The white rectangular shapes represent the four Crescent Spur tenures owned by the company. The bulk samples would be taken from an area close to Hwy 16 off of Loos Rd.

A U.S.-based company is awaiting government approval for the next stage of investigating a silica mine near Crescent Spur.

The company, American Alliance Card, filed with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Resource Operations in order to perform bulk sample testing this year. The bulk sampling would require about 5 hectares located in two of their four tenures located just off Hwy 16 and Loos Rd.

American Alliance CEO Steven Cross of Michigan told the Goat in a telephone interview last week that in addition to a quarry on-site, the company hopes to develop a potential processing facility near the former McBride Forestry Industries veneer plant west of McBride.

His company has been one of several companies looking at developing several ore deposits near Crescent Spur and Longworth in recent years. Cross says his company now entirely owns their tenures and they have shelved the Longworth property in favour of Crescent Spur.

American Alliance Card LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Alliance Financial and Funding Group LLC. The parent company is a minority owner in silica operations in China and the Philippines, Cross says. This would be the company’s first Silica operation in North America.

Cross says initial research shows the silica at their Crescent Spur tenures comes out of the ground cleaner than other samples after purification. He says the biggest growth in silica demand is the aerospace industry, but it’s a remarkably versatile compound.

“If you’ve used make-up today you’ve had silica. If you take medicine, it’s in pharmaceuticals. It’s in our electronics, our phones. It’s one of the binding agents in paper. It’s a binding agent in inks. It’s used as an abrasive, as a lubricant.”

Cross says the quarry will likely span about 10 ha, but their four Crescent Spur tenures cover roughly 5200 ha. A 2008 geological survey notes more research needs to be done for a resource estimate, but the site looks promising. According to the company, there is estimated to be several billion tons of high quality quartz silica rock in the tenures.

The company’s application to the government notes the majority of the tenure is forested. The trees would be removed to access the silica for the bulk sampling, but kept on site for remediation later on.

The bulk sample would involve blasting and drilling the mineral deposit and removing approx. 10,000 tons of quartz silica rock from an area spanning 5 hectares. The mineral would then be transported to a testing facility to analyze its purity.

The proposal notes that the bulk sample will be taken from an area with an existing access road and that is already clear cut.

The project is in the phase of public consultation, including First Nations consultation, says a government spokesperson with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Resource Operations. Once the government issues the company a permit, they can proceed with bulk sampling between now and the end of 2013. Further development would require more permitting.

“Right now we’re trying to get it opened up to get into a quarry stage,” Cross says. “There are light discussions on a processing area.”

He said he made some friends in the Crescent Spur and McBride area and would like to provide local jobs by building, for instance, a local crushing facility

Cross says he doesn’t think they would require a transmission line for the development.

“It depends what the engineers say,” he said, adding that they won’t be doing any big processing on the site. “McBride already has everything else we would need.”

He says the easiest way for locals to learn about the project is to visit their website.

Cross says the closest neighbour to the proposed quarry is 5-6 miles away. Their mine manager, who owns a bed and breakfast, is the closest resident.

Cross says he is “very big into philanthropy” and has a soft spot for making sure “things are clean and things get done in the right way.”

“Other than having Italian in me, I have Native American Indian in me. I’d like to see people replace asphalt with concrete, because asphalt is dirty.”

By: Laura Keil