Global demand for industrial silica sand is projected to grow 4.8 percent annually to 280 million metric tons in 2016, with a value of $9.2 billion. Glass production and foundries will continue to be the largest markets, although faster gains will be registered by the developing hydraulic fracturing sector. The Asia/Pacific region will account for the largest share of additional silica sand demand, driven by a healthy outlook for construction and foundry output, particularly in China and India. Outside of Asia, the best opportunities are expected in the large US market, which is benefiting from its current dominance of hydraulic fracturing activity as well as a rebound in construction and motor vehicle production. These and other trends, including market share and product segmentation, are presented in World Industrial Silica Sand, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.
The glass market accounted for 36 percent of total 2011 industrial sand usage worldwide and will provide the largest net gain in sand demand through 2016. Container glass sand usage will register starkly different trends for developed and developing countries. In developed markets, especially those in Europe and the US, the increasing use of recycled materials in glass production and weak-to-declining container output will continue to sharply reduce raw sand requirements. In contrast, markets in China and other developing countries will see above average gains. Demand in the foundry sector, which runs a close second to glass in market share, will improve significantly based on a general improvement in the global economic outlook and strong growth in motor vehicle production. Fastest overall gains in foundry sand demand will be in China and South America. Demand growth in most other markets will also accelerate due to improved economic conditions.
Hydraulic fracturing has been the most visible market for sand in recent years based on the spectacular gains shown in the dominant US oil and gas industry. Sand is used as a proppant in well stimulation projects and has been essential to the development of shale plays in the US. Output from these plays is responsible for a resurgence in oil and gas production in the previously sluggish US market. While other countries are showing strong interest in repeating the success of the US in this regard, few are expected to register significant demand for frac sand in the near term. The countries with the most promise are Canada and several nations in South America, notably Argentina.
The Freedonia Group is a leading international business research company, founded in 1985, that publishes more than 100 industry research studies annually. This industry analysis provides an unbiased outlook and a reliable assessment of an industry and includes product segmentation and demand forecasts, industry trends, demand history, threats and opportunities, competitive strategies, market share determinations and company profiles.