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.

Diatreme Resources’ Northern Silica Project is a promising development in the field of silica sand mining. Situated in the Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire near Cape Flattery, Far North Queensland, the project is in close proximity to the existing operations of Cape Flattery Silica Mines and the Cape Flattery Port.

Recognising the importance of local communities and traditional owners of the area, Diatreme Resources places a high priority on engaging with the Hope Vale community and the traditional owners of the land, including the Dingaal, Dharrpa, Nguurruumungu, Gulaal and Thanil clans. The project aims to provide important jobs and business development opportunities directly to these local communities, fostering a strong relationship and contributing to regional economic growth.

The Northern Silica Project is poised to become a leading supplier of low-cost, premium quality "low iron" silica sand product, catering to the rapidly expanding photovoltaic glass markets. The project's scoping study indicates a potential target production rate of 5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) that could be sustained for 25 years. Metallurgy tests have shown that the high purity silica product produced is highly suitable for solar panel manufacturers' sheet glass requirements.

The proposed project is a greenfield open cut mining operation with an onsite processing facility. The initial target production is set at 3 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of silica sand for a 25-year mine life, with a production expansion to 5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of silica sand after two years of operation. The project is expected to consist of the following components:

- Camp and Admin infrastructure area
- Mine extraction areas and associated mine infrastructure area
- Stockpile area
- Site access road from Mount Webb – Wakooka Rd
- Port infrastructure at Port of Cape Flattery for transhipment operations during the early years followed by a direct loadout facility.


The proposed project is based on a largely "standalone" development option with planned port infrastructure (logistics wharf and wharf extension) developed within the Port of Cape Flattery limits. The development would substantially increase the export capacity of PV grade critical mineral silica sand from the existing port precinct.

Diatreme Resources is planning to advance to a full Feasibility Study involving all necessary technical studies, environmental impact assessments, permits, and approvals required to move to a final investment decision. The Northern Silica Project has undergone continued expansion, with additional drilling planned in 2023 anticipated to further increase its high-grade silica sand resource.

For more information about the Northern Silica Project, please refer to the Scoping Study ASX Announcement.


project summary

learn more about silica sands

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Frequently Asked questions

What are the draft Terms of Reference (TOR)?

The draft TOR will outline the requirements and scope of technical studies that must be undertaken by Diatreme Resources as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Northern Silica Project (NSP). These include environmental studies as well as assessing implications on social and economic values. 

The NSP has not been approved. Approval of the project (including the granting of a mining lease by the Queensland Government) will be dependent on the outcomes of the EIS process.

What is the current public submission period related to the EIS?

The EIS has not yet been prepared, though a number of technical studies have commenced. The draft TOR for the EIS will be available for public review and comment in Q3 2023.   
If there are additional or specific issues that the community wants addressed in the draft TOR, the current public comment period is aimed at seeking this feedback. The formal submission process is being managed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES).

Submissions on the draft TOR should be made to the Department directly as the entity managing the EIS process - those details will be made available here once the public notification period commences.

Why are public submissions sought?

The purpose of this step in the EIS process is to make affected and interested persons aware of the NSP proposal and to invite the public to review and provide submissions on the draft TOR, which will outline what topics and issues the EIS must cover and contain.

However, this is only the first stage of a broader stakeholder engagement programme on the draft EIS that will be occurring in parallel with the preparation of the document. 

The public will have the opportunity to make a submission on the actual draft EIS document once it is prepared (this is expected in mid-2024). 

What effects will the mine have on adjacent land, sea and waterways?

The EIS process will involve comprehensive environmental studies to determine the extent to which the proposed mining and associated export operation affect the environmental values of the land, sea and waterways. 

It is planned that the mine site will have extensive buffer areas proposed to protect waterways, wetlands, and important vegetation communities.

The mining operation is not proposed to extend into or below the natural groundwater table and any indirect impacts on surface water and groundwater both within and adjacent to the mine site will be comprehensively assessed as part of the EIS.

The project will be closely regulated by Government approval processes at the Commonwealth, State and local government level, which will require best practice environmental management approaches are undertaken.

Are there human health risks from silicosis associated with the Project?

It is acknowledged that there may be community concern with the human health implications involving the stockpiling and transportation of silica sand. This is a matter that will be addressed and confirmed in the EIS. 

The silica sand, in its natural form as mined and during proposed transport over land and water as part of the NSP, is inert sand with a typical particle size that does not represent a human health risk as dust or as air emissions. 

This is in contrast to silica dust (crystalline silica) which is more generally associated with further processes after mining, such as cutting or grinding of manufactured quartz products and is harmful when inhaled into the lungs. This respirable quartz is approximately 100 times smaller than a typical grain of beach sand which Diatreme Resources is looking to mine and process at Northern Silica.   

How will the silica product be used?

The project will produce a premium-quality silica sand, suitable for the fast-growing solar panel manufacturing industry and other high-tech applications. Demand for solar energy continues to increase, with the International Energy Agency reporting that solar investment will eclipse oil production for the first time ever in 2023.