If you believe that there is plenty of sand in the world, you perhaps need to rethink. Here is some food for thought- the world is running out of sand!
With the dominance of sand mafias and vanishing islands, sand that was once considered to be an infinite resource is on the verge of scarcity, posing serious global concerns while inviting environmental and political upheaval.
Besides supply side constraints, we need to be wary of the demand trends too. The industrial demand for silica sand is rising at 5% per year (Source: IMARC Group information & forecast) driven by industrial uses, urbanisation of the developing world, higher grade requirements from high-tech manufacturing and the global legislative shift against single use repackaging. This soared demand is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.
On this note, let us acquaint you with a Western Australia-based silica sands explorer- Perpetual Resources Limited (ASX:PEC).
PEC Facilitating Global High-Grade Silica Availability
A dedicated silica sands explorer, PEC aims to produce high purity sand for both national and international markets. The Company was listed on the ASX in 2013 and has entered a new and exciting phase of its growth cycle, diving into the lucrative silica sands market.
The Company appraised various potential project opportunities across a wide range of commodities, and chose to focus on silica sand, regarding it as a structurally attractive commodity.
Why Did PEC Prefer a Silica Sands Portfolio?
Extensive industrial uses and soaring demand in silica sand-consuming sectors pave the path for ample opportunities.
Silica sand is environmentally sustainable, recyclable and enjoys industrial and consumer applications. Specifically, the glass making, foundry, consumer packaging, LCD screens, chemicals, filters, extenders, building materials and export sectors have been demonstrating their dependency on this valuable resource.
The silica sand markets are bigger today than the lithium markets probably ever will be. Currently, the global silica sands market is worth $9bn.
In 2017, Australia was the largest exporter of silica and quartz sands with annual value of US$105 million and continues to offer ample high-purity opportunities with primary proximity to key exports market to Asia.
The global glass industry is the largest and amongst the highest growth silica sands markets, and PEC has special interest in this area. Moreover, as China’s glass production increases, it’s demand for higher quality silica sand imports is bound to soar further. Undeniably, China represents a huge potential addressable market for the Company.
PEC’s Attractive Project Portfolio
The Company’s flagship Beharra Project is a highly attractive project located in the tier 1 location of WA, few hours from the sealed road to Perth and in fortunate proximity to essential infrastructure enabling the possibility to tap the high growth Asian markets.
A viable project, Beharra has the potential for direct shipping ore product and simple gravity beneficiation to produce an upgraded product.
Other Project areas prospective for high purity silica sand and construction sand products include-
Eneabba & Eneabba North
- Prospective for both high purity silica sands and construction sand
- Planned scout & Auger drilling of high purity silica sand targets, along with Domestic Construction sand supply analysis and Transport & Logistics study in 2H CY20
- Strategically located adjacent to Brand Highway and 45km via road to Geraldton where priority high purity silica sand target has been identified
- Transport & Logistics along with Auger drilling to define sand specifications planned in 2H CY20
Beharra Project- Grade and Processing
Previous investigation at Beharra suggested sand depth of over 20m, along with evidence of both yellow and white sands with dominance of white in the southern part of the tenement covering vacant crown land.
PEC commenced exploration activities at Beharra immediately after acquiring full ownership over the project. Affirmed that Beharra could host a high-grade silica sand formation via desktop mapping exercises, the Auger program and the preliminary metallurgical studies were completed demonstrating encouraging results.
Exploration by PEC at the southern end has confirmed contiguous dominantly (over 85%) white sand to a minimum depth of 10m over an area of close to 700 hectares. On the other side, white sands are typically high grade, more than 99% silica dioxide.
Once grades seemed promising, the Company conducted metallurgical test work on shallow auger samples that confirmed white sand silica grade was more than 99% SiO2 and contained close to 0.1% Fe2O3.
The lab beneficiation produced a concentrate that resulted in upgrading the SiO2 to 99.8% and reduced Fe2O3 content to 0.03%.
Additional treatment of the concentrate with acid and calcination produced a very pure “four nines” silica product and further decreased iron oxide level to 0.01%.
Beharra Beneficiation Test Work
Initial mineralogical examination of beneficiated Beharra sand concentrate confirms geochemistry results at the project are very clean and with only minor slimes evident. The non-magnetic, -1 +0.075mm product is “clean” and probably contains >99% quartz.
The exceptional high purity silica results achieved via the Beharra sand test work demonstrate the Company’s to target a broad range of high value product markets. The testwork is based on a single 178kg bulk composite sample of the material extracted from 9 auger drill holes samples from depth intervals of 0.5-2m-
- Initial leaching and calcination testwork on Beharra sand reported up to 99.94% SiO2 (99.992% SiO2+LOI)
- There was further reduction of iron, aluminium and titanium
Beharra Developments to Continue in the Coming Months
Recently, PEC entered into an agreement with integrated logistics solution provider Qube Bulk Pty Ltd to evaluate options and undertake the logistics services for a “project to end user” transport and materials handling solution pertaining to Beharra.
After the successful maiden resource drilling, samples will be submitted for analysis upon completion of drill hole logging, with drill results expected by the middle of May. The resource estimation is expected to commence by June end. Later, further metallurgical beneficiation testing is likely to be undertaken.
Definition of a maiden JORC resource is also in pipeline for June 2020, subject to successful laboratory results.
Further, bulk samples for beneficiation studies, optimisation of both physical separation methods and leaching test work, size fraction analysis for product marketing purposes, commencement of maiden PFS and initial product marketing & off take discussions will be undertaken to develop Beharra.
Besides, Mining Lease Application is expected to be submitted by the year end.
PEC’s attractive project portfolio seems to have a robust outlook and the flagship asset, Beharra is progressing well. The Company appears to be on the right trajectory to produce high-grade silica for the international and domestic markets.
PEC last traded at $0.027 on 20 April 2020.