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VRX Silica (ASX:VRX) - Managing Director, Bruce Maluish
Managing Director, Bruce Maluish
Source: The Market Herald
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  • VRX Silica (VRX) has submitted a referral to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for its Arrowsmith North project in WA
  • This is the first stage of an environmental impact assessment from the EPA, as VRX develops the key silica sands project
  • VRX management believes it can deliver its silica sand projects sustainably and efficiently, with a “very low” carbon footprint
  • This all comes down to the company’s Vegetation Direct Transfer method, which helps vegetation in mined areas rapidly regenerate even as mining is ongoing
  • Essentially, a specially designed front-end loader removes a sod of vegetation from the top part of the soil in the area as it is cleared for mining
  • This sod is kept intact and moved to an already-mined area so that it can continue to grow — essentially replacing vegetation as new ground is cleared
  • Moreover, VRX has already completed Aboriginal heritage and ethnographic surveys, with no significant sites recorded across the planned mining area
  • Once the EPA’s impact assessment has been completed, VRX will be one step closer to full-scale production from the project
  • Shares in VRX Silica are trading 1.64 per cent lower this morning to 30 cents per share

VRX Silica (VRX) has submitted a referral to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for its Arrowsmith North project in WA.

The EPA referral is a major milestone for the silica sand miner as the company builds up the Arrowsmith North project. Today’s news comes one week after VRX announced a 130-hole drilling program at the project to begin this month.

Essentially, the referral is the first stage of an environmental impact assessment from the EPA as VRX justifies its low-impact mining methods for the project.

VRX Managing Director Bruce Maluish said the company believes it can deliver its silica sand projects sustainably and efficiently, with a “very low” carbon footprint.

“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,” Bruce said.

VRX management said its Vegetation Direct Transfer (VDT) method will help vegetation in mined areas rapidly regenerate even as mining is ongoing.

VRX’s vegetation rehabilitation

The company’s mining process at the Arrowsmith North project has been designed to replace areas of mined vegetation and native plants while new areas are being cleared for mining.

VRX said the roots of native flora and invertebrate fauna at Arrowsmith North are relatively shallow, typically between 200 and 300 millimetres deep.

As such, before silica sand extraction begins, VRX will first carefully remove a 400-millimetre-deep sod from the top of the soil with a specially-designed front-end loader.

The front-end loader keeps the majority of the native vegetation and its microbial contents intact and will move the sod to a previously mined area immediately on extraction from the ground.

Using this method, only a 150-metre-by-150-metre block of land is ever cleared at one time. As more land is cleared, the removed vegetation is put back in the ground over an area that has already been mined.

On top of this, VRX’s team can access the Arrowsmith North site with nothing but a temporary track in the ground, so no permanent and damaging roads are required. Solar, gas and wind energy powers the nearby processing plant.

With all this careful planning going into the silica sands project, VRX’s referral submission to the EPA concludes that Arrowsmith North can be developed without significant residual impacts on the environment.

Moreover, VRX has already completed Aboriginal heritage and ethnographic surveys, with no significant sites recorded across the planned mining area.

Moving forward, the EPA will conduct its environmental impact assessment that will also assess a proposal on behalf of the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water, and Environment.

Once the impact assessment has been completed — and if the Arrowsmith North project is up to scratch — VRX will be one step closer to full-scale production from the project.

Shares in VRX Silica are trading 1.64 per cent lower today to 30 cents per share at 11:53 am AEDT. The company has a $151.4 million market cap.

VRX by the numbers
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