- VRX Silica Limited (ASX:VRX) has made a formal submission of its referral to the EPA for environmental approval for the Arrowsmith North project.
- The Company’s Arrowsmith North project will be developed via a unique and progressive mining and rehabilitation method.
- VRX Silica plans to deliver the project with minimal environmental impact and a low carbon footprint.
Shares of VRX Silica Limited (ASX:VRX) are trading ~8.2 per cent higher mid-day at A$0.330 following the release of a significant update on the environmental approval process for the Arrowsmith North project.
The silica sand explorer has announced the formal submission of its referral to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for environmental approval for Arrowsmith North. It represents a significant milestone for the development of the Company’s Arrowsmith North project.
The referral has been submitted under Section 38 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986. Moreover, the referral is the culmination of extensive environmental studies conducted by and for VRX Silica over the last three years and broad pre-referral consultation with the EPA.
The Company further informed that the EPA’s environmental impact evaluation will be undertaken as an accredited assessment which will ensure that it also reviews the proposal on behalf of the Federal Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.
Mining and Rehabilitation Method
VRX Silica has developed an exclusive and progressive mining and rehabilitation method to minimise the environmental impact of its activities, particularly for Arrowsmith North and the other silica sand projects.
The Company’s Vegetation Direct Transfer (VDT) method is suitable for rapid and extensive regeneration of impacted areas contingent on progressive rehabilitation as silica sand mining advances.
At Arrowsmith North, the root structures in the loose sand are comparatively shallow at 200-300mm in depth. The VDT method cleans off a 400mm deep sod, preserving the topsoil encompassing most of the native flora and invertebrate fauna, besides keeping near-surface humus & its microbial contents intact.
Minimal Environmental Impact
VRX’s referral to the EPA includes pre-referral feedback obtained from the EPA in December 2020, as well as its draft referral submitted in September 2020.
The recent referral concludes that the Company’s Arrowsmith North project can be developed without any sizeable residual impacts on the environment. This is because of the execution of mitigation measures, particularly the intended mining and rehabilitation methodology.
The Company will produce no dust and use no chemicals while processing the mined silica sand. Besides, efficient attritioning is expected to beneficiate the sand to glass-quality product for the export purpose.
A significant portion of the water used in processing will be recycled by VRX Silica, with initial engineering work targeting a recycling rate of up to 95 per cent. The company is engaged in further investigations to be able to recycle more water. The Company will source the water from the deeper Yarragadee North aquifer and conduct all mining well above the surficial water table.
To minimise emissions, the Arrowsmith North processing plant will be eventually powered by a hybrid wind, gas, and solar power system.
Aboriginal heritage and ethnographic surveys have already been conducted by the Company, with no major sites logged in the proposed mining area. VRX Silica’s Arrowsmith North project is likely to unfurl employment and contract opportunities to local Indigenous groups, and the Company plans to support the local ranger program.