NORTHERN silica project

Located near the world’s largest silica sand mine in North Queensland, Diatreme’s NORTHERN Silica Project is capable of producing premium-quality silica for the fast-growing Asian solar panel market.

One of the world’s purest silica sand projects, the NSP has an established resource of 235 million tonnes of high purity silica sand, with potential for further expansion.

A Scoping Study released in June 2023 highlighted the potential for a valuable long life mining operation, of significant scale and in close proximity to existing marine infrastructure. The study indicated a potential production rate of 5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) could be sustained for 25 years, with potential for further resource expansion.

Metallurgy tests have indicated the NSP’s ability to produce a high purity, low iron silica product suitable for solar panel manufacturers and other specialty glass makers.

Significantly, the NSP has the potential to create around 120 valuable new jobs and training opportunities for the benefit of the local community, in a drive-in, drive-out operation. Diatreme is also working to foster business opportunities for the community of Hope Vale/Cooktown, particularly for First Nations and other local communities.

The project will also contribute to global decarbonisation through the supply of high-grade silica products for the solar PV industry. Around 70% of every solar panel is comprised of glass made from high purity, low iron silica. Every million tonnes of high purity silica produced at the NSP could be used in the manufacture of around 103 million solar panels, providing the equivalent emissions savings from taking 4.25 million cars off the road.

In June 2022, Diatreme announced a transformational strategic partnership with global material solutions leader Sibelco. A leading supplier of silica to the Asian market for specialty glass, Sibelco brings world-class silica processing and technical knowledge along with marketing and development expertise based on its 150 years of international experience.

Sibelco completed in December 2022 its first tranche investment ($11m) to hold a 9.99% project interest, with a second investment tranche undertaken in October 2023 ($24m) taking its total project interest to 26.8%, with the balance (73.2%) held by Diatreme.

Notably also, the Queensland Government’s critical minerals strategy announced in 2023 included silica sand as one of the state’s critical minerals, with the Cape Flattery area identified as a potential silica critical minerals hub.


Diatreme anticipates the NSP will mine silica sand at an initial rate of 3.75 Mtpa during Phase 1 operations for the first two years, with scope to expand operations during Phase 2 to 6.25 Mtpa over the remaining 23 years life of mine. These equate to production rates of 3 to 5 Mtpa for Phase 1 and Phase 2 respectively.

Embracing innovative mining techniques, the NSP will operate above the groundwater table, ensuring environmental stewardship. The mining process is engineered to safeguard the local ecosystem, with vegetative buffers and progressive rehabilitation plans in place.

Key infrastructure components will comprise an on-site processing plant, conveyors to transport sand product to port, on-site and off-site stockpiles, and any maritime infrastructure required to support construction and operational/export activities at the Port of Cape Flattery.

Mining will occur via a front end loader or dry bucket wheel system, which will feed silica sand to trommels or vibrating screens. Sand is then pumped as a slurry to a processing plant for removal of impurities. Final product is then dewatered and stacked in a 250Kt stockpile, with the reclaimed final product then transported to port via conveyor for loading on to ocean-going vessels for export.

A mine access road will be constructed from the mine site to the Starcke Highway (Mount Webb Wakooka Road). The Northern Silica Access Road alignment (MLA 100311) is the preferred road alignment for the project.

Diatreme’s planned maritime infrastructure, designed in harmony with the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, excludes capital dredging, reflecting our dedication to conservation. We are at the forefront of sustainable mining, exploring renewable energy options like solar and wind, complemented by back-up diesel generators.

Water resources will be sourced from a dedicated groundwater bore within the project area. With an allocation of 3,500ML/year, water usage will be meticulously managed to meet operational needs while preserving the region's ecological balance.

By providing on-site accommodation and potential commuting options from the Hope Vale township, Diatreme will foster a close-knit work environment and ensure direct employment opportunities for the local community.

The NSP is more than a mining operation; it is testament to Diatreme’s vision of harmonising industry innovation with environmental and social responsibility, providing sustainable development for the benefit of Far North Queensland and beyond.


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