WHY INDUSTRY NEEDS SILICA

High-grade silica sand is a key raw material in the industrial development of the world, especially in the specialist glass, metal casting, and ceramics industries. High-grade silica sand contains a high portion of silica (over 98% SiO2) and is used for applications other than construction aggregates.

Unlike construction sands, which are used for their physical properties alone, high grade silica sands are valued for a combination of chemical and physical properties. Ongoing economic and infrastructure development in the Asia/Pacific region is expected to drive growth.

Glassmaking silica sand is the primary component of all types of standard and specialty glass. It provides the essential SiO2 component of glass formulation; its chemical purity is the primary determinant of colour, clarity and strength.

Industrial sand is used to produce flat glass for building and automotive use, container glass for foods and beverages, and tableware. In its pulverised form, ground silica is required in the production of fibreglass insulation and for reinforcing glass fibres. Specialty glass applications include test tubes and other scientific tools, incandescent and fluorescent lamps.


Image of silica sand from result of rapid disc magnetic separation (non-magnetic) of bulk sample from tenement E70/5447.

The accelerating growth being experienced within the renewables sector is particularly notable, because silica is the main component used in the construction of solar panels.

The sourcing of silica is also increasingly under review, and environmental concerns in Asia particularly, where the source of sand has traditionally been from rivers, has seen the supply diminish as extraction has been restricted.

High-grade silica sand currently has no direct competitor, as no substitute can be found for the majority of industrial applications.