VRX Silica Limited (ASX: VRX) today announced it has submitted its referral to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), under Section 38 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986, for environmental approval for its 100%-owned Arrowsmith North silica sand project, located approximately 270km north of Perth, Western Australia.
EPA referral formally submitted for Arrowsmith North.
Unique and progressive mining and rehabilitation method.
Minimal environmental impact and low carbon footprint.
Significant milestone for the development of Arrowsmith North.
The referral is the culmination of wide-ranging environmental studies undertaken by and for the Company over the past three years and extensive pre-referral consultation with the EPA.
VRX’s Managing Director, Bruce Maluish, commented:
“This is a significant milestone for the development of Arrowsmith North and our goal to become a leading supplier of high-quality silica sand to the global market.
“VRX has developed a unique and progressive mining and rehabilitation method specifically for Arrowsmith North and our other silica sand projects to minimise the environmental impact of our activities.
“Thorough planning will allow us to deliver our silica sand projects sustainably and efficiently, with a very low carbon footprint.”
VRX’s Vegetation Direct Transfer (VDT) method lends itself to rapid and extensive regeneration of affected areas based on continuous rehabilitation as silica sand mining progresses.
Root structures in the loose sand at Arrowsmith North are relatively shallow at 200-300mm in depth. The VDT method removes a 400mm deep sod, with the topsoil containing the vast majority of native flora and invertebrate fauna preserved and near-surface humus and its microbial contents remaining intact.
A video of the Company’s proposed VDT method is available for viewing at: https://vrxsilica.com.au/miningandrehabilitationmethodology/
VRX’s referral, which incorporates pre-referral feedback received from the EPA in December 2020 to the Company’s draft referral submitted in September 2020, concludes that Arrowsmith North can be developed without significant residual impacts on the environment given the implementation of mitigation measures, in particular the proposed mining and rehabilitation methodology.
VRX will use no chemicals and produce no dust while processing the mined silica sand, with efficient attritioning beneficiating the sand to glass-quality product for export.
The Company will recycle a substantial proportion of water used in processing, with preliminary engineering work targeting an up to 95% recycling rate and further investigations underway to recycle even more water. Water will be sourced from the deeper Yarragadee North aquifer.
All mining will be conducted well above the surficial water table.
The Arrowsmith North processing plant will ultimately be powered by a hybrid wind, solar and gas power system to minimise emissions.
The Company has already conducted Aboriginal heritage and ethnographic surveys with no significant sites recorded in the proposed mining area. Arrowsmith North will offer employment and contract opportunities to local Indigenous groups and VRX intends to support the local ranger program.
The EPA’s environmental impact assessment will be conducted as an accredited assessment that will see it also assess the proposal on behalf of the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.