Recent lab analysis of quartz bulk samples from historic mine dumps at Eclipse Metals’ (ASX: EPM) Ivittuut multi-commodity project in southwest Greenland has confirmed high silica, low impurity characteristics.
The analysis determined the quartz can be further purified with a simple acid wash process to substantially increase its grade by removing impurities, potentially making it suitable for the high-tech semi-conductor industry.
Modelling of historical exploration data from the deposit indicated the presence of a large cylindrical body of in-situ high silica grade/low impurity quartz immediately below the pit floor.
The modelling — which supports an estimated exploration target of between 5.70 million tonnes and 5.94Mt of quartz ranging between 90% and 95% silica — confirms the company’s view of the significant economic potential in exploiting the quartz body.
Eclipse executive chairman Carl Popal said the findings have further increased the value of the mine’s re-development.
“Our evaluation of historical data has unveiled massive economic potential at Ivittuut, being the world’s only known commercial mine of naturally-occurring cryolite but with potential to be a multi-commodity project,” he said.
“The identification of scarce heavy rare earth elements, rare critical metals and high purity quartz has cemented our conclusion on the uniqueness of the polymetallic nature of the Ivittuut pit precinct.”
Eclipse is planning further exploration activities to enable the calculation of a resource estimate later this year.
“Further analytical work is required for the quartz zones as previous explorers did not assay all intersections for contaminants,” Mr Popal said.
“Numerous drill holes which intersected quartz mineralisation will be systematically split and analysed for contaminants to enable calculation of silica content for our resource estimation work [and] additional drilling may be required based on further evaluation of historical exploration.”
High quality quartz is composed of silica which is characterised as having minimum 95% silicon dioxide and less than 0.01% impurities.
Quartz with higher contaminant levels is in demand by many industries.
Silica of varying qualities is used in glass production; for ingredients in ceramics; as fillers and extenders in polymers, paints and rubber; for water filtration; and for casting moulds in foundries.
Quartz can also be the starting point for the manufacture of water-soluble sodium silicates and other downstream silicon chemicals.
In 2018, the global quartz market was valued at $8.23 billion and is projected to reach $13.61 billion by 2026, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9% from 2020 to 2030.
The European market for quartz exceeds 30 million tonnes per year, of which more than 15Mt is used for glass production.
These volumes are sourced through domestic production from the Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Poland, the UK, Spain, Bulgaria and Belgium.
Quartz resources for high-quality silica production are limited to the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Poland and Chechnya.