Canadian Premium Sand Inc. (CPS) has announced a shift in the direction of the company’s business strategy to focus on developing its Wanipigow silica sand deposit into a sustainable float glass manufacturing and coating facility in the Winnipeg, Manitoba, area. This facility would focus on sustainability initiatives such as waste heat recovery and optimizing use of Manitoba’s abundant and inexpensive renewable electricity to set a new standard for low-carbon footprint glass manufacturing, according to the company. The greater Winnipeg area presents an opportunity for significant long-term manufacturing cost and logistics advantages for a float glass facility focused on energy efficient architectural glass or solar glass, according to the company.

The shift in business strategy is the result of an internal review of the various applications for the company’s silica sand deposit which identified float glass manufacturing as a high potential application for which the company’s silica sand is suited. Float glass manufacturing has shown better overall project economics and market stability compared to Wanipigow proppant production, according to the company. This internal review is supported by an independent business study commissioned by the company and conducted by an independent international glass markets focused consulting group, GlassGlobal Consulting GmbH.

“Today there is not a single float glass manufacturing facility in Canada,” says Glenn Leroux, president and CEO of CPS. “Every pane of glass utilized in this country is imported. Based on the business study and market projections completed by GlassGlobal, current dynamics in North America show a manufacturing supply deficit demonstrating the requirement for up to four additional float glass facilities by 2025 for North America to be self-sufficient. Establishing a float glass facility in Canada using responsibly sourced local raw materials and responsibly produced Canadian energy creates a unique opportunity to provide much needed sustainably manufactured float glass to Canadian, North American and international markets in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Preliminary test work shows that the Wanipigow Lower Black Island Formation (LBI) sand at the test site has potential for use in the manufacture of ultra-clear, energy efficient architectural float glass as well as solar glass for use in solar panels. The testing of a small subset of the company’s silica sand was conducted by an independent ISO/IEC 17025:2018 accredited laboratory specializing in glass and raw materials analysis, the Institut für Glas und Rohstofftechnologie (Institute of Glass and Raw Material Technology, or IGR). Three individual samples were collected from archived drill cores for test work and focused on a portion of the overall Wanipigow sand deposit within the deposit’s LBI sub-unit. The test work was performed in accordance with standard testing of oxidic raw materials for glass (DIN 51086-2) and included sieving, ICP-OES analysis, beneficiation tests followed by additional ICP-OES analysis, and melt tests. The preliminary results demonstrate that the LBI sand at this locale: contains high calculated silica (94.1% to 97.2% SiO2) with low detrimental elements such as iron; is easily beneficiated to higher calculated silica (99.3% to 99.5% SiO2) using standard methods such as a bumping table and a magnetic separator; and melt tests yielded no microscopic relics of un-melted grains.

The company expects to engage a Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) contractor during the first quarter of 2021 to work on site selection, facility design, site layout and potential capital and operating costs. The company will also initiate offtake discussions in concurrence with the FEED study and add glass industry expertise to the management team to develop a robust business plan to achieve a final investment decision.