The Arrowsmith Central silica sand project in Western Australia owned by VRX Silica (ASX: VRX) has moved to the public environmental review (PER) stage of development.
The review will take place over a four-week period and be managed by the state’s environmental authority.
VRX is preparing a scoping document which details the environmental studies required to inform assessment of the project.
These include flora and fauna work, a dieback assessment, surface water and hydrology studies, cultural and heritage assessment, greenhouse gas estimate, and a high-level air quality assessment.
The studies have commenced and will be finalised prior to the end of the review period.
The scoping document is considered a fundamental step in the regulator’s administration procedures to inform the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of Arrowsmith Central.
VRX said it is confident the project has addressed the environmental principles, factors and objectives of the guidelines for assessment.
Other government agencies will be restricted from approving matters related to the full development of the project until the PER process has been completed.
This instruction is not expected to impact on the company’s development plans.
VRX managing director Bruce Maluish said the PER stage is a milestone achievement for Arrowsmith Central.
“This is yet another significant step in the development of our second silica sand project [in Western Australia] and we will progress the application as expeditiously as possible,” he said.
“While we are not in a position to set a definitive timeline for the approvals process, we are confident that our work on seeking approval for the nearby Arrowsmith North project will greatly assist in this application.”
The location of Arrowsmith Central was selected to avoid environmentally-sensitive areas, taking into account roosting and nesting requirements of the native Carnaby Cockatoo species.
VRX’s unique vegetation direct transfer (VDT) method has been developed to provide rapid and comprehensive regeneration of mined areas based on continuous rehabilitation as mining progresses.
It is a made-for-purpose mining method which will remove and replace sods of up to 400 millimetres in depth with topsoil in a mined area, keeping the majority of native flora and invertebrate fauna intact.
The root structures at VRX mining areas are loose sand and considered to be relatively shallow at between 200mm and 300mm depth, making them ideally suited for the VDT system.
The method is believed to provide the best rehabilitation outcome for recalcitrant sedges and grass species.