Emerging mineral sands producer Diatreme Resources (ASX: DRX) has notched up a major win for its Galalar silica project in north Queensland, with results from recent bulk sample tests demonstrating the project’s ability to produce a premium-grade product.
Conducted at an industry-recognised silica testing facility in China, the tests analysed 350 kilograms of untreated raw samples extracted from 19 drill holes across the Galalar project area.
The results confirmed Galalar could produce a high-purity silica sand with grain sizes within 125-600 microns and an iron content of less than 100 parts per million, making it suitable for the exacting specifications of high-end processing.
Low-iron level silica is currently in high demand by glass manufacturers as it provides the transparency required for products such as high-efficiency photovoltaic (solar) panels, ultra‐clear glass, and electrical and electronic-grade silicon micro powder.
There are also limited producers of significant volumes worldwide, which means the product often attracts premium prices.
Sample testing also showed the potential to obtain secondary, high‐value heavy mineral sands by product streams during mining, adding to Galalar’s overall value.
Maiden mineral resource
Today’s results follow the recent release of a maiden inferred mineral resource at Galalar, comprising an estimated 21.6 million tonnes at 99% purity silica, as well as results from earlier bulk sample process test work which confirmed the project can produce high‐quality sand at 99.9% silicon dioxide.
All data will be incorporated into the resource definition and mine development planning process currently underway, with Diatreme targeting an increased mineral resource estimate later this quarter.
Mining at Galalar is expected to be a “relatively simple” operation, targeting an initial annual production of approximately 300,000-500,000 tonnes of high‐grade silica product.
The company said the exact nature of the mine development is subject to further commercial studies, discussions with potential customers and regulatory approvals.
Once in production, the Galalar project will contribute to the global silica sand market which is estimated to reach nearly US$10 billion in annual revenues by 2022, with a compound annual average growth rate of 7.2%.
The Galalar project was launched in December, after HopeVale Congress Aboriginal Corporation agreed to a name change from the previous Nob Point prospect.
Diatreme said the move “reflects the backing of the traditional owners” and its desire for “maximum local economic benefit” when the mine is operational.
Galalar forms part of Diatreme’s Cape Bedford silica and heavy minerals project located 200km north of Cairns and near the world’s largest operating silica sand mine at Cape Flattery.
At midday, shares in Diatreme Resources were trading 15.38% higher at $0.015.