Responsible Sand Production
Sibelco is committed to the responsible management of industrial sand deposits to ensure a sustainable supply of materials for its customers, based on long-term resource management as well as through recycling and materials innovation.
What is Industrial Sand?
There is a marked difference between industrial crystalline silica and the sand typically associated with illicit sand trafficking and sand shortages. The latter is typically ‘young’ sand taken from beaches and river banks and used as a low-quality ingredient in aggregates for locally-consumed construction materials. Industrial silica sand (or quartz sand, as quartz is the predominant mineral) is plentiful on a global scale. However, its extraction depends on its quality – and therefore suitability for industrial applications – as well as its proximity to an industrial customer base and – most importantly – the ability to secure access rights to extract the minerals.
Supply and Demand – The Market for Industrial Sand
The world’s demand for sand and gravel is estimated to be between 30 and 50 billion tonnes a year. Of this amount, industrial silica sand only accounts for about 300 million tonnes a year (about 1 percent or less). Industrial sand production tends to be very much in line with industrial demand which comes chiefly from five sectors – glass (34%), foundry (22%), oil & gas (20%), high end building materials and ceramics (7%) and chemicals (6%). Source: Freedonia World Industrial Silica Sand Report 2016
Sustainable Mineral Management
Accessing silica sand in a responsible way involves three main steps – preparation, operation and rehabilitation. Each phase includes the involvement of many people and significant resources. This approach is also used for all other Sibelco minerals such as clays, kaolin etc. The preparation phase – which lasts up to ten years – involves resource identified by Sibelco’s team of geologists, obtaining the right to access the mineral, land-use and environmental planning and finally the submission of an operating permit request to the authorities.
Material Innovation and Recycling
Sibelco anticipates global trends and customer demand to relieve pressure on primary natural resources. This includes the development of recycling services, for example the recycling of glass or fibre glass, as well as entering into partnerships for the development of less resource-intense materials such as low-density aggregates.
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