uMhlali River

History of our Silica Source

uMhlali means “Monkey Orange Tree”, named after a tree that used to grow close to the riverbanks of the uMhlali River. The monkeys would feast off of the fruit on these trees and due to this it got its name. Another meaning of the name is “place of waiting” as the settlers and locals had to wait along the banks when they wanted to travel north. 


In 1846, Mr. Edmond Morewood was granted a large farm near uMhlali, which he called "Compensation", and where he practiced the first commercial sugar cane growing. With his sugar venture under way, and cane growing better than expected, other European immigrants from England and Scotland began to arrive and obtain land between Durban and the uMhlali River.


For 150 years the true potential of the natural resource on the farm has not been noticed. Torrential rain fall onto ploughed farm lands has continuously washed down this resource from the surrounding hills, filling the river beds each time. With the proper extraction of the silica deposits the river and embankments could be restored to their original state. 


  • Silica sand under DC electric field absorbs positive ions, and is therefore used in permeable pavement blocks for road water purification in urban areas. Thus protecting our ground water from pollution.
  • Toothpaste can contain 50% of silica abrasives.
  • You can help by recycling your glass!


 Founded By

Spec Sands was founded by Alberto Mattioda and Marc de Charmoy, in 2009. This partnership has established a solid company of expertise from relative fields. Their dedication and attitude employs everyone around them.


Their intriguing view and general knowledge led them to gather sand from the river bank on their cane farm, named Kingdom, to be examined. This resulted in their first order to supply silica sand by the tanker load.


They gathered second hand parts and equipment from their working surroundings, and began inventing their method of extraction and drying at a quarter of the cost to buying. A few months later that order of sand was delivered to the customers' satisfaction and disbelief.


Since then they have not stopped developing their effective, economic and eco-friendly production process. From selling a single product, they are able to specify products of all ranges for their customers, with little to no waste. They are continuously sharing their gained knowledge to guide others in the industry.

Production Props to the Environment

  • Our wash plants and stockpiles for drying have been engineered to flow water back into the river once drained from the sand.
  • The burners used to dry the sand have strict temperature control and insulation installed, to reduce emissions. There are cyclones installed on each burner, ensuring there is no dust released.
  • Because our product is an uncrushed alluvial silica sand, there is no danger of silicosis.
  •  We are proudly in the process of completing the first biogas plant, for cleaner green energy to dry the sand. 



Our Silica sand mining is done in a safe and responsible manner with the proper oversight of environmental protections. The natural course of the river is maintained with little disruption to the environment when dredging planned areas. Indigenous trees are relocated. All topsoil is returned to the river banks. The wildlife is astonishing around the river, and its' preservation is of our greatest concern.