Two tons of raw perlite have been successfully expanded in a commercial production furnace to produce horticultural grade perlite suitable for the cannabis industry.
In addition, 100 tons of pozzolan has been ground in a commercial scale production mill and tested positive for compliance with industry standards for natural pozzolan.
More perlite at NewPerl
About 85 kilometres away from CS, the group has also discovered extensive areas of perlite at its NewPerl project.
It has now staked an additional 40 claims, which has more than trebled the size of the project claim area.
The firm has taken some additional samples from the new discovery areas which it has sent to a lab in Greece for characterisation and testing for horticultural-grade perlite.
Earlier samples tested positive for horticultural-grade perlite – meaning it can be added to soil to prevent compaction – with Sunrise executive chairman Patrick Cheetham saying the latest ones “appear to be similar”.
Demand growing for pozzolan and perlite
Natural pozzolans were used in building as far back as Roman times but are enjoying a revival as they are seen as more environmentally friendly than modern alternatives.
Portland cement, commonly used in cement and concrete mixes, for example, is responsible for 5% of global man-made carbon dioxide emissions.
Portland cement manufacturers in the US have also traditionally used fly ash from coal-fired power stations as a key ingredient.
But as US coal-fired power stations are closed on environmental grounds, half have gone since 2010, natural pozzolan producers have seen demand start to rise again.
“Cement companies and fly ash suppliers are already grappling with shortages of key raw materials, which is set to increase further given that largest supplier to western markets, the coal-fired Navajo Power Station in Arizona is scheduled to close 2019,” said City broker Northland Capital in a note.
Perlite, an industrial mineral often used in horticulture to stop soil compacting, is also enjoying an uptick in demand as a result of the burgeoning cannabis industry, particularly since the legalisation of recreational use in Canada in October.
“The perlite market in North America continues to be strong as industrial-scale cannabis growers build-out major new capacity following Canadian legalization and the relaxation of legislation within a growing number of US states,” Northland said, adding that the discoveries at NewPerl could potentially offer synergies that would add value to SunRise's core CS project.
With shares trading at around 0.16p, Sunrise carries a market cap of about £4mln.