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NWT a potential fracking sand producerSilica found around NWT would provide a high-quality and nearby source of material for hydraulic fracturing in the area
Northern News Services
Published Monday, September 23, 2013
With hydraulic fracturing drawing eyes to the Sahtu region, the sand used for the controversial oil extraction method may be drawing eyes to other regions of the NWT.
Whitebeach Point is located on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, approximately 44 kilometres from Yellowknife. The fine, quartz-rich sand, or silica, is found on Crown land there and is coveted for industrial purposes, including use in hydraulic fracturing. Aurora Geosciences staked claims to numerous silica sites in the NWT, including Whitebeach Point. - Graeme McNaughton/NNSL graphic
Currently, Aurora Geosciences, a Northern consulting and contracting company, has until the end of the year to act on a mineral claim it has staked at Whitebeach Point, which has an abundance of accessible sand.
The claim was staked in 2011 after the GNWT initiated a study on the economic potential of fine quartz-rich sand, called silica, found in areas around the NWT.
The resulting report, Identification of Potential Sand Deposits in the Northwest Territories, was released in March 2012.
It states silica found in the NWT could not only be used on local projects, but on hydraulic fracturing projects in northeast British Columbia, Alberta, and the Yukon.
Areas identified by the report as containing the sand include the Liard River Valley, quartz-rich sandstone along the Mackenzie River, and along the shore of Great Slave Lake, particularly along the North Arm.
The last location mentioned is where Aurora Geoscience's mineral claims are located.
"We've just staked it based on its potential," said David White, vice-president of Aurora Geosciences, in a recent interview with News/North.
"Sometimes, we stake ground for clients and sometimes we stake ground of our own interests based on the speculative nature of it."
Shannon Gault, director of lands and environment for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, said Whitebeach point is within the asserted territory of the YKDFN and such a project would warrant investigation if it progresses.
"If it's within our territory, it will be on our radar and I would have to look into what the implications are," Gault said.
"At this point, YKDFN hasn't to my knowledge made any comments or submissions on that file, if it is before the review board, but certainly we will be looking into it if it is within our territory."
The Tlicho Government also said the project would be looked into if it progressed but officials declined to comment further before looking at the project more closely.
Additionally, Silica North Resources Ltd. holds minerals rights to more than 4,184 acres of land approximately 100 km north of the Horn River Basin, near Fort Liard.
As recently as Dec. 2011, the company had been expected to start construction in 2012 and reach production in 2013. However, the project has not yet progressed. The company's website has since gone offline.
- with files from Daron Letts