Potential silica plant could mean 150 jobs

The discovery of some unusually high-quality silica south of Golden could create approximately 150 direct full-time jobs.

The discovery of some unusually high-quality silica south of Golden could create approximately 150 direct full-time jobs, and another 500 spin-off jobs, should preliminary plans eventually move forward.

The discovery was made by Hi-Test Sand, an Edmonton-based company that was originally looking at a site south of Golden as a potential frac sand operation in 2013. A year into the process, and upon the discovery of the high-quality silica, the company changed its focus.

“That enabled the business model to change,” said John Carlson, the company’s vice-president.

Silicon metal is used in the production of aluminum, solar panels and computer chips. The resources from the Golden plant would primarily go towards the production of solar panels.

“The silicon metal is the most appealing to us because of the end use of it going into solar panels,” Carlson said.

The entire process is carbon-positive, Carlson says, even when including emissions from mining trucks on the site itself.

Shifting to a green project was another important factor in Hi-Test’s decision to explore the possibility of a silica plant instead of a frak sand operation.

“It was a very easy sell for us, not because of the economic benefit of it, but because of the idea of switching sides from being an input into the oil and gas business to being something that has more longevity in what we really think is going to be the way of the future for us,” he said.

The potential mine site is just north of Horse Creek, and the company would set up a 60 acre plant near Highway 95.

Currently, North America consumes 400,000 tonnes of silicon metal a year but produces just 200,000 ton. The site in Golden could produce about 50,000 tons per year and the current market for silicon metal is $2,700 (USD) per ton.

The entire project is worth $300 million (USD).

Carlson was clear that the project in Golden was far from being a sure-thing, and that Hi-Test is continuing to weigh its options, with another potential site in Washington being under consideration.

However, a few factors are in Golden’s favour, including the weak Canadian Dollar and the fact that Hi-Test would prefer to keep its operations north of the border.

“All the owners of Hi-Test Sand are Canadian and it will be an economic decision, but if the two are equal we would absolutely rather build this in Canada,” Carlson said.

A decision on whether Hi-Test will pursue the project should be made in the next two to six months.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kicking Horse Update, Tuesday, January 28

Kicking Horse reports 1 cm of snow in the last 24 hours,… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update Tuesday, January 28

DriveBC reports slippery conditions on Highway 1 between Glacier National Park West… Continue reading

Columbia Basin Trust shuffles board, new leaders at the table

The Trust is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors

BREAKING: Golden Rockets part ways with head coach

It’s not clear why Jeremy Blumes was let go from the team

VIDEO: As 106 reported dead from the coronavirus outbreak, countries look to evacuate citizens

Canada is warning its residents to not go to Hubei province at all

Taxi association asks B.C. Supreme Court to stop Uber, Lyft from operating

Petition alleges Passenger Transportation Board did not take taxis into account

Majority of Canadian boards had no female members in 2016 and 2017: StatCan

Statistics Canada says 18.1 per cent of director seats were held by women in 2017

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

Most Read