Positive tests on bulk samples taken from Ventnor Resources’ (ASX: VRX) Arrowsmith and Muchea silica sand projects near Perth have confirmed the projects are able to produce high-quality sand sought after by Asia’s glassmaking and automobile industries.
Earlier this year, the company collected 300kg samples from each of its four granted tenements across Arrowsmith and Muchea for bulk metallurgical testwork, fuelled by initial positive laboratory-scale tests at Nagrom in Perth on much smaller samples.
The bulk samples were sent to CDE Global’s testwork facility in Northern Ireland to gain a better understanding of silica sand characteristics when subjected to standard processing techniques.
Early-stage tests highlighted the potential for further improvements by utilising specialist processing equipment in the attritioning and magnetic separation steps.
A refined flow sheet
Last month, Ventnor said the results had been “very encouraging”, achieving the desired glassmaking standard of 99.5% silicon dioxide.
CDE will conduct a further iteration of testwork using a refined flow sheet to incorporate additional attritioning with a view to further improving the quality of the potential final products for Muchea, Arrowsmith North and Arrowsmith Central (both part of the Arrowsmith project).
Results are expected in the December quarter, after which process circuit design and engineering will follow, allowing for capital cost estimates to be generated before the end of 2018.
“These results confirm our expectations for glassmaking quality sand at Arrowsmith and higher-quality sand at Muchea,” said managing director Bruce Maluish.
“They also justify a further iteration of testwork to investigate the potential for even higher-grade and higher-value products.”
Mr Maluish said Ventnor will send silica sand samples to prospective customers in India, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, China and Korea for additional testing, with results expected next month.
Meanwhile, the company reports that sufficient drilling has now been undertaken to allow work to commence on mineral resource estimates for both projects.
An estimate for Arrowsmith North will be completed this month, while Muchea is due for completion by year end.
The high-quality silica sand identified at Arrowsmith and Muchea is used in a range of glassmaking applications.
According to company research, Asia currently accounts for 47% of global silica sand demand for glassmaking, with the market advancing by approximately 6% per year.
Demand is also increasing for high-purity silica sand as used in the production of photovoltaic panels, and as a silicon-metal composite material for high-capacity lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.
Ventnor said it had already received a number of enquiries for its product from potential Asian customers.
Directors up the stakes
Directors of Ventnor yesterday revealed they had each boosted their stake in the company as part of a recent capital raising.
Mr Maluish increased his indirect and direct holding to 12.3 million shares through the purchase of one million ordinary fully paid shares for $60,000.
Non-executive chairman Paul Boyatzis purchased 450,000 shares for $27,000, taking his holding to 2.9 million shares.
And non-executive director Peter Pawlowitsch bought another 2 million shares for $120,000 to up his stake to 21.5 million shares.
The share purchases were part of a raising to fund Ventnor’s exploration and acquisition activities.
At mid-afternoon trade, shares in Ventnor Resources were up 26.76% to $0.090.