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Silica mine hopes to bring billions to La Ronge

A proposed silica mine south of La Ronge is one step closer to reality.

Camilo Garcia, the CEO of Garcia Silica Incorporated, confirmed he had recently acquired a lease to two lots of land roughly 20 kilometers South of La Ronge.

He said he hopes to bring economic opportunities to people in the tri-community region.

“This project, at the end when it’s full blast, it’s going to be a $5 billion dollar investment all together, right here in La Ronge,” Garcia said.

Garcia said silica is a better product to mine as the prices do not “yo-yo” like uranium does, which means fewer lay-offs and consistent job opportunities for potential employees. Garcia said he’d like to bring at least 1,000 stable jobs to the community.

Based on estimates gathered so far, the lands he is currently leasing currently contains nearly 300 million tons of silica sand which would create at least 30 years of work in the area.

He said his goal is to not only produce silica sand, but also manufacture products to market globally.

Silica is used in a variety of products including glass, paint and other construction materials. The sand itself can also be used for fracking. Garcia said he’s already lined up buyers around the world should the project get underway.

The CEO said Garcia Silica also has production methods which would create silica “wafers” which are used in the creation of industrial solar panels. Each bar or “wafer” of silica contains enough material to create 1,736 industrial solar panels according to an email sent to paNOW. Garcia said his proposed silica plant could produce up to 40,000 blocks a day.

As Saskatchewan is landlocked, Garcia said a full fleet of trucks would be operating 24 hours a day bringing the sand and other products to railyards in Prince Albert to ship to international markets. Down the road, Garcia said he would like to open discussions about expanding Saskatchewan’s railroad network to include La Ronge, potentially lowering his export costs.

Garcia said his vision for the project expands beyond just silica mining and production, however.

The rights he has obtained from the province allow for trees to be harvested; clay can also be taken from the lands. Garcia said he plans to turn harvested wood into household products like chairs or beds; the clay which is taken would be turned into bricks or tiles.

He said once the projects are completed he’s committed to returning the environment to its natural state.

“We will be responsible. We don’t want to sh*t where we eat, we want to be here for a long, long time,” Garcia said.  

He committed to not working the leased lands simultaneously. He said the company would complete work on one parcel of land and begin the reclamation process before moving to work another area.

Garcia said so far, he’s received a lot of support from residents in the tri-community area. Mushroom pickers however, have been vocal on social media as some picking lands would be threatened by a mine nearby. Garcia recommended mushroom pickers look elsewhere for their income, as Saskatchewan has “hundreds of thousands of acres” available to forage in the North.

As for trappers who may have concerns, Garcia said he’s more than happy to start dialogues about the possibility of employment down the road when the project is operational.

Garcia Silica still needs to complete environmental assessments which are required by the government of Saskatchewan before the project is given the go-ahead.

A public meeting is scheduled to be hosted at the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 31 according to Garcia. He said he would be addressing the community with further details about his dream project, and he’s open to taking questions from community members.

[email protected]

On Twitter: @BryanEneas

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