Silica sand ore is rich in Algeria, India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, etc.
The regular specifications of silica sand are: 1-2mm, 2-4mm, 4-8mm, 8-16mm, 16-32mm, 10-20 mesh, 20-40 mesh, 40-80mesh, 100-120 mesh, 200 mesh, 325 mesh, SiO2 > 99-99.5% Fe2O3 less than 0.02-0.015%.
The silica sand raw material is usually will contain sticky clay, Kaolin clay, ilmenite, Hematite, Iron, and other magnetic minerals. The silica sand color in raw material maybe white, yellow, brown, etc.
Silicon sand is an important industrial mineral raw material, widely used in glass, casting, ceramics and refractory materials, metallurgy, construction, machinery, electronics, chemical, plastic, abrasive, rubber, aerospace and other industries. Another important use of silica sand is the filter and filter used for water treatment.
1) Glass: flat glass, float glass, glass products (glass jars, glass bottles, glass tubes, etc.), optical glass, glass fiber, glass instrument, conductive glass, glass cloth and special glass for anti ray
2) Ceramics and refractories: porcelain materials and glazes, high silica bricks, ordinary silica bricks and silicon carbide raw materials.
3) Metallurgy: raw materials or additives and fluxes of silicon metal, ferrosilicon alloy and silicon aluminum alloy.
4) Construction: concrete, cementitious material, road building material, artificial marble, cement physical property test material (namely cement standard sand)
5) Chemical: silicon compound and water glass and other raw materials, sulphuric acid tower filling, amorphous silica powder.
6) Machinery: the main raw materials for casting sand, abrasive materials (sandblasting, hard abrasive paper, sandpaper, abrasive cloth, etc.)
7) Electronics: high purity metal silicon, optical fiber for communication, etc.
8) Rubber and plastics: fillers (increase wear resistance)
9) Aeronautics and Astronautics: its internal molecular chain structure, crystal shape and lattice change law, with high-temperature resistance, low thermal expansion coefficient, corrosion resistance, high insulation, piezoelectric effect, resonance effect and its unique optical properties.
Sand is the second most used natural resource behind water. It is of high importance in the construction industry. As urbanization spreads around the world, more construction material is needed to build infrastructure in urban areas. The AT Kearney Global Business Policy Council’s Year-Ahead Predictions 2019 state, “Two-thirds of construction material is concrete, which itself is composed of two-thirds sand.” But not only the construction industry is heavily depended on a steady sand supply, also the fracking process needs plenty of sand in order to extract oil or gas. Therefore, the Business Insider argues that sand will become the commodity of the 21st century and shape it similarly to oil in the 20th century.
Usually, sand is supplied from local sources as transportation costs make up to 70 percent of the total costs in international sand trade. However, recently, some countries have had to import the commodity to meet their domestic demands. Famously, the United Arab Emirates import tons of sand from Australia to complete their infrastructure projects. Qatar’s sand imports amount to $ 6 billion every year. Also, Vietnam expects to run out of sand in 2020 and then become a sand importer. This sand scarcities in certain regions lead to increases in sand prices all over the world. In India, the scarcity has led to a 100 to 150 percent increase in sand prices in two years. Cement and concrete prices rose nearly 70 percent in the last 14 years in the US. Especially in emerging markets, where the urbanization has galloped over the last years, higher prices put pressure on construction companies. The increasing prices also have drawn attention from criminal groups, the so-called sand mafia. They illegally mine sand on beaches, islands, and riverbeds and then sell it on the black market.
Moreover, the (illegal) mining or sand leads to various environmental issues. Firstly, natural habitats for endangered animals and plants are destroyed. Secondly, Floods are worse when sand has been removed in the area. Thirdly, standing water pools created by extracting sand contribute to the spread of Malaria and other diseases. These consequences can be described as “tragedy of the commons”. As sand is mainly unregulated, operators tend to go for maximum profits without taking external effects or their exploitation into account. Therefore, scientists argue that the sand extraction must be monitored closely. Environmental groups, like Greenpeace, argue that regulations have to be drafted and enforced. This could lead to more environmental stability. Furthermore, it would allow for more stable economic development. However, until now, there have been hardly any actions to regulate the sky-rocketing sand mining activities and its consequences.
It is more promising to invest in companies that produce sand or are part of the sand supply chain, e.g. cement or fracking sand producers