Special Report: When it comes to high purity silica sands, you can’t find much better than in Far North Queensland.

The area hosts the world’s largest silica sands mine at Cape Flattery – adjacent to which Metallica Minerals has just unearthed its own prospects.

In its first sampling program at the Cape Flattery Silica Sands (CFSS) project, Metallica this week identified high purity silica sands with samples of greater than 99 per cent.

It has its eye on three targets to start – each of which returned initial samples of greater than 99 per cent grade for silica oxide.

In all, those 3 target areas form the basis of Metallica’s exploration target of 20-100 million tonnes of the sand, with in-situ quality ranging from 96.9 per cent to as much as 99.6 per cent.


Feasibility of a silica mine is all down to its purity – the purer the better.

The resource is most well-known for its use as a key glass-making ingredient but as technology develops so too have its applications.

Silica can be found in everything from foundry casting, water filtration, hydraulic fracturing process and increasingly in high-tech products like solar panels.

Last year alone, a total of 188 million tonnes was produced globally.

Industry research estimates the global market for the sands to be growing at a compound annual growth rate of around 6 per cent between 2010 and 2017.

Extend that out to 2022, and it predicts annual revenues to reach $12.3 billion.  

Maiden sampling program at Metallica's Cape Flattery project in far North Queensland.
Maiden sampling program at Metallica’s Cape Flattery project in far North Queensland.


The company (ASX:MLM) says it is well poised to capitalise on the growing demand for the sands, spurred on by its big-hitting neighbour.

Mitsubishi’s world-class mine is just adjacent – and has been pumping out some of the world’s best since 1977.

Metallica plans to develop an exploration program to test the continuity of the silica sand in the targets which are adjacent to the Mitsubishi mining areas as it examines options for unlocking value from the asset.

“We are very pleased with results of the sampling program, which have confirmed the presence of high grade silica sand, similar to that mined by Mitsubishi in the area since 1967,” managing director Simon Slesarewich told the market.

Silica sand deposits fringe the Queensland coastline as Pleistocene to Holocene coastal deposits that extend up to 12km inland in some area and can average 25-30m in thickness


The company intends to progress this site with low cost exploration alongside its priority Urquhart Bauxite Project, also located in Far North Queensland at Cape York Peninsula.

Progress over the last 12 months has been transformational for the the project, a mine Metallica is planning to launch for less than $2 million.

Urquhart, a 50-50 joint venture with private Chinese company Ozore Resources, started out as just one of several different projects Metallica has pursued.

Over time the explorer has winnowed these down to bauxite, a project that will transform it into a producer.

In January, Metallica received the all-important Mining Lease for Urquhart from the reinstalled Palaszczuk government.

The final step is to get permission to build a road connecting the Urquhart project with the port facilities at Hey Point.