An ongoing review of historical data for Eclipse Metals’ (ASX: EPM) recently acquired Ivittuut cryolite mine in Greenland has indicated the presence of high silica grade quartz mineralisation beneath the open pit.
The company announced its 100% acquisition of the mothballed mine in January and has engaged North Atlantic Mining Consultants to independently evaluate definitive historical exploration and analytical data for the Ivittuut open pit.
To date, Eclipse executive chairman Carl Popal said the review has unveiled “massive economic potential” for the project, which is not only the world’s only known commercial cryolite mine but also has the potential for multi-commodity deposits of fluorite, zinc, iron, high grade quartz and highly sought-after rare earth elements (REE).
High-grade quartz zone delineated by 3D modelling
This high silica grade quartz zone has been delineated using 3D modelling based on historical diamond drilling. A total of 18 holes intersected the body of the quartz zone, though only two holes were analysed for quartz purity in 2012.
Based on data from the two holes, 44% of the 54 samples provided graded higher than 98% silica.
Averaged drill intersections include: 54m at 97.6% silicon dioxide from 32m, including 3m intervals of high-grade mineralisation at 32m (99.6%), 59m (99.33%), 80m (99.98%) and 86m (99.94%); and 53m at 94.8% silicon dioxide from 45m, including 3m intercepts at 66m (99.72%), 81m (99.13%) and 89m (99.02%).
According to Eclipse, the quartz zone forms a flat, roughly circular, intrusive body about 220m in diameter with a true thickness of about 90m.
Significant exploration targets defined
The company has now defined a significant exploration target for the quartz mineralised domain of between 5.7-5.94 million tonnes at a quartz grade of 90-95%.
This is in addition to an exploration target for cryolite-fluorite-iron-zinc of 795,000-830,000t at a quartz grade of between 60-90%.
“The global exploration target domains have delineated extensive tonnages and grades across all the commodities with REE exploration yet to be conducted,” Mr Popal said.
Eclipse’s planned future work includes the estimation of a JORC compliant resource for the Ivittuut project “at the earliest opportunity” (subject to COVID-19 restrictions).
As part of this work, numerous drill holes hosting quartz mineralisation will be systematically split and analysed for contaminants to enable calculation of silica content.
“Eclipse Metals is now well positioned to deliver increasing value for our shareholders by being able to achieve cost-effective results from assay of 19,000m of drill core from the project area currently in storage,” Mr Popal said.
Projected growth in the global quartz market
According to research, the global quartz market is forecast to reach $13.61 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9% from 2020 to 2030.
The European market for quartz exceeds 30Mt per year (including more than 15Mt per year for glass production), which is sourced through domestic production, especially in the Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Bulgaria and Belgium.
A constantly growing glass industry in Europe demands increasing amounts of appropriate raw materials with glass silica being the most important one.
According to the company, this potential source of high-grade quartz identified beneath the Ivittuut pit could be treated in Iceland, where “cheap power is available for refining in order to supply products used in high growth markets including solar, semiconductors, optics, lighting, telecommunications and microelectronics”.
Mr Popal has called the Ivittuut project a “unique opportunity to contribute to the growing demand for high-grade silica in the European market”.