Muchea West Silica Sand Project

The Muchea West Silica Project, tenement E70/4905, was acquired by Carbine Resources in July 2021.  It is located less than a kilometre from the town of Muchea, 40 km north of Perth, adjacent to both the Moora-Kwinana rail line and the Brand Highway.  The northern extension of the Muchea West sand dune is host to the VRX Resources, Reserve and silica sand Mining Lease.


Project Location

Drilling completed in 2019 and 2021 has identified high purity silica sands at Muchea West with over 99.5% SiO2 and low levels of impurity (Fe2O3 and Al2O3).  The grade of the silica sand exceeds the requirements for Float and Container glass.  This unusually high grade can result, following a simple processing route, in a number of products at the premium end of the silica glass market including the ultra clear, high-tech glass market.



Tenement E70/4905 was granted on the 24th of April 2017 to Australia United Silica Corporation Pty Ltd (AUSCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of Carbine Resources Ltd (CRB:ASX). The tenement is located on land listed under the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act) and is subject to Threatened and Priority Flora (92203, 92210, 96622, 102730, 102731, 102736, 102737, 102739, 102744, 102745, 102746, 105271 and 105272) declared under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

The majority of the tenement comes under Commonwealth Files Notation Area – Muchea Armament Range, and is subject to the Commonwealth Defence (Areas Control) Regulations (1989).

Granting of the licence was subject to the existing Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for the Whadjuk People and is covered under the Native Title Group’s consent pursuant to clause 18 of Schedule 10.

The tenement also falls within the headwaters of the Gnangara Mound, classified as a Public Drinking Water Source Areas within the Underground Water Pollution Control Area.


Tenement Map for the Muchea West Silica Sands Project

Tenement Map

Regional Geology

The project site is located within the Perth Basin that extends south from the Southern Carnarvon Basin and covers an area of about 100,000 km2, from the Yilgarn Craton in the east to the edge of the continental shelf in the west. The Perth Basin forms an elongate north–south rift–trough along the west coast of Australia. The tectonic framework of the basin is dominated by the Darling Fault and Dandaragan Trough in the east (Perth Basin) and is comprised of Phanerozoic to recent sediments. The Darling Fault is nearly 1,000 km long, and its maximum throw may exceed 15,000 m. The Perth Basin is generally intensely faulted, with most faults having north to northwest trends and throwing both to the east and west.

In the Muchea region the Swan Coastal Plain is about 34 km wide in the north, 23 km in the south, and is bounded to the east by the Gingin and Darling Fault Scarps, which rise to over 200m above sea level. The scarps represent the eastern boundary of Tertiary and Quaternary marine erosion.

The Aeolian deposits of the Swan Coastal Plain are divided into the Quindalup dunes (youngest; located along the present coastline); Spearwood dunes and the Bassendean Dunes (oldest; located furthest inland). The majority of the project area occurs within the Bassendean Dune System and includes a small portion of the Yanga Unit along the eastern section of the Project area. The Bassendean Unit is described as sand plains with low dunes and occasional swamps, iron or humus podzols and areas of complex steep dunes. The Yanga Unit is described as a poorly drained plain with grey sandy benches and intervening swamps with areas of bog iron ore, mari or solonetzic soils.

The Bassendean Dune System forms a gently undulating aeolian sand plain about 20 km wide with the dunes to the north of Perth generally having greater topographic relief than those to the south.

The dunes probably accumulated as shoreline deposits and coastal dunes during interglacial periods of high sea level and originally consisted of mostly lime (calcareous) sand with quartz sand and minor fine-grained, black, heavy-mineral concentrations. Apart from a small local area to the south of Perth, the carbonate material has been completely leached leaving dunes consisting entirely of quartz sand .

It is pale grey to white and includes fine to coarse, but is predominantly medium-grained. It comprises moderately sorted, sub-rounded to rounded quartz sand, and commonly exhibits fining upward textures. A layer of friable, limonite-cemented sand, colloquially called ‘coffee rock’, occurs throughout most of the area near the water table. The Bassendean Sand unconformably overlies the Cretaceous and Tertiary strata, and inter-fingers to the east with the Guildford Formation. To the west, it is unconformably overlain by the Tamala Limestone. The depositional mechanism for this unit is unclear; it was likely deposited in a variety of fluvial, estuarine, and shallow-marine environments.


Surface Local Geology Map


Recent Activities

During the 2022- 2023 tenure period AUSCO (the wholly owned subsidiary of Carbine Resources Ltd) completed the following exploration and related activities:

  • A Spring Environmental Surveys for flora and vegetation by PGV Environmental
  • Environmental Fauna survey for Vertebrate fauna by Terrestrial Ecology
  • 2 Unexploded Ordnance ground magnetometer surveys
  • Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC)
  • Dieback Assessment of proposed drilling by Glevan Consulting
  • Hand auger drilling of 58 holes
  • Scoping/Feasibility study – ongoing
  • Mineral Resource Estimate by Widenbar
  • Mining Licence Application

Exploration Index

Drilling Program

The March 2023 drill program consisted of a total of 58 hand auger drill holes which were drilled at nominal 100m spacing on two drill lines parallel to previous drill lines within the tenement area. This drilling was completed by Hornet Drilling Pty Ltd. No clearing was undertaken.

Each of the 58 holes intersected white sand profiles as expected in a dune system. The drill depths were designed to terminate 3m above the modelled surface of the 2019 watertable. The watertable was significantly higher than the modelled surface. Hand augering cannot achieve great depths and the maximum depth achieved was 11.5m despite the maximum planned depth being 29m in this area.

The sample assays were carried out on 421 samples to determine the major and trace elements such as SiO2 (%), Fe2O3 (%), Al2O3 (%), CaO (%) MgO (%), K2O (%), TiO2 (%) and LOI (%). With the exception to SiO2, the major and trace elements were analysed using a four-acid digest followed by Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical (Atomic) Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES) analysis. Loss on Ignition (LOI) at 10000C was analysed by Thermal Gravimetric Analyser. SiO2 was back calculated by subtracting all ICP major and trace elements plus LOI from 100%.

Results from Carbine’s extensional drill program have confirmed the grades from previous drilling, and include intercepts such as:

MW0258 – 10.5m @ 99.58% SiO2, 235 ppm Fe2O3 and 594 ppm Al2O3 from 1m

MW0279 – 7m @ 99.59% SiO2, 96 ppm Fe2O3 and 1095 ppm Al2O3 from 1m

MW0294 – 10m @ 99.50% SiO2, 184 ppm Fe2O3 and 432 ppm Al2O3 from 1m

MW0297 – 9m @ 99.45% SiO2, 31 ppm Fe2O3 and 661 ppm Al2O3 from 1m

MW0298 – 10m @ 99.56% SiO2, 32 ppm Fe2O3 and 434 ppm Al2O3 from 1m

Of the 58 holes completed, only 2 holes returned a profile with less than 99.0% SiO2. All 373 holes drilled on the Project to date display the exceptional high grade and quality of the Muchea sand deposit.


Significant* drill intercepts

Hole ID Line No From
SiO2 Grade %
MW0258 N 1 11.5 10.5 99.58 0.023 0.059
MW0259 N 1 11.5 10.5 99.45 0.034 0.059
MW0269 N 1 11.0 10.0 99.45 0.041 0.118
MW0279 N 1 8.0 7.0 99.59 0.010 0.109
MW0282 S 1 11.5 10.5 99.46 0.009 0.110
MW0286 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.35 0.040 0.112
MW0287 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.32 0.107 0.119
MW0288 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.22 0.338 0.073
MW0289 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.50 0.016 0.099
MW0290 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.43 0.050 0.122
MW0291 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.49 0.005 0.111
MW0292 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.59 0.008 0.066
MW0293 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.57 0.006 0.045
MW0294 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.50 0.018 0.043
MW0295 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.48 0.010 0.111
MW0297 S 1 10.0 9.0 99.45 0.003 0.066
MW0298 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.56 0.003 0.043
MW0310 S 1 11.0 10.0 99.62 0.024 0.062

*Significant using a SiO2 grade > 90.0%


The overall silica grades returned were consistent with previous drilling in this area. The grades of Fe2O3 and Al2O3 were variable. Several low topography areas were included in this drilling with increased clay contents. The Fe2O3 levels were higher than for the 2023 drilling with a maximum of 0.34% (MW0288) but on the southern line a run of holes 700m long (MW0291 – MW0298) averaged less than 100 ppm (0.01%) Fe2O3.

Carbine has already displayed that, at these levels of Fe2O3 and Al2O3, the Muchea West silica sand can, by a simple attrition process, produce a final product that exceeds the requirements set for the high purity silica sand market (Annual Report 2022).


Mineral Resource Estimation

A mineral resource was completed by Widenbar and Associates in July 2022. The Resource is based on the results of drilling completed in 2019 (Ausco) and 2021 (Carbine) and was prepared by independent consultants, Widenbar and Associates (Widenbar).

Muchea West Silica Sand Project – Mineral Resource Estimate – All Drilling



SiO2 Cutoff Volume Tonnes Density SiO2 Al2O3 Fe2O3 K2O TiO2 LOI
Material Classification % million m3 million t/m3 % % % % % %
Main Sand Indicated 99.00 25.90 39.89 1.54 99.73 0.034 0.025 0.003 0.052 0.135
Main Sand Inferred 99.00 18.80 28.95 1.54 99.73 0.038 0.025 0.003 0.054 0.131
Main Sand Total 99.00 44.70 68.84 1.54 99.73 0.035 0.025 0.003 0.053 0.134
Lower Sand Indicated 99.00 1.54
Lower Sand Inferred 99.00 15.80 24.32 1.54 99.66 0.069 0.029 0.006 0.057 0.165
Lower Sand Total 99.00 15.80 24.32 1.54 99.66 0.069 0.029 0.006 0.057 0.165
Main + Lower Indicated 99.00 25.90 39.89 1.54 99.73 0.034 0.025 0.003 0.052 0.135
Main + Lower Inferred 99.00 34.60 53.28 1.54 99.70 0.052 0.026 0.005 0.056 0.147
Main + Lower Total 99.00 60.50 93.17 1.54 99.71 0.044 0.026 0.004 0.054 0.142


Revised Exploration Target

The Mineral Resource Estimate is defined from within the maiden Exploration Target reported to the ASX on 29 July 2021 and has the affect of removing that area from the Exploration Target and upgrading it to a Resource. Subsequently the Exploration Target is reduced.

The subsetting of the South East Resource and the South East Exploration Target changes the reporting of the Exploration Target.

In addition to the maiden Resource of 93 Mt @ 99.7% SiO2, the Exploration Target for the Muchea West Silica Sand Project is now reported as:

  • Western Area: 400Mt to 500 Mt of Silica Sand at an average grade of 99.6% to 99.8 % SiO2
  • Eastern Area: 210Mt to 270 Mt of Silica Sand at an average grade of 99.6% to 99.8 % SiO2
  • South Eastern Area 152 Mt to 168 Mt of Silica Sand at an average grade of 99.6% to 99.8% SiO2

The potential quantity and grade of the Exploration Targets are conceptual in nature. There has been insufficient exploration to estimate further Mineral Resources and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the estimation of additional Mineral Resources.

Scoping Study and Feasibility

Independent Metallurgical Operations Pty Ltd (IMO) was contracted to complete a scoping study to develop a mining and processing strategy for exploitation of the Muchea West Silica Sands deposit together with estimates for the operating and capital cost of the adopted mining and processing scenarios assuming an on-site or remote off-site processing operation with the final product preparation for haulage to a port facility. Final reports are pending.

Mining Licence Application

MLA70/1422 was lodged with DMIRS on 19 December 2022 and is for silica sand. It is located in the southeast corner of the tenement, E70/4905, the subject of recent drilling.

Carbine Resources