Written by 9:37 am Australia, Business News, Editor's Pick, Mining, Most Popular, VRX Silica

VRX Silica’s Quarterly Update: A Closer Look at Impressive Project Advancements, Strategic Initiatives, and MoUs, Announced by MD Bruce Maluish

VRX Silica
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VRX Silica Limited (ASX: VRX) is a pure-play silica sand company involved in the exploration and development of five long-term silica sand projects in Western Australia. The company is led by MD Bruce Maluish, working on several high-grade silica sand projects, including the Arrowsmith North, Arrowsmith Central and the Arrowsmith Brand Silica Sand Projects, situated 270 km north of Perth in Western Australia. They are also developing the Muchea Silica Sand Project, located 50 km north of Perth, and the Boyatup Silica Sand Project, located 100 km east of Esperance. VRX Silica announced its June 2023 Quarterly Activity Report, highlighting significant development during the quarter.

Figure 1: Locations of VRX Silica’s Projects

Significant Progress Achieved in Arrowsmith North Environmental Approval Process

In June 2023, VRX Silica announced that Arrowsmith North’s Environmental Review Document (ERD) had been accepted by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) for publication, initiating a four-week Public Environmental Review (PER) process. The PER is a crucial step toward obtaining environmental approval for the project, which could last up to 30 years and contribute significantly to the economy of Western Australia. VRX Silica received confirmation from the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water for an accredited assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), allowing reliance on EPA assessments for proposals with national environmental impact. Extensive environmental studies have been conducted on its silica sand projects since 2017, focusing on gaining approval initially for the Arrowsmith North development.

Figure 2: Arrowsmith North and Arrowsmith Central: Mining areas and exploration Licences

Progress on Arrowsmith Brand Silica Sand Project

In May 2023, VRX Silica announced an extension of its known JORC 2012-compliant Resources in the Arrowsmith area. This extension includes a new Resource at the recently established Arrowsmith Brand Silica Sand Project, situated 270 km north of Perth. The new contiguous Resource south of Arrowsmith North, bounded to the south by the Brand Highway, offers additional silica sand production potential. Though not a current priority, the development of Arrowsmith Brand could expand production to meet future rising demand. The silica sand found at Arrowsmith Brand bears similarities to that of Arrowsmith North. Testwork conducted on samples from this Resource has shown the potential to produce similar products. On July 18th, 2023, VRX Silica was granted a mining lease (M 70/1418) with an area of 1,994 Ha, primarily within Exploration Licence E70/5027.

Figure 3: Location of Arrowsmith Brand Silica Sand Project

Figure 4: VRX Silica’s Mineral Resources & Reserves as of 09/05/2023

VRX Silica Limited Finishes the Engineering Phase for Arrowsmith North Processing Plant

In May 2023, VRX Silica Limited announced the completion of essential engineering work to construct a silica sand processing plant with a capacity of 2 million tonnes per year at Arrowsmith North. The detailed design phase is nearly finished, with minor areas to be detailed during execution without affecting the schedule. Innovative processing methods are incorporated into the design, providing flexibility to produce various silica sand products based on the market’s demand from foundry and glass industries. VRX Silica conducted extensive testing, developing unique processes to produce high-quality, high-yield silica sand products with low emissions and carbon footprints.

Key milestones before commencing construction include finalising finance, establishing a commencement date, and gaining access to the construction site. The project’s cost estimate, initially AUD 28.3 million, including a contingency of AUD 6 million, is to be updated in 2023 after the re-tendering of crucial equipment.

Initiative for Strategic Research with UNSW

In June 2023, VRX Silica Limited announced a partnership with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE) for a strategic research project on solar panel glass recycling in Australia. This initiative is supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) at UNSW. The project aims to investigate the market potential for a local, low-carbon, closed-loop photovoltaic (PV) glass industry, specifically focusing on recycling the glass components of end-of-life solar panels.

The project will conduct a techno-economic analysis of Australia’s proposed closed-loop PV glass industry, centred on recycling solar panel cover glass as a cullet (crushed glass) for manufacturing new glass. VRX Silica, specialising in silica sand, will collaborate with UNSW, sharing data on its Muchea Silica Sand Project deposit’s low-iron silica sand suitability for solar panel glass manufacturing. They will also provide insights into sand and cullet requirements, global sand availability, and knowledge of the glass manufacturing sector.

The two-year project, commencing on July 1st, 2023, seeks to address the insufficiently studied aspect of solar panel recycling, advancing the sustainability of the solar energy sector in Australia. Notably, VRX Silica’s involvement does not include any cash funding obligations.

Extension of MOU with Xodus

In June 2023, VRX Silica agreed to extend its non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Xodus Group Pty Ltd until December 31st, 2023. The original MOU was first announced in March 2022, aiming to explore the possibility of supplying renewable hydrogen to VRX Silica’s silica sand projects and potential nearby glass-manufacturing facilities for net-zero glass production. Xodus is an energy consultancy with expertise in environmental science, engineering, and services related to the energy transition. They are leading the development of Project MercurHy, focused on industrial-scale renewable hydrogen production in Western Australia’s Mid-West region.

The MOU facilitates confidential communication and potential future collaboration between the two parties. It involves sharing information to assess the feasibility of an offtake agreement for 9,000 to 11,000 tonnes of hydrogen annually, sufficient to supply a substantial glass-making facility.

Other Important Events of this Quarter

  • VRX Silica received approval for an AUD 2 million grant from the Western Australian Government’s Investment Attraction Fund (IAF) to investigate developing a high-purity quartz flour manufacturing process and pilot plant. The project aims to achieve 99.9% SiO2 (5N) purity for commercialising the manufacturing process within Western Australia, catering to the growing demand for high-purity quartz products in various industries.
  • On July 28th, 2023, VRX Silica received Geothermal Exploration Permit GEP 44, consisting of 8 blocks at Dandaragan, Western Australia. The permit offers an opportunity to explore geothermal energy options for producing long-term renewable energy and green hydrogen in the Mid-West region, including support for their silica sand projects and glass manufacturing. VRX Silica plans to collaborate with companies who have the technical skills required to develop geothermal power projects.

Figure 5: Location of Dandaragan Geothermal Exploration Permit

About Mr Bruce Maluish, Managing Director of VRX Silica Limited

Bruce Maluish, the Managing Director of VRX Silica, has over 40 years of experience in the mining industry. His expertise covers various resource sectors, such as gold, nickel, and mineral sands. MD Bruce Maluish, throughout his career, has held significant leadership roles in well-known organisations like the Monarch Group of Companies, Abelle, Hill 50, Matilda Minerals, and Forsyth Mining. He is well-known in the industry for his many skills, from setting up and marketing IPOs to the identification of projects and negotiations with clients.

Figure 6: Mr Bruce Maluish, Managing Director of VRX Silica Limited

Investors Outlook

  • As of July 31st, 2023, VRX Silica’s share price stood at AUD 0.165 per share, with an average 52-week stock trading range between AUD 0.185 to AUD 0.093 per share.
  • VRX Silica’s share price has experienced a year-to-date (YTD) increase of 22.22% as of July 31st, 2023.
  • VRX Silica has 560.4 million shares on issue and a market capitalisation of approximately AUD 92.47 million as of July 31st, 2023.
  • The Company’s progress in different projects, especially in Arrowsmith North Silica Sand Project, promises a prosperous future.


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