BEDB to conduct silica sand study

A Japanese consultant guides a Makhota Crystal employee through the glassblowing process in this June 24, 2009 file photo. Glass is a common end-product of silica sand. Picture: BT file

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

THE Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) is set to bring in a consultant to conduct a study on Brunei's silica sand resources, officials said yesterday.

Chief Executive Officer of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) Vincent Cheong said yesterday that the BEDB will be opening up a tender for consultancy services for the study, which will eventually lead to a request for proposal for the development of silica-based industries in Brunei.

Cheong said the study will determine the size of Brunei's silica sand deposits, its characteristics and what materials or products can be derived from it.

The CEO also said that the project had already gained the approval of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

It is believed that Brunei has the potential to create a silica sand industry, where the end-product can be used for the manufacturing of glass and other high-tech products.

"No doubt, glass is one of them. But we're not sure whether silicon wafers can be manufactured from it as that is dependent on the characteristics of the sand," said the BEDB CEO yesterday during a talk organised by the French Brunei Business Association (FBBA) at the Orchid Garden Hotel in Kg Anggerek Desa.

Silicon wafers are commonly used in the electronics industry. A wafer refers to a thin slice of semiconductor material used in the fabrication circuits or micro-devices.

"At the end of the consultancy, we want a proposal that will include value-adding industries for investors based on the characteristics of the sand," he said, adding that the tender process will commence before the year's end.

Brunei's silica sand has drawn some interest from investors. In June 2010, a discussion between Russian and Bruneian government officials in Moscow touched on Russia's interest in a joint-venture for silica production.

Victor A Seleznev, ambassador of Russia to Brunei, said in a previous report that the joint venture would be based in the Sultanate and discussions were under way with Brunei government agencies for the proposal of a silica plant in the country.

Seleznev added that silica is "very much used worldwide" in many types of industrial production, such as industrial rubber goods, varnish, adhesives and sealants to name a few.

Russia's proposal was to construct a test plant in Brunei capable of producing 200 tonnes of silica annually before establishing a larger plant within three to five years.

BEDB last year said that the Sultanate has an estimated reserve of 16.25 million metric tonnes of silica sand, most of which are located on a fragmented eight-kilometre stretch in Tutong district.

During the presentation to about 100 FBBA members yesterday, Cheong also updated attendees on the integrated marine supply base (IMSB) proposed for Pulau Muara Besar, the Telisai-Lumut Highway, and the helicopter simulator training facility, a joint-venture between Canadian firm CAE and the Ministry of Finance.

The Brunei Times


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