A PROPOSED $1 billion silica mine near Hope Vale is a step closer, with Diatreme Resources releasing the project scoping study this month.
Diatreme CEO Neil McIntyre told Cape York Weekly the study was the first step in an important process that he hoped would culminate with construction at the Northern Silica Project in two years’ time.
“The next step for us which we’ve already started is the environmental permit and approval process, public consultation and the mining leases at the end of that,” Mr McIntyre said.
“The scoping study was incredibly positive, and now we look forward to advancing it through the next steps and giving it that certainty so people can start planning around the economic opportunities to come out of it.”
The study indicated the Northern Silica Project could produce 5 mega tonnes of high purity low iron silica product annually for 25 years.
Mr McIntyre said the mine would have a profound economic impact on the surrounding region, with an estimated 100 staff needed to keep it running.
“We’ve got about a dozen people on the ground now with an office in Hope Vale and another in Cairns,” he said.
“We’ll be adding some more people to the workforce over the next 12 to 18 months to undertake all the studies and surveys and so on.”
Mr McIntyre said it was Diatreme’s view that the area would become a world-class silica hub, with the world’s largest silica mine at Cape Flattery and Diatreme’s secondary project, Galalar, in the same area.
“The resources here are unique in the world,” he said.
“Silica is the primary feed product for solar panels and high-end architectural glass.
“The demand for the product is growing year on year and we don’t see that diminishing.”
Mr McIntyre said the scoping study was part of building a solid foundation for the proposed mine, which would have a minimum 25-year life span.
“I think the key to unlocking benefits for the region is approaching mining with a sensible measure, good strong engagement with local communities, built to last,” he said.
“These are long-term operations that will be embedded in the community for a long time and we need to build a really solid platform for that and we think we’ve done that well.”