Oil & Gas Scenario and Health Hazard Warnings Restrain Industrial Silica Sands Market Growth

High purity silica sand products with almost evenly sized particles are categorized as industrial silica sands. The purity of these sands is gauged by its silicon dioxide (SiO2) content where a minimum of 95% is preferred. Certain specific properties such as contribution of SiO2, strength of the sand, and non-reactiveness of the sand make industrial silica sands a primary component in a number of everyday products.

Presently, these sands find a major market as proppants for hydraulic fracturing operations and similar oil and gas extraction operations. Proppants are particulate materials that are added to the hydraulic fracturing water mixture. This when pumped into the fracturing wells, creates cracks in the underlying shale rocks and maintain them open to let oil and gas out.

The recent fall in the crude oil prices has greatly affected this market. Due to this scenario, oil and gas producers have started to prefer low cost sands over high quality industrial silica sands. As a result of this, large inventory of high quality industrial silica sands is building up in the production bases of sand producers in the United States. This trend threatens to bring down the market size of industrial silica sands considerably in the oil and gas industry.

Another key restraint that the industrial silica sands market faces is the environmental and health hazards associated with sand mining. Environmental concerns over industrial silica sand mining exist regarding air quality, ground water depletion, surface and ground-water aquifer contamination, and long term damage due to potential depletion of land suitable for agriculture.

Industrial sand producers may have to take certain actions to optimize sand mining activities so that there is very low environmental and health impact. Furthermore, it would be advantageous for the industrial silica sand market if the production is controlled to curtail inventory generation of silica sands.

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