Global Industrial Silica Sand

Global Economic Growth, Hydraulic Fracturing Drive Worldwide Sand Consumption

Silica Sand

Global consumption of industrial silica sand is expected to climb 3.2% per year through 2022. Ongoing economic and infrastructure development in the Asia/Pacific region will drive growth, as will hydraulic fracturing activity in North America.

Key Findings in the Global Silica Sand Study:

Frac sand slows down a bit in US, booming in South America and Middle East

Over the past decade, the US hydraulic fracturing boom has resulted in exponential gains for silica sand used in proppant applications, or frac sand. The United States will continue to account for the vast majority of the global frac sand in the near term.

Through 2022, however, the fastest growing markets for frac sand lie outside of the US. Countries like Argentina, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia have begun exploiting unconventional gas reserves in earnest. For frac sand suppliers seeking high growth opportunities from a small base, South America and the Africa/Mideast region are set to see the fastest growth.

China and Russia will see robust increases as well in percentage terms, but shale gas development in these areas is more likely to proceed at a slow and steady pace than to see rapid development explosions.

Fairmount Santrol and Unimin merger creates a company built to weather downturns

In June 2018, Fairmount Santro and the Unimin subsidiary of SCR-Sibelco merged to form Covia. Both firms were negatively impacted by the oil and gas downturn in 2015 and 2016. A merger between the two companies creates greater economies of scale in respect to two key competitive factors. First, Unimin possessed a broader product and market base than did Fairmount Santrol, enabling Covia to better shift its focus to other markets to support sales during the next weak period in the oil and gas industry. Second, during periods of rapid demand expansion for frac sand – as was the case in 2017 – the combined firm has superior rail terminal access to all of the major shale plays. As a result, the company can reduce its prices and time to market, making it a more attractive option for customers.

Advanced ferroalloy manufacturing driving rapid growth in Asia

Rising production of such goods as advanced steel and aluminum alloys, solar cells, and other electronic products are causing demand for silica-based chemicals to rise rapidly. This is particularly true in the Asia/Pacific region, the leading supplier of these materials. As a result, three new plants have opened in Malaysia in the past several years. Demand in the country is expected to grow at a double-digit pace through 2022 as these facilities reach capacity.

Study Coverage

This study provides historical data for 2007, 2012, and 2017, and forecasts for 2022. Demand is given in millions of metric tons by market (glass, hydraulic fracturing, foundry, building products, chemicals, and other) and country. Sales in millions of dollars for each country covered and market (at the global level) are also addressed. The study evaluates market share and analyzes competitive factors for such companies as Covia, SCR-Sibelco, and US Silica.

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