Industrial Silica Sands refers to sands having composition and texture which make it ideally suited for industrial applications. It consists of rounded sands composed of almost pure quartz grains. Silica is the name given to a group of minerals composed of silicon and oxygen, the two most abundant elements on the earth’s surface. Silica Sands is used for a variety of applications such as glass making, construction and hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
Glass making is the largest application segment for industrial silica sand and the predominant glass manufacturing industry in India and China act as major drivers for the increase demand. Silica sand is also used in foundries and construction which are booming sectors in the region of Asia Pacific. There is also significant demand for silica sand as a proppants in the hydraulic fracturing market. The rapid development in shale oil and gas market over the past few years is a key factor for the growing demand. Hydraulic fracturing or fracking involves the extraction of oil and gas from the bed rock and as much as 10,000 tons of silica is consumed per well. This has resulted in sharp increase in demand for silica sand from the oil and gas segment.
Asia Pacific was the largest consumer of silica sand owing to the profound glass and foundry industry in this region. In addition, the growing construction activities in this region would further augment the demand for silica sand. North Americas’ demand for silica sand has been majorly due to the growing oil and gas market in the region and could see significant growth over the next five years. The hydraulic fracturing market is expected to witness the fastest growth among the application segments and this in turn would see a substantial demand increase in countries such as Canada and the U.S. However, there is very limited international trade in the market due to the high cost involved with transportation as compared to the cost of the product. Major players prefer to have a domestic procession facility closer to the centers of demand.
The key players in the market include Sibelco, US Silica, Fairmount Minerals, Quarzwerke GmbH and Badger Mining among others. The market is fragmented in nature and there are a large number of domestic manufacturers in China who cater to niche applications such as foundry and construction among others.
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