Silica sand has been discovered deep beneath the ground in southern Manitoba, but whether it can be produced is still in question.

“We believe it’s a viable mineral to produce,” said Trevor Martens, vice president of market development at Evolve Surface Strategies.

“What we don’t know at this time and what we’re still going through all of our testing, is we don’t know how to do it yet.”

In 2017, HD Minerals made a large mineral stake in southern Manitoba.

Over the course of 2017 and 2018 the company drilled at about 28 test locations, finding silica sand approximately 200 feet below the ground.

The fact that the silica sand is so deep beneath the ground is what’s posing an obstacle for production to begin.

“It’s very unique being that it’s 200 feet below the ground,” said Martens.

“Most silica sand mines are open pits where they dig a great big hole and then put it on trucks and truck it away. This is a very unique process that we’re trying to create and, again, we’re not 100 per cent sure what that production looks like.”

Martens said the company is currently working with hydrogeologists, environmental specialists and drilling specialists to determine if silica sand production is a possibility.

“We’re trying to ensure that we can do it environmentally friendly and economically and ensuring the water’s taken care of, all of the environmental aspects are done,” he said.

The mineral search is currently focused on two areas, referred to as the Bru and Den. The Bru area covers parts of Ste. Anne, the R.M. of Taché and the R.M. of Springfield, and the Den area covers parts of Ste. Anne and the R.M. of La Broquerie. 

Martens said, though the testing is still in the preliminary stages, silica sand production could potentially bring jobs and infrastructure to these communities.

“We have not produced any sand. We don’t have a market picked,” he said.

“We’re, again, out very early in our communities to ensure that we’re bringing our communities and rural municipalities along with us as we try to discover how to do this.”