- VRX Silica Limited (ASX:VRX) is exploring the potential for the development of glass-manufacturing facilities in Australia.
- The Company’s projects have substantial Mineral Resources that comprise high-grade silica sand suitable for manufacturing glass.
- VRX Silica’s Muchea project is suitable for solar panel-quality glass.
VRX Silica Limited (ASX:VRX) owns high-grade silica sand projects in Western Australia, including the Arrowsmith Silica Sand Project, located 270km north of Perth, and the Muchea Silica Sand Project, situated 50km north of Perth. Both locations have substantial Mineral Resources that comprise high-grade silica sand suitable to manufacture glass, with Muchea particularly suitable for solar panel glass.
As per VRX Silica, the superior quality and substantial volumes of silica sand at Muchea and Arrowsmith projects lend themselves to the possibility for developing nearby glass-manufacturing facilities. This potential has attracted the interest of international glass manufacturers and the Western Australian Government and could potentially deliver billions of dollars in foreign investment into the State.
Exploring potential for glass manufacturing
The glass manufacturing industry demand is rising at a rate of 5-6 per cent per year, or around 8-10 million tonnes per annum. Moreover, about 47 per cent of the world’s glass is made in Asia. VRX Silica intends to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity in the glass manufacturing industry.
It is worth noting that glass manufacturing requires considerable energy inputs. The Company is exploring the potential for the supply of renewable hydrogen to power glass manufacturing facilities in Western Australia to produce net-zero glass.
Towards this end, the Company signed a non-binding MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Xodus Group Pty Ltd in March 2022. The MOU contemplates the sharing of information with the aim of a future offtake of between 9,000 and 11,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year, which seems adequate to supply a significant glass-making facility.
Notably, the Mid West is increasingly being recognised for its potential to become a major hub to supply renewable energy and the production of hydrogen for both export and local consumption. Moreover, significant Research & Development is underway in Europe to include renewable power and substitute natural gas with hydrogen in glass-making furnaces.
Well-positioned Muchea Project
VRX Silica believes it is the right time, and Muchea is the right place for Western Australia to maximise its economic advantages of a very long-life high-quality silica sand supply and Western Australia’s domestic gas reserves, together with rapidly advancing hydrogen projects in the Mid-West, for a high-tech ultra-clear glass production capability at the Muchea project.
The Company is also targeting the fast-developing Australian solar panel market via the high-grade Muchea project. With better grain quality and size, the silica sand from Muchea Project is considered suitable for the ultra-clear glass used in solar panels.
Related Article: VRX Silica tapping solar panel market via high-grade Muchea project
Meanwhile, the demand for solar panels is expected to increase over the coming years. To meet 2050 greenhouse gas targets, the world needs over 400GW of solar installation per annum. In fact, Australia has the highest per capita solar capacity at 600W per capita, and solar power accounted for about 9.9 per cent of the country’s total energy production in 2020.
Interestingly, VRX Silica is making considerable progress in attracting foreign and local investment into the development of world-class glass manufacturing and downstream processing industries in Western Australia. The Company aims to lead a staggered and disciplined development of its high-grade assets, commencing production from the Arrowsmith North Silica Sand Project.
VRX Silica shares are trading at A$0.16 as of 1:33 PM AEST.