Globally, silica sand is currently in a growth phase due to increasing demand from the construction sector, with both volume and value having increased worldwide. Sales of silica sand experienced a compound annual growth rate of approximately 8.7% in value terms from 2009 to 2016, with a market value of US$6.3 billion. This was due to its applications across a range of industries, including glass making as well as foundry casting, water filtration, chemicals and metals, along with the hydraulic fracturing process.

Accelerations in construction spending and manufacturing output worldwide are expected to drive growth in important silica sand-consuming industries, including the glass, foundry and building products sectors. Significant growth is projected for the hydraulic fracturing market as horizontal drilling for shale oil and gas resources expands, largely in North America.

The Asia-Pacific region is expected to remain the largest regional consumer of industrial sand through 2025, supported by the dominant Chinese market. The country’s container glass industry may drive further silica sand sales, supported by rising production of glass bottles, particularly in the alcoholic beverage sector including wine and beer.

In India, foundry activity has shown strong growth, driven by the production of sand moulds to manufacture metal castings. Indonesia may also register strong growth in silica sand sales through 2022, supported by rapid advances in the output of glass products and metal castings, combined with increased hydraulic fracturing activity.

Sparkler Project Drill Program

Outside of the Asia-Pacific region, demand for silica sand in North America is forecast to rise at a faster annual pace than any other regional market. The US and Canada will lead regional growth, driven by expansion in the countries’ respective hydraulic fracturing segments. Strength in US oilfield activity may boost demand for sand proppants, as will increases in the number of fracturing stages per well.

Consumption of silica sand in Western Europe is projected to see more modest annual gains through 2020, although such growth may mark a rebound from the declines registered during 2008 to 2015. Recoveries in building construction and manufacturing activity, including a turnaround in flat glass output, may stimulate renewed demand for industrial sand in the region.