Construction sand is a major global industry, with an estimated 11 billion tonnes of sand mined for construction alone in 2010.
The primary structural component in a range of building and construction products, whole-grain silica is used in flooring compounds, roofing shingles, skid-resistant surfaces and other applications requiring packing density and flexural strength. Ground silica adds durability, anti-corrosion and weathering properties in caulks, expoxy-based compounds and sealants.
Growing Asian markets for construction sand include Singapore, where its building construction industry uses an estimated 1 million tonnes of concrete per month, including 300,000 tonnes of construction sand. Importantly for Australian suppliers, the Singapore Building and Construction Authority has placed a requirement that 5% of construction sand be sourced from non-traditional sources including Australia.
Other Asian emerging markets are also showing growth, including in India, where the nation’s rapid industrialisation has raised demand for construction sand.
Vietnam is also seeing significant growth, having changed from an exporter to an importer of industrial sand, thanks to its recent building boom, with estimates by its construction ministry that it could run out of domestic supply by 2020.
Further demand growth is likely given UN estimates that there will be more than 40 “megacities” home to more than 10 million inhabitants by 2030, up from 31 in 2016, resulting in more demand for housing and infrastructure, and thereby mineral sands.