projects.”
Silica sand markets
Globally, silica sand is in a growth phase due to increasing demand from the construction sector, with both volume and value having increased worldwide.
Sales of silica sand experienced a compound annual growth rate of about 8.7% in value terms from 2009 to 2016, with a market value of US$6.3 billion.
This was due to its applications across a range of industries, including glassmaking as well as foundry casting, water filtration, chemicals and metals, along with the hydraulic fracturing process.
Accelerations in construction spending and manufacturing output worldwide are expected to drive growth in important silica sand-consuming industries, including the glass, foundry and building glass products sectors.
Significant growth is projected in the hydraulic fracturing market as horizontal drilling for shale oil and gas resources expands, largely in North America.
The Asia-Pacific region is expected to remain the largest regional consumer of industrial sand through 2025, supported by the dominant Chinese market.
The country’s container glass industry will drive further silica sand sales, supported by rising production of glass bottles, particularly in the alcoholic beverage sector including wine and beer.