Silicon metal is seeing a strong boost in volume demand. Due to the renewed need for aluminum alloys, market research is estimating a significant surge of 4.3% CAGR from now well into 2024. Revenues in the industry will climb at even faster pace at 5.2% CAGR, while the overall market itself will see an increase to $3.4 billion by 2024.
The building boom across the globe, especially in Asia, coupled with the rapidly growing technology industry and the budding solar sector, have all spurred the demand for silicon metals. While the industry’s growth has come on rather rapidly for some, but one company that has been well prepared is Canada’s MGX Minerals (XMG:CNX)(MGXMF). The company continues to prove that it is a forward-thinker in the energy industry as evidenced by its compelling portfolio of diversified industrial mineral assets. The latter was on full display when the company released news that they had commenced drilling at its Longworth silica project in British Columbia, which they hope will be one of the first silicon metal producers in western North America.
The Potential of the Longworth Project
MGX’s 100%-owned Longworth Project is an important silica site and was listed at the top for silica occurrences across British Columbia. This new drill program will target a near-surface 11-acre area known as the Snow Zone. Back in May 2016, average assay samples from Longworth conducted by MGX’s Vice President of Exploration, Andris Kiauka, averaged 99.34% silicon dioxide (SiO2), up to 99.9% SiO2. However, the property itself boasts four zones of high purity silica — the Snow, Rain, Long and Doll zones — consisting of white colored quartzite.
The silica reported has been described as pure, massive and homogenous, and composed of well-sorted and well-rounded quartz grains averaging 0.5 mm in diameter. Consolidated Silver Standard Mines, the previous owner, conducted exploration and metallurgical work at Longworth during the 1980s. Those results were consistent to those done by Kiauka, suggesting that the silicon in the region could act as a potential feed source for silicon metal smelting.
The high purity quartzite found at these properties and in the Snow Zone are the exact form of silica needed to start new silicon metal production. To be specific, the results found by the Silver Standard established that 28 of the 42 collected and analyzed samples met the required chemical specifications, with silica dioxide (SiO2) levels ranging between 98.84 and 99.80%. Twelve of 16 samples also boasted acceptable levels of thermal shock resistance for production of silicon metal. Sampling of outcrop across the Snow claim has shown consistent high grade SiO2 levels.
As mentioned above, developing Longworth is crucial because currently there are no silicon metal producers in western North America, and advancement of the property has the potential to provide feedstock in support of the development of west coast production and for export to the high-demand markets of the Pacific Rim. Furthermore, Longworth sits in a prime location for silicon production. The location is under three miles from the Canadian National railway mainline, easily accessible by logging roads and has a full-capacity power grid.
A Multi-Front Strategy Taking Shape
MGX is constantly working to develop and find new opportunity. If the company’s strong and near-term metal potential is not enough reason to be excited, the company has single-handedly created a new lithium market.
MGX is continuing to advance its patented “petrolithium” extraction. The revolutionary method treats tainted wastewater brine from oil fracturing and removes lithium in the process. Not only that, the technology yields lithium in a matter of days compared to conventional methods that can take months or even years. There is nothing like it in the market and MGX’s leadership team is steadily moving closer and closer to full-scale production of this groundbreaking achievement.
These recent milestones fully prove that MGX is the complete package and investors should expect more exciting updates in the near future.
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