Wise Manitoba gov’t says no to Calgary’s Sio Silica (CanWhite Sands) frac sand extraction at Vivian after ousted PC’s reportedly tried to sneak in approval for the invasive, health-harming, aquifer-destroying project after losing the election.

Thank you Dennis LeNeveu!

2023: Participant Dennis LeNeveu Perspective on Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC)’s Recommendations for Vivian Sand Extraction Project by Sio Silica Corporation of Calgary (prev. CanWhite Sand)

Manitoba rejects Sio Silica sand mining project, saying risk ‘simply too great’, ‘Families can rest easy, knowing that your drinking water will stay pristine,’ Premier Wab Kinew says by Darren Bernhardt, Bartley Kives, Feb 16, 2024, CBC News

A proposal by Sio Silica to mine ultra-pure silica sand in southeastern Manitoba has been denied by the province, just two days after the NDP government approved a different silica mine near Lake Winnipeg.

The province has decided not to issue an environmental licence for the sand extraction project near Vivian, in the rural municipality of Springfield, Premier Wab Kinew and Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt announced Friday.

The decision was based on information and data provided by experts, including a report done by the Clean Environment Commission as well as consultation with impacted communities and First Nations, the province said in a news release.

The CEC report identified a number of serious environmental concerns about the project, which would have extracted sand through aquifers that provide drinking water to 100,000 Manitobans.

“This week our government said yes to CPS,” Premier Wab Kinew said, referring to the Canadian Premium Sand silica project approved on Wednesday. “Today, we are saying no to Sio.”

Standing at a podium with a sign on front saying “protect the water,” Kinew made the announcement at the community club in Anola, east of Winnipeg, where residents erupted in cheers at the news.

At public hearings over the past year, many residents raised concerns that the project could impact the quality of the drinking water aquifer and that carcinogens could be produced if silica sand becomes airborne.:

“Manitoba families can rest easy, knowing that your drinking water will stay pristine,” Kinew said.

Calgary-based Sio Silica hoped to drill up to 7,700 wells south and east of Winnipeg over the next 24 years to get the sand, which is used in the production of solar panels, semiconductors and new batteries.

The company planned to inject air to bring up a mixture of water and sand from the water table, which extends under a large swath of southeastern Manitoba and serves eight municipalities.

The project proposed shipping 1.36 million tonnes of silica sand to green energy and technology markets annually over the lifetime of the mines.

In a statement, Sio Silica CEO Feisal Somji said his company is disappointed with the decision, “especially in light of the fact that Sio was advised that the province had no more questions.”

Somji said Schmidt declined his requests for meetings and never shared  any concerns her office or her department may have had with the proposal.

He also said his company was not provided with advance notice of the decision.

The province invited opponents of the proposal to its announcement.

‘Unproven approach’ to extraction: Kinew

Kinew said Sio Silica proposed using a new method of extraction.

“With this unproven approach, we cannot guarantee the safety of drinking water for future generations in this part of Manitoba,” the premier said at Friday’s announcement.

“I want to be very clear: We are prepared to develop mining opportunities here in Manitoba, but it has to be done in the right way … that minimizes the risk to the health of humans and the safety of the environment. We can do both.

“The business case of this project does not outweigh the serious environmental risk this project poses.”

But Somji argues the rejection was a unilateral decision “based on Minister Schmidt’s opinion of the environmental concerns, and not based on feedback from the Environmental Approvals Branch, who had oversight and review of this application.”

He said a draft licence presented to Sio Silica in September 2023 called for  Sio to conduct testing, “rigourous data collection and a final report on findings” before commercial extraction.

The draft licence “was known to the current NDP government,” and the approach would have allowed Sio to “address any remaining environmental and technical concerns,” he said.

Somji also said the province has now effectively killed a proposal by German company RCT to develop a solar-panel manufacturing facility that would have relied on Sio Silica’s product.

Schmidt said graduated licensing was not considered because of the potential risks to the environment.

Environmental groups called the decision to reject the licence “an important victory for safe drinking water, for science and for common sense.”

“We commend Manitoba for listening to the community and to the scientific evidence,” Tangi Bell of Our Line in the Sand, a group of concerned citizens opposed to the mine, said in a news release.

Her group and the Manitoba Eco Network raised concerns about the project after it was first announced in 2020 and spoke against it during the Clean Environment Commission hearing last year.

“This project never made sense for the region or for Manitoba,” Glen Koroluk, Manitoba Eco-Network executive director, said in the release. “Today’s announcement confirms the importance of evidence-based decision-making.”

Open to reviewing future proposals: minister

Schmidt said at the news conference Friday that the government realizes silica is a valuable resource and would be open to working with experts and environmentalists to review any future proposals for the area around Vivian.

“We would certainly never rule out projects in the future, but this project, this proponent this time is a no,” she said. “There are simply too many unknowns, and the risk at stake is simply too great.”

On Wednesday, Kinew and Schmidt gave the go-ahead to Canadian Premium Sand, another Calgary-based company, to mine silica in Hollow Water First Nation, east of Lake Winnipeg, and create a solar glass production facility in Selkirk.

The mining and production facility are expected to bring in $2 billion in provincial taxes over a decade, or $200 million annually, and create hundreds of jobs.

CPS pursued the project for several years and received licensing approvals in 2019 and 2023, but faced delays and criticism over potential risks.

The NDP government did “months of careful review” of the CPS environmental licence, walking through every detail, and is confident that project is safe and environmentally responsible, Schmidt said Wednesday.

Comparing it to the Sio proposal, she said on Friday that “the two projects could not be more different. The only similarity is the resource being mined.”

The CPS project employs more traditional open-pit mining methods with no requirement to dig through aquifers. Sio’s method, where thousands of wells would be drilled through two aquifers to extract the sand, has never been done anywhere in the world, Schmidt said.

“There were many, many questions and unknowns raised by this project,” she said.

“No one knows what the long-term effects of this proposal would be and frankly, the worst-case scenarios would be absolutely devastating, as more than 100,000 Manitobans source their drinking water from these aquifers.”

‘This is a jubilation’: resident

Georgina and Joshua Mustard, who live next door to where the processing plant was set to be built, said they can rest easier with their worries lifted.

“This is a jubilation. I’m glad it’s over, you know, for now,” Joshua said. “Very happy, very happy.”

Georgina described the uncertainty over the past few years as “pretty rough,” before pausing as her eyes pooled with tears.

“A lot of sleepless nights wondering what our future looks like for our kids. But I’m glad it’s all over now and everything’s gonna be OK,” she said.

“The roots that we have planted are gonna be there for us and our kids and our grandkids.”

While the NDP government has shut the door on Sio Silica’s proposal, Kinew said Manitoba’s ethics commissioner will continue to examine claims made by him and two former PC cabinet ministers that the outgoing government attempted to approve the mining proposal following the election, which the Tories lost.

Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Wayne Ewasko declined to comment on that investigation.

Like Somji, he said he found it interesting Schmidt and Kinew announced the rejection — a decision he said should have been made by experts.

Somji said his company “remains hopeful that the government will be open to discussing solutions that are grounded in science and do not squander this multi-generational opportunity for the people of Manitoba.”

“In the meantime, Sio will take the coming weeks to evaluate its legal options in the face of the minister’s decision today,” he said.

Manitoba NDP files ethics complaints claiming outgoing PC government tried to push mining deal through, Premier, 2 former PC cabinet ministers alleged PCs improperly tried to get approval for silica mining project by CBC News, Jan 12, 2024

The Manitoba NDP’s caucus chair is filing two ethics complaints over allegations the former provincial government tried to ram through approval of an Alberta mining company’s sand-drilling proposal, days after the Progressive Conservatives lost the Oct. 3 provincial election.

Mike Moyes said he planned to formally lodge the complaints Friday with the legislative assembly’s ethics commissioner against former premier and current PC Leader Heather Stefanson, and Red River North MLA Jeff Wharton, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister.

“On Oct. 3, Manitobans sent a clear signal that they no longer trusted the former government. But even after this day, the PCs tried to make a major decision on behalf of the people who had voted them out,” Moyes said at a news conference, adding he intended to file the complaints immediately after speaking.

“Like you, we have many questions. And we believe Manitobans deserve answers. It’s time for MLAs Stefanson and Wharton to face Manitobans and own up for their actions.”

Moyes, who was elected in October as the MLA for Winnipeg’s Riel constituency, said he was filing the complaints to push the Manitoba Legislative Assembly’s ethics commissioner to independently investigate Stefanson and Wharton “for corruption, for putting their own interests ahead of Manitobans’ and violating the Conflict of Interest Act” over allegations surrounding the file regarding Alberta-based Sio Silica.

The company has proposed drilling as many as 7,200 wells in southeastern Manitoba over the next 24 years in an effort to extract up to 33 million tonnes of ultra-pure silica sand.

Manitoba PC Party spokesperson Matt Preprost said “no significant policy or political decisions were made following the election and were instead left for the incoming NDP government to consider.”

“The members in question will co-operate fully with any potential investigation by the ethics commissioner,” Preprost said in an emailed statement.

Alleged breach

The update comes weeks after CBC News reported both Premier Wab Kinew and former PC environment minister Kevin Klein alleged the former government tried to approve the proposal in breach of what’s known as the caretaker convention.

Under that convention, outgoing governments are supposed to only engage in urgent, routine, reversible or uncontroversial operations during the brief period between an election and the next government being sworn in.

Klein and former PC cabinet minister Rochelle Squires — both of whom lost their seats in the election — alleged Wharton called and asked them to approve the project in the time period after the election and before the new government took over.

Klein at the time was the government’s environment minister, and Squires was an acting environment minister.

While the NDP won Manitoba’s provincial election, the PCs continued to govern until Oct. 18, when Kinew was sworn in as premier.

But Wharton has denied those claims, saying he called the two departing MLAs simply to gather information about the planned Sio Silica mine to share with the incoming NDP government.

Squires, who first made her allegations in a column in the Winnipeg Free Press, also wrote in her column that Wharton told her the Sio Silica project was “of significant importance” to Stefanson, but that “because of a conflict, she herself couldn’t offer that directive.”

PC spokesperson Preprost later disputed that claim, saying in an emailed statement that Stefanson “has no conflict of interest with Sio Silica.” 

“The former premier respected due process in the transition phase and no licence was granted,” Preprost said.

Questions remain

When asked whether there was a particular section of Manitoba’s Conflict of Interest Act that Stefanson and Wharton are alleged to have broken, Moyes defined a conflict of interest as an MLA “exercising their official power in terms of improperly furthering a private member’s interest.” The NDP believes that’s what happened, he said.

He did not provide information regarding the allegations beyond what has been publicly reported on the topic and said he thinks the allegations made by the former PC cabinet ministers speak for themselves.

“We know what Manitobans know, and there’s a lot of questions in terms of the conduct of these two members,” Moyes said, adding that while Wharton has answered some questions about the allegations, Stefanson “has been very quiet.”

“We’re talking about a major file here, and … to just kind of sweep it under the rug would be a disservice to Manitobans.”

Moyes said the file is currently being reviewed by Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt, who is doing due diligence work with experts in that department “to make sure that were looking at all the different aspects of that file.”

Manitoba Legislative Assembly Ethics Commissioner Jeffrey Schnoor has previously said MLAs can ask him to investigate alleged breaches of that legislation, but he himself has no power to start an investigation. 

Any request for an investigation then has to be tabled in the assembly within the first five sitting days after the request is made, he said.

With files from Ian Froese

Former Manitoba premier denies accusation she tried to push mine approval by Steve Lambert, Jan 13, 2024, The Canadian Press in St Albert Gazette

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Heather Stefanson says she did not try to push through approval of a silica sand mine in the days following her election loss last Oct. 3

Stefanson also says she has no financial interest in the mine and no conflict of interest in the project, which remains a proposal.

The governing New Democrats have filed complaints with the provincial ethics commissioner against Stefanson and former Tory economic development minister Jeff Wharton.

They allege the two tried to rush approval of the Sio Silica mining project after the Tories lost the election and before the NDP were sworn in.

Stefanson says her government presented information on the project to the incoming NDP government, as all governments do on major files during the transition period.

But she says there was no attempt to get the project, which is still being reviewed, approved early.

“We brought it to the attention of (NDP Leader Wab Kinew) and the NDP,” Stefanson told reporters Saturday.

“They said they weren’t interested at the time in moving forward. End of story.”

Klein and Squires both say they refused.

Wharton has denied the accusation, and has said he was simply gathering information about the mining project to pass on to the incoming government.Pfffft. I don’t believe him. Gathering information? At the end of the game? Baloney.

Squires, in an opinion piece published in the Winnipeg Free Press, also said Wharton told her Stefanson wanted the project to proceed but couldn’t give the order herself because she was in a potential conflict of interest.

Wharton has denied that accusation as well. Stefanson said Saturday the accusation is not true.

“We did not issue the licence and I have no conflict of interest.”

Stefanson said she did discuss the mine with Klein, who was environment minister, and told him the project was not moving forward.

The New Democrats allege any attempt to push through the mining project after the election loss would violate a long-standing constitutional principle known as the caretaker convention, which forbids outgoing governments from making most major decisions during the transition period.

The ethics commissioner is being asked to investigate under the province’s conflict-of-interest act, which forbids legislature members from exercising “an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further their private interests or those of their family or to improperly further another person’s private interests.”

There are exceptions, however, such as activities normally carried out on behalf of constituents.

The Sio Silica project would create thousands of wells over 24 years across a large swath of southeastern Manitoba, although only an initial phase is being reviewed for approval now.

Manitoba’s environmental regulator, the Clean Environment Commission, recommended against any decision on the mining project in June, pending further study of the project’s impacts.

Premier claims former PC government tried to ram through silica mining approval days after Manitoba election, Former PC minister Kevin Klein corroborates Wab Kinew’s claim, which the Tories deny by Bartley Kives, CBC News, Dec 27, 2023

Premier Wab Kinew claims the former Progressive Conservative government tried to approve an Alberta mining company’s proposal to drill for sand in southeastern Manitoba days after the Tories lost the provincial election in October.They were such a nasty dirty lying polluter-serving gov’t, this is not surprising to me.

Former PC cabinet minister Kevin Klein corroborates Kinew’s allegation of an attempted breach of the caretaker convention, where outgoing governments are supposed to only engage in urgent, routine, reversible or uncontroversial operations during the brief period before the next government is sworn in.

But a fellow former PC cabinet minister, Jeff Wharton, denies Kinew and Klein’s claims. He insists his government respected the caretaker convention and merely briefed the NDP transition team about the status of the file regarding Alberta-based Sio Silica.

The NDP won Manitoba’s provincial election on Oct. 3. The PCs continued to govern until Oct. 18, when Kinew was sworn in as premier.

The Clean Environment Commission, Manitoba’s environmental regulator, recommended in June against any immediate decision about the project until more is known about the effects of removing that much sand from the Winnipeg sandstone aquifer, a source of drinking water for thousands. A second technical review of the project was underway.

“I was surprised on a Friday afternoon to understand that one of the first actions of our new government could potentially be the approval of this mine. They made the argument that it wasn’t up to us as an incoming government. Typical cons, only they have rights and or ruling power even after being voted out. We said we’re going to put a stop to that,” Kinew said in an interview last week.

“We said we’re an incoming government. We think that our future minister, who is not sworn in yet or even been announced publicly, should be the one to have a say, at least in this decision.”

Former Kirkfield Park MLA Klein, who served as environment and climate minister in the former PC government, said there was indeed an effort by the PCs to breach the caretaker convention.

But Klein said it was him, not the incoming NDP government, who put the brakes on approving the mining proposal.

Klein said Wharton, who served as the PC minister responsible for economic development and mining, asked Klein to sign off on the approval.

“I received a request to approve the project following the election. I strongly declined for three reasons,” Klein said last week in an interview.

“First, because we lost the election and it would have been inappropriate to approve something like this in the transitional period between governments. Second, because I had serious concerns with this project [and] third, I gave my word to residents that the decision would be made by experts.

“Now in saying that, I was extremely disappointed this was even proposed in the transition period.”Unfortunately, because he’s a con politico from an incredibly bad gov’t, I am unable to trust him or believe a word he says.

Klein said he backed up concerns voiced by provincial staff the proposal should not be approved at that time.

“My foremost duty is to the residents and not to succumb to pressure to make a decision that isn’t what I believe to be morally correct,” he said.I expect had the cons won the election, the project would have been quietly approved, especially if they had won a majority.

Wharton said in an interview he did not ask Klein to approve the proposal and denied any member of his government tried to approve the project during the transition period.

“This claim is false. Truly false. I ensure due process was followed,” Wharton said in an interview last week.Pffffft. This politico I for sure do not trust, and do not believe a word he says.

The Red River North MLA said a second technical review of the project and Indigenous consultations were underway as the election took place.

He said his government merely informed the NDP transition team that Sio Silica officials were curious to know about the timelines for approving their proposal.Ya sure. From your gov’t’s sleazy operations, I don’t believe ya buddy. I bet Sio Silica, you and your Con politico pals were conniving how to approve the project fast, after losing the election. I think the Cons were sure their lies would win the election, and Sio Silica would get their approval, no matter what voters said. After losing, the cons knew they had to work fast. There’s all that lucrative graft to be had, after all, and those wonderful promised board directorships. Sio Silica’s project ought to have been turned down, permanently, from day one – the lies and harms are too many, the risks too great, and the returns for Manitoba likely less than zero.

“It’s incumbent on us to ensure that we share that relevant information with the incoming government, which was done during the transition,” Wharton said.

“The caretaker convention was 100 per cent respected, needs to be, and certainly that’s the way our government conducted themselves. The incoming NDP government again was fully informed that the proponent — in this particular case Sio — sought clarity Such a pathetic story. I expect the company was demanding immediate approval after their enablers got voted out, no matter what convention(s) were/are breachedon timelines so that the government could make a licensing decision.

“So we got to the point where we handed the files over. We said ‘Here you go.’ “

Wharton said only politics can explain why Kinew and Klein, who campaigned strongly against each other during the provincial election, would both make similar allegations.

“My focus is always ensuring that we’re creating economic development and jobs and a sustainable economy for Manitobans,” he said. Blablablabla Baloney, I say.“That was my focus when I was outgoing and I continued to ensure that those files and that process, hopefully, would move on to the new government.”

Kinew said the PC effort to push through approval for the Sio Silica proposal has led his government to apply more scrutiny to Sio Silica’s proposal.

“What that means in brass tacks, what that means in practice, is it has caused us to question the legwork that was done on the Sio project: the economic rationale, the environmental approval, the work that was done around consultation with Indigenous nations. We are revisiting all that,” the premier said.A wise gov’t would say no to Sio Silica. Full Stop.

Officials with Sio Silica did not respond to requests for comment last week.

Kinew nonetheless insisted the NDP government wants to support the critical minerals sector in Manitoba. High-quality silica is one those minerals because it is sought by producers of solar panels, new batteries and semiconductors.It appears that the sand Sio Silica wants to mine in Manitoba is destined for frac’ing. It’s not pure enough for solar panels, no matter what promises and tall tales con politicos and the company spew forth

“I think there’s a real case to be made that Manitoba has critical minerals like silica that can be brought to market with higher environmental standards, higher labour standards and respect for human rights, than almost any other jurisdiction in the world,” Kinew said.

“So we’re very interested in a project like Sio that could potentially drive economic development and help with greenhouse-gas emissions. But the way that the previous government tried to ram this through has caused us to take a step back and ask a lot of questions about the legwork leading up to a potential approval.”Good. It’s a bad project. Say no.

During the election, former NDP environment critic Lisa Naylor skirted questions about whether or not an NDP government would approve the Sio Silica proposal.In my experience, NDP are usually just as dirty as con gov’ts in Canada. They are big pollution enablers, especially in BC and Alberta, and help companies operate above the law, and lie as nastily as the cons. It would be truly refreshing to see an NDP gov’t that serves Manitobans honestly, and carefully scrutinizes and turns down bad projects like Sio Silica’s.

The file is now handled by Tracy Schmidt, the NDP minister of environment and climate change. 

A few of the comments:

Con Broithe:

I previously lived in that beautiful but fragile ecosystem just east of Winnipeg. It is home to families on farms and acreages with their own pure wells and backyards for children to play or walk in the woods. Burr oaks and poplars grow there. Many birds and animals too. Black bears eat the acorns under the oaks in harmony with nearby homes. Listening to coyotes at night. Why should we want to destroy such a treasure?Because so far, destroying all that is good and beautiful on earth, and needed to sustain life, such as safe air and drinking water, is what humanity lusts after. I’ll never understand our species’ insatiable drive to destroy all that which is needed to keep earth livable.

Mark Shore:

Nickel, copper, zinc, gold, wheat, beef, etc.

It doesn’t need to collect pennies in royalties from ruining aquifers for fracking sand in another province.

Prosperity? Just how much in royalties would the province have collected from this low-value product? And landowners don’t have mineral rights and would receive nothing.

Joe Sewell:

Given the geology of the area, and the direction of ground water migration, a good many properties and farm operations would, and are at great risk to the aquifers they all depend on.

Once the agricultural value is destroyed, and the area is littered with sinkholes, what then?

Richard Swain:

Sadly, this will be approved, after more ”review” since the environment has never been a priority of the NDP- the party that initiated hog factories here. Now Manitoba is the only province where agriculture is the main cause of pollution.

John Charlton:

So the out going Conservatives tried to slip one past,

Is anyone surprised ? …

Norm Head:

It sounds like someone took a bribe and needed to get it done before the NDP got in.

Stephen Hay:

Solar Panel versus potable water, most would suspect water to win.

Jack Butler:

The question should be which politician was going to gain? Someone promised a seat on the board of directors maybe?

Frank Blacklock:

Looks like these mine operators will have to grease some more palms.

John Steele:

The NDP opposes politicians giving away assets owned by residents to friendly corporate donors without proper benefit to Manitobans

Tories defend prep work on silica sand mine application by Danielle Da Silva, Dec. 22, 2023, The Free Press

The Progressive Conservatives are defending the review of a proposed silica sand mine in southeastern Manitoba, after Premier Wab Kinew expressed skepticism with the former government’s work on the file.

The NDP government is currently taking a second look at Sio Silica’s application for a environmental licence to mine in the Rural Municipality of Springfield, Kinew said in an interview with the Free Press this week.

The premier said the application was set to receive governmental approval during the transition of power following the Oct. 3 election and prior to the NDP being sworn-in Oct. 18.

However, the NDP requested the government hold off on a decision, Kinew said. He argued the circumstances have created “some skepticism about the leg work leading up to a potential approval.”

In a statement Friday, a spokesperson for the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba said the review was rigorous.Roaring laughter. Rigorous alright. Rigorous lies and polluter-enabling bullshit.

“Prior to the election, the previous PC government undertook a thorough review of the Sio Silica proposal through the Clean Environment Commission, and extended its due diligence with a technical review of the CEC’s report and further Indigenous consultations,” the spokesperson said.More hogwash. Read Vivian Silica Sands, Manitoba Canada Page and the submissions and reports included on it. “Thorough” review is the opposite of what the MB con gov’t did.

The now-Opposition Tories did not say whether an approval was being considered during the transition period between governments.That’s because the polluter enabling gov’t didn’t need to, their approval and stabs in the back of the harmed families was a given.

In cabinet-parliamentary systems, there is a convention a governing party will refrain from making major decisions that cannot be easily reversed either during the campaign period or during the two-week transition when governments change hands.

“As is standard practice, the incoming NDP government was presented with relevant information on emerging issues and key files requiring a decision across all departments during the transition in October,” the PC spokesperson said.

“It’s incumbent on the NDP to tell Manitobans and the proponent whether or not they’ll be licensing this project.”No, it’s not. The punted PCs are bullying the new gov’t. The PCs are trying to run the show even after voters kicked them out on their cruel lying racist rapist-enabling asses. It’s incumbent on the NDP to govern how they choose to govern, and proceed how they choose to proceed.

The Kinew government has not made a decision about the Sio Silica proposal.


Former ***Weatherford*** CEO’s SPAC Pyrophyte to take Sio Silica public with $758M equity value by Jishnu Nair, Houston Business Journal, Nov 27, 2023

Pyrophyte Leaders: Sten Gustafson, CEO of Pyrophyte (left) and Bernard Duroc-Danner, chairman of Pyrophyte.

Houston-based Pyrophyte Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: PHYT) — led by Sten Gustafson and Bernard Duroc-Danner — and Canada-based Sio Silica Corp. reached a merger deal amid a tough environment for special purpose acquisition companies. Here’s how they did it.

Sio Silica Corporation to Go Public via Business Combination With Pyrophyte Acquisition Corp., Accelerating Mission to Disrupt the Market for High-Purity Quartz Silica, a Critical Mineral in the World’s Transition to Net Zero Press Release by Sio Silica, Nov 13, 2023, Business Wire

  • Proceeds from the Business Combination Expected to Accelerate Sio’s Entrance No experience? into the High-Purity Crystalline Quartz Market and Its Mission Toward Becoming an Environmentally Friendly, Low Cost, Canadian-Based Producer of High-Purity Quartz Silica
  • Sio’s High-Purity Quartz Silica is an Essential Element for Photovoltaics, Solar Panels, Semiconductors, Batteries and Other Green Technologies Expected to Help Achieve Global Net Zero Targets“Net Zero” is impossible, it’s propaganda to enable polluters to keep polluting. It’s an unimaginative con.
  • Sio’s Sustainable There is nothing sustainable about destroying drinking water aquifers, or forcing communities and families to breath deadly silica dustOperations, Cutting-Edge Technologies and Low-Cost Advantage are Expected to Make Considerable Inroads to Contribute to a Decarbonized FutureCouldn’t they boast louder and cram more fantasy words in this phony green advertisement?
  • Approximately $150 Million of Gross Capital, Comprised of Equity, Debt, Royalties and Sio’s Cash on Hand, has been Secured from a Variety of Institutional and Individual Accredited Investors, including Riverstone Credit Partners, HITE Hedge Asset Management and a Large Canadian Pension Fund, and an Additional $10 Million Is Expected dream dream dream to be Secured Through Flow-Through Equity from a Variety of Individual Accredited Investors, to Support the Construction of the First Phase of its Extraction and Processing Facility.
  • Terms of the Business Combination Imply an Enterprise Value of $708 Million and Equity Value of $758 Million for the Combined Company
  • Valuation Represents an ~80% Discount to a ~$3.9 Billion Net Present Value Estimated by Stantec Inc. (TSX, NYSE: STN) (“Stantec”) Based on a Portion of the ~146 Million Tonnes of High-Purity but reportedly not high enough for solar Quartz Silica Measured & Indicated Resources and ~345 Million Tonnes of High-Purity Quartz Silica Inferred Resources

CALGARY, Alberta & HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sio Silica Corporation (“Sio” or the “Company”), a Canadian-based company that seeks to become a global leader in the production and supply of environmentally and ethically produced high-purity quartz silica, and Pyrophyte Acquisition Corp. (“Pyrophyte”) (NYSE: PHYT), a special purpose acquisition company, announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement (the “Business Combination Agreement”) for a business combination (the “Business Combination”). The terms of the Business Combination reflect an implied enterprise value of $708 million and equity value of $758 million for the combined company, an approximate 80% discount to the net present value described above and includes approximately $150 million of gross capital including equity, debt, royalties and Sio’s cash on hand and additional $10 million expected flow-through equity from a variety of institutional and individual accredited investors. Following the closing (the “Closing”) of the Business Combination, such proceeds are expected to be used to fully fund the construction of the first phase of Sio’s extraction and processing facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Upon Closing, the name of the combined company will be Sio Silica Incorporated, and its common shares and warrants are expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the tickers “SIOS” and “SIOS WS,” respectively. Unless otherwise specified, all amounts in this press release are in U.S. dollars.

“We are excited to partner with Pyrophyte to become a leading producer of high-purity quartz silica”

Company Overview

Sio has approximately 15.2 billion tonnes of in situ high-purity silica including an estimated ~146 million tonne measured and indicated resource and an estimated ~345 million tonne inferred resource and intends to initiate a mining plan that ensures a comprehensive and active environmental stewardship over the years to come.

Once the processing facility becomes operational, Sio expects to become a leading environmentally friendly producer of high-purity quartz silica, a unique natural resource and critical mineral.Seems to me Sio Silica is here admitting it will continue in its harmful ways and does not expect to be environmentally friendly before the facility is operational. Water wells have already been reported damaged by the company’s crude and rude experiments in MB. Piles of the company’s harmful silica sand were already blowing in the wind, invading lungs of families, pets, livestock, and wildlife. In my professional opinion, you do not want to be a neighbour of this company and if you are a regulator, you are wise to say no to it.

Sio plans to leverage its patent-pending extraction process using proven OMG! Liar Liar … pants on fire! Like all frac’ing processes, it’s a crude, invasive, water and air harming brutal experiment that is not at all proven technology to extract and process silica that exceeds 99.9% purityIn my read of the project filings, Sio Silica has not proven such purity, providing a significant cost advantage gotta lure in investors via greedwithin its industry. Sio’s extraction method will not require truck traffic, surface mining, tunneling, dust generation, or chemical cleansing.Such bullshit! Of course there will be masses of diesel-fuming truck traffic, harmful silica sand and dust blowing in the community’s air (there already has been!), and there will be many related well drilling surface impacts, notably to families living there, and to groundwater. Sio Silica may not be “intending” to destroy the surface of their mining area, but they sure as hell will be destroying the subsurface, which will in time, cause surface harms some likely significant and dangerous.In combination with its extraction and processing facility using renewable electricity, natural gas, and efficient processing, Sio expects to make considerable inroads to contribute to a low carbon future.Ya, and when the sand extracted is determined to be totally useless for solar panels, etc, and is instead mass shipped to frac sites across SK, AB and BC, there will be one hell of a lot more diesel fumes, and blowing sand and dust. Natural gas can never be low carbon, it is vented and leaks far too much to ever been clean, green or safe. How will the renewable electricity get to the many thousands of wells needed to pull up the sand? The facility? Where is the renewable electricity coming from? Who pays for it? The citizenry?Anticipated applications for Sio’s high-purity but not high enoughquartz silica include photovoltaics, solar panels, semiconductors, electronics and batteries.I expect the company has frac’ers like brute law-violator Encana/Ovintiv lined up to buy the sand. Frac’ers are going through frac sand like people with COVID go through tissue

Global decarbonization drivers, regulatory changes, energy transition, and major anticipated semiconductor investments in North America are all expected to be significant catalysts driving demand and creating a robust long-term growth outlook for Sio’s high-puritythe company’s embarrassing repeating of their dubious adjectives for silica sand lead me to believe they know it’s not high quality and they know they are intending to supply it to frac’ers. In my experience, guilty judges, lawyers, companies, regulators, politicos do this when they are intentionally pulling a con on the public and or investorsquartz silica products. Sio intends to use proceeds from the transaction to complete the construction of Phase 1 of its facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which it expects to complete less than 18 months after Closing. Based on signed and pending customer agreements, all production at Phase 1 is expected to be fully contracted.

Sio Investment Highlights:

  • Expects to become a leader in the rapidly expanding high-purity quartz silica industry with no current plans to rely on government subsidies.Roaring laughter! What a shit show press release, about as high purity as a Harlequin Romance.
  • High-purity quartz silica currently represents a $30 billion total addressable market by 2030 for photovoltaics, solar panels, semiconductors and batteries.
  • With 146 million tonne measured and indicated resource and 345 million tonne inferred resource, Sio’s development plan has a multi-generational resource life.
  • Net Present Value of ~$3.9 billion according to engineering estimates from StantecI wouldn’t trust work by Stantec if you paid me to, based on sustainable mining practices and only a portion of available resources being mined over a 25-year mine life.
  • With approximately $150 million of gross capital and additional $10 million expected flow-through equity, Sio anticipates to be fully funded and fully permitted by government authorities at Closing to complete Phase 1 of its production facility.
  • Strong demand for high-purity quartz silica with 100% of Phase 1 of its production facility fully allocated under signed and pending offtake agreements/MOUs and marketing agreements.
  • Significant cost advantage through efficient mining, extraction, processing and energy utilization to achieve quartz silica purity that exceeds 99.9%.
  • Location of production facility creates logistical and rail advantages with easy access to ports on both coastsEmbellish much?and closer than competitors to several important markets Because Sio Silica’s product is frac sand?within North America.
  • Low capital intensity and robust operating economics In my professional experience, this usually means poor health and safety practices for workers and community as has already been proven by Sio Silica for this project, and dire risks to environment and groundwater are expected to deliver attractive returns to all stakeholders.
  • As published in its annual sustainability reports, Sio strives If a company is a leader, they don’t need to claim to strive to be oneto be an ESG leader in the industry with what is expected to be one of the world’s most environmentally friendly liar liar liar liar silica mining operations, given no harmful chemical wash process, no tailings pond, no open pit and no silica dust concerns from mining operations.

Silica Dust/Sand Reality Check:

2012: No official safe limits on airborne silica dust

2021: Silica Dust is Deadly. Don’t let CanWhiteSands, any sand miner, frac’er or their enabling “regulators” tell you otherwise

2021: Sio Silica (when it was CanWhite Sands) exposed pile of dangerous sand blowing into family homes and farms, and community, and into worker lungs

2021: Sio Silica’s health-harming, disrespectful, environment polluting, messy way of doing business

2021: More uncovered harmful Sio Silica sand piles. No wonder they changed their name from CanWhite Sands to Sio Silica

2021: More Sio Silica health-harming impacts and rude mess

End Silica Dust/Sand Reality Check

  • Highly experienced leadership team and a board of directors with a proven record of creating shareholder value.


“We are excited to partner with Pyrophyte to become a leading producer of high-purity quartz silica,” said Feisal Somji, Chief Executive Officer of Sio. “Our streamlined approach to creating environmentally responsible solutions has attracted high profile strategic alliances, which puts us at an important inflection point in our growth trajectory. These solutions follow the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission’s recommendations, and the Company is working with the Province of Manitoba to finalize an extraction license that will exemplify the commitment and practices of the Company to be a leader in environmental protection. We will continue to work with the Province of Manitoba and its stakeholders to put the Province on the global stage as a major contributor to achieving global net zero targets through decarbonization initiatives that require high-purity silica. The combination of being fully funded and fully permitted is expected to fuel the next phase of our expansion in high-purity quartz silica extraction and processing. We believe that our combination with Pyrophyte will allow us to scale our production to meet strong customer demand and expand our high-purity quartz silica products to a wide range of applications, such as solar panels, semiconductors, and lithium-silicon batteries, with a long runway for profitable growth in the years ahead. We believe that this Business Combination will put Sio in a position to execute further on our strategic priorities and to support our growth over the long-term.”

Chairman of Pyrophyte, Dr. Bernard J. Duroc-Danner, said, “Sio’s extensive high-purity quartz silica deposit just south of Winnipeg Manitoba is a remarkable gift of nature. Based on Stantec’s report, the deposit is very large and exceptionally consistent throughout. The silica ore comes out at naturally occurring high-purity levels with very low levels of contaminants. The deposit is very shallow allowing for a production process which is exceptionally simple, very low cost and environmentally low impact. The beneficiation needs are minimal, consisting of just a magnetic separation process and washing. No chemicals are required in the entire extraction and beneficiation processes while reclamation postproduction is immediate. We believe that Sio’s supply of high-purity quartz silica will benefit from very strong secular demand growth trends in North America and worldwide. Located next to extensive railroad infrastructure, the deposit is ideally located for ease of railway transportation to the West, South and East. Once operational, we expect Sio’s facility to combine an ideal transportation location, very low ore production costs, strong secular growth trends in demand and low-impact environmental footprint. We searched long and hard for the right candidate to combine with Pyrophyte and its energy transition mission. Sio fulfilled all our criteria. We are proud to join Sio on its journey to supply what is becoming in many countries around the world one of the most important strategic minerals for the world’s energy transition.”

Christopher Abbate, Co-Head of Riverstone Credit Partners, noted, “We are excited to support Sio in its mission to deliver this critical mineral that is required by a number of key growth areas, from semiconductors to several key industries driving decarbonization, among others. As we evaluated the opportunity, we were particularly drawn to its vast, high-quality resource, with its low-cost development, guided by a high-quality management team that can draw upon the considerable experience from the Pyrophyte team in growing companies. We look forward to the bright future ahead.”

Transaction Summary

The terms of the Business Combination imply an enterprise value of $708 million and equity value of $758 million for the combined company. Approximately $150 million of gross capital, comprised of equity, debt, royalties and Sio’s cash on hand, has been secured from a variety of institutional and individual accredited investors, including a credit facility provided by Riverstone Credit Partners, and other financing from HITE Hedge Asset Management and a large Canadian pension fund, and an additional $10 million is expected to be secured from flow-through equity from a variety of individual accredited investors, to support the construction of the first phase of its extraction and processing facility. Availability under the credit facility with Riverstone Credit Partners is subject to certain conditions. In an effort to further strengthen its capital base and reduce debt levels, Sio and Pyrophyte may raise additional equity capital through incremental PIPE investments along with the potential contribution of up to approximately $97 million of cash currently held in Pyrophyte’s trust account, subject to redemptions by Pyrophyte shareholders that have not entered into non-redemption agreements.

The Business Combination, which has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of Sio and Pyrophyte, is subject to approval by Pyrophyte’s and Sio’s shareholders and other customary closing conditions. CEO Feisal Somji will continue to lead Sio, supported by a team of experienced operators. Pyrophyte’s leadership team will actively introduce key relationships to help accelerate Sio’s growth.


BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. is acting as exclusive Financial Advisor to Sio. UBS Securities LLC is acting as capital markets advisor to Pyrophyte. Integral Wealth Securities Limited acted as Sio’s exclusive financial advisor in procuring and negotiating royalty financing, and, as an advisor to Sio in respect of the business combination agreement. BMO Capital Markets Corp., UBS Securities LLC and Integral Wealth Securities Limited are acting as joint placement agents on the PIPE. DLA Piper (Canada) LLP and DLA Piper (US) are acting as legal advisors to Sio. White & Case LLP is acting as legal advisor to Pyrophyte. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal advisor to BMO Capital Markets Corp. and UBS Securities LLC.

About Sio Silica

Sio Silica is a Canadian-based high-purity quartz silica producer committed to offering superior products and practicing sustainable development. The Company’s extraction of silica will not require truck traffic, surface mining, tunneling, dust generation or chemical cleansing. Combined with its facility using renewable electricity, natural gas, and efficient processing, Sio Silica expects to contribute to a low-carbon future.

About Pyrophyte Acquisition Corp.

Pyrophyte Acquisition Corp. is a blank check company whose business purpose is to effect a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, share purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses or entities. Pyrophyte is primarily focused on target companies that serve the growing segments in the energy transition ecosystem. For more information, please visit https://www.pyrophytespac.com

Additional Information about the Business Combination and Where to Find It

In connection with the Business Combination, Sio Silica Incorporated, a newly-formed Alberta corporation formed solely for the purpose of engaging in the Business Combination (“Pubco”) intends to file a registration statement on Form F-4 (the “Registration Statement”) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), which will include a preliminary proxy statement of Pyrophyte and a preliminary prospectus of Pubco, and after the Registration Statement is declared effective, Pyrophyte will mail the definitive proxy statement/prospectus relating to the Business Combination to Pyrophyte’s shareholders as of a record date to be established for voting on the Business Combination. The Registration Statement, including the proxy statement/prospectus contained therein, will contain important information about the Business Combination and the other matters to be voted upon at Pyrophyte’s meeting of shareholders convened to approve the Business Combination (the “Pyrophyte Shareholders Meeting”). This communication does not contain all the information that should be considered concerning the Business Combination and other matters and is not intended to provide the basis for any investment decision or any other decision in respect of such matters. Pyrophyte and Pubco may also file other documents with the SEC regarding the Business Combination. Pyrophyte’s shareholders and other interested persons are advised to read, when available, the Registration Statement, including the preliminary proxy statement/prospectus contained therein, and the amendments thereto and the definitive proxy statement/prospectus and other documents filed in connection with the Business Combination, as these materials will contain important information about Pyrophyte, Sio, Pubco and the Business Combination.

Pyrophyte’s shareholders and other interested persons will be able to obtain copies of the Registration Statement, including the preliminary proxy statement/prospectus contained therein, the definitive proxy statement/prospectus and other documents filed or that will be filed with the SEC, free of charge, by Pyrophyte and Pubco through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov.

Technical Information

Keith Wilson, P. Eng., a consulting engineer, is a Qualified Person as defined by S-K 1300 and NI 43-101 and has reviewed, approved and verified the scientific and technical information in this press release.

The technical report summaries for the Company’s BRU and DEN Properties, supporting the mineral resources included in this release, are expected to be filed under Sio’s profile on SEDAR+, which is available through the website maintained by the Canadian Securities Administrators at www.sedar.com, as well as by Sio and Pyrophyte on the SEC’s EDGAR system, which is available through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov. The technical report summaries, authored by Stantec Consulting Ltd., have been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the SEC S-K 1300 Regulation. The qualified persons involved in the preparation of the technical and scientific disclosure included in this press release, and the related technical report summaries, have followed industry accepted practices for verifying that the data used is suitable for the purposes used. For readers to fully understand the technical information in this press release they should read these technical reports in their entirety when they are available on SEDAR+ and EDGAR, including all qualifications, assumptions, exclusions, and risks that relate to the technical and scientific information set out in the summaries. The technical report summaries are intended to be read as a whole and sections should not be read or relied upon out of context.

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements made in this press release are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements that refer to projections, forecasts or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intends,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “possible,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “seek,” “should,” “target,” “would” and similar expressions may identify forward-looking statements, but the absence of these words does not mean that a statement is not forward-looking. Forward-looking statements may include, for example, statements about the Pyrophyte or Sio’s ability to effectuate the Business Combination discussed in this document; the benefits of the Business Combination; the future financial performance of Pubco following the Business Combination; changes in Sio’s strategy, future operations, financial position, estimated revenues and losses, projected costs, prospects, plans and objectives of management. These forward-looking statements are based on information available as of the date of this document, and current expectations, forecasts and assumptions, and involve a number of judgments, risks and uncertainties. Accordingly, forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing Pyrophyte, Sio or Pubco’s views as of any subsequent date, and none of Pyrophyte, Sio or Pubco undertakes any obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date they were made, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required under applicable securities laws.

Neither Pubco nor Pyrophyte gives any assurance that either Pubco or Pyrophyte will achieve its expectations.

You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. As a result of a number of known and unknown risks and uncertainties, Pubco’s actual results or performance may be materially different from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Some factors that could cause actual results to differ include: (i) the timing to complete the Business Combination by Pyrophyte’s business combination deadline and the potential failure to obtain an extension of the business combination deadline if sought by Pyrophyte; (ii) the occurrence of any event, change or other circumstances that could give rise to the termination of the definitive agreements relating to the Business Combination; (iii) the outcome of any legal, regulatory or governmental proceedings that may be instituted against Pubco, Pyrophyte, Sio or any investigation or inquiry following announcement of the Business Combination, including in connection with the Business Combination; (iv) the inability to complete the Business Combination due to the failure to obtain approval of Pyrophyte’s or Sio’s shareholders; (v) Sio’s and Pubco’s success in retaining or recruiting, or changes required in, its officers, key employees or directors following the Business Combination; (vi) the ability of the parties to obtain the listing of Pubco’s common shares and warrants on a national securities exchange upon the Closing; (vii) the risk that the Business Combination disrupts current plans and operations of Sio; (viii) the ability to recognize the anticipated benefits of the Business Combination; (ix) unexpected costs related to the Business Combination; (x) the amount of redemptions by Pyrophyte’s public shareholders at the Pyrophyte Shareholders Meeting being greater than expected; (xi) the management and board composition of Pubco following completion of the Business Combination; (xii) limited liquidity and trading of Pubco’s securities; (xiii) geopolitical risk and changes in applicable laws or regulations; (xiv) the possibility that Sio or Pyrophyte may be adversely affected by other economic, business, and/or competitive factors; (xv) changes in mineral resource estimates and operational risks; (xvi) litigation and regulatory enforcement risks, including the diversion of management time and attention and the additional costs and demands on Sio’s resources; (xvii) the risk that the consummation of the Business Combination is substantially delayed or does not occur; and (xix) other risks and uncertainties indicated from time to time in the Registration Statement to be filed by Pubco, including those under “Risk Factors” therein, and in Pyrophyte’s filings with the SEC.

Participants in Solicitation

Pyrophyte, Sio, Pubco and their respective directors and officers may be deemed participants in the solicitation of proxies of Pyrophyte’s shareholders in connection with the Business Combination. More detailed information regarding the directors and officers of Pyrophyte, and a description of their interests in Pyrophyte, is contained in Pyrophyte’s filings with the SEC, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, which was filed with the SEC on April 12, 2023, and is available free of charge at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Information regarding the persons who may, under SEC rules, be deemed participants in the solicitation of proxies of Pyrophyte’s shareholders in connection with the proposed Business Combination and other matters to be voted upon at Pyrophyte Shareholders Meeting will be set forth in the Registration Statement when available.


No Offer or Solicitation

This communication relates to the Business Combination between Sio and Pyrophyte. This document does not constitute a solicitation of a proxy, consent or authorization with respect to any securities or in respect of the Business Combination. This document does not constitute an offer to sell or exchange, or the solicitation of an offer to buy or exchange, any securities, nor shall there be any offer, sale or exchange of securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, sale or exchange would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. No offering of securities will be made except by means of a prospectus meeting the requirements of Section 10 of the Securities Act or an exemption therefrom.


Investor and Media
Rodny Nacier / Brad Cray, ICR Inc.
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Refer also to:

2023: MUST READ: Participant Dennis LeNeveu Perspective on Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (CEC)’s Recommendations for Vivian Sand Extraction Project by Sio Silica Corporation of Calgary (prev. CanWhite Sands)

The RTC and Sio are after grant money from the taxpayer (us).

The MOU states “This new plant will have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world”

This plant is not viable. These guys will stick the government (and investor) money in their pockets and run leaving a huge mess behind.

Vivian Silica Sands, Manitoba Canada Page.

2021: U.S. Supreme Court turns down petition by Minnesota Sands LLC seeking to overturn Winona county’s ordinance banning the mining of frac sand.

2020: Minnesota Supreme Court upholds Winona County ban on frac sand mining, disagreeing with a local company that the 2016 ban infringed on their constituional rights. Bravo to Winona County Board for their courage, integrity, ethics and stamina!

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