In a significant development, Australia-based silica sand explorer VRX Silica Limited (ASX:VRX) has released its quarterly activities and cashflow reports for the three months ended 31st March 2020. During the quarter, the Company’s activities were focused around its advanced silica sand projects, including Arrowsmith and Muchea projects which are just a few steps away from entering the production phase.
In this context, let us scroll through activities conducted by VRX Silica at its advanced projects during the quarter:
Signed a Native Title Mining Project Agreement for Muchea
The most notable achievement of VRX Silica during the quarter was signing a Native Title Mining Project Agreement for its high-grade Muchea project. The Company entered into an agreement with the “Whadjuk People Native Title Claim Applicants” (authorised representatives of the Whadjuk People Native Title Claim Group) under Application WAD242/201 and agent for the Whadjuk People, “SWALSC” (South West Aboriginal Land & Sea Council Aboriginal Corporation) in January 2020.
Under the pact, the Whadjuk People provided their consent to:
- carry out silica sand mining operations at Muchea, and
- the grant of Mining and the Miscellaneous Licences for the project.
The agreement was an outcome of negotiations performed in good faith with SWALSC and the Whadjuk People.
The agreement has paved the way for the grant of Mining Lease and Miscellaneous Licences for Muchea. The agreement also directs involved parties towards a set of long-term objectives along with measures devised to achieve those objectives over the life of the Muchea Project.
For More Information, Read Another Feather in VRX Silica’s Cap, Signed a Native Title Mining Project Agreement for Muchea Project
The parties have begun the official procedure needed under the agreement with the National Native Title Tribunal to attain the approval for the grant of the Mining Lease from the Minister for Mines.
Despite of delays due to coronavirus crisis, the Company anticipates issue of consent orders by the Tribunal and grant of the Mining Lease in the June 2020 quarter.
Progressed with Environmental Approvals Process for Muchea and Arrowsmith
VRX Silica progressed with the environmental approvals process for its advanced silica sand projects during the quarter.
For the grant of a Mining Permit at the Muchea, the Company continued to amass required data to support referrals to the State Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the Federal Department of Environment and Energy (DotEE). VRX Silica and its environmental consultants conducted pre-referral meetings with DotEE representatives, receiving valuable feedback in relation to referral requirements.
Additionally, with regards to permitting for the Arrowsmith projects, the Company completed all the field work required to endorse the environmental referrals for evaluation by DotEE. The Company notified that the formal referral for the Arrowsmith North project is imminent.
The Company does not expect the evaluation process with DotEE to be materially impacted by the coronavirus crisis and anticipates completion of this process for Arrowsmith North.
Moreover, the Company informed referral to the State EPA to be followed in the June 2020 quarter, to be succeeded by Arrowsmith Central.
Continued Negotiations Regarding Mining Project Agreement for Arrowsmith Projects
VRX Silica continued negotiations or discussions with the Southern Yamatji Native Title Claimants, along with YMAC or Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (their representative) during the quarter regarding:
- Planned mining project agreement for its advanced Arrowsmith Projects, and
- Consent for the provision of Mining Leases in addition to Miscellaneous Licences for the Arrowsmith projects.
The Company mentioned that the coronavirus crisis caused delays, owing to regulations forbidding movement inside and outside of Aboriginal communities. Besides, restrictions on public gatherings impeded progress and posed unique challenges for completion of the process. However, the Company continues to operate in a constructive way with Southern Yamatji people and YMAC, seeking the way to complete and sign the formal pact.
The process is expected to be finalised in the June quarter, paving the way for the grant of the Mining Leases for its high-grade Arrowsmith Projects.
Pursued Discussions with Potential Customers in Asia
During the March quarter, VRX Silica also continued talks with its potential clients in Asia (South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia) for long-term contracts for products to be produced from Muchea and Arrowsmith Projects.
The Company added that though its road trip through Asia got postponed due to coronavirus crisis, it has advanced discussions with potential customers through video conferencing. The Company cited that the interest remains strong in those countries despite the current economic climate.
In addition to these developments, the Company surrendered E52/3447 and relinquished exploration licence E52/2372 for Warrawanda Project during the quarter. The decision was taken after a review of assays undertaken on cores from the diamond drilling program carried out at Warrawanda Project revealed that the earlier identified quartz outcrops are of insufficient tonnage and not of an economic grade to justify further exploration.
Financial Updates of March 2020 Quarter
The Company conducted a general meeting of shareholders on 29th January 2020, looking for:
- Listing Rule 7.4 approval for the issue of the shares to multiple institutional and sophisticated investors in accordance with November 2019 placement activity ($4 million).
- Listing Rule 7.1 approval for the issue of options to the lead manager for the placement and free-attaching options under the placement.
VRX Silica mentioned all resolutions were successfully passed in the shareholder meeting following the conduct of a poll, after which the Company issued options on 31st January 2020 and quoted on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) from 4th February 2020 under “VRXO” code.
The exploration and evaluation expenditure amounted to $21,000 during the quarter, and the Company expects exploration and evaluation expenditure capitalised to be at $186,000 for the current quarter, which includes:
- Heritage surveys and native title approvals: $93k
- Environmental approvals (including flora and fauna assessments, drainage and dieback studies): $75k
- Water well design: $9k
- Remaining balance to be spent on sample assays and storage.
In a nutshell, VRX Silica is rapidly progressing with the development activities at its advanced silica sand projects, which are highly capable of producing superior quality silica sand products. With a cash balance of $3.2 million as on 31st March 2020, the Company seems well positioned to conduct further exploration and evaluation activities at its advanced projects.
VRX traded at $0.075 on 23 April 2020.