silica and moulding sands association (samsa) part of the Mineral Products Association (MPA)


silica and moulding
sands association



Economic importance

Industrial silica is of strategic national importance, being an essential raw material for a wide variety of industries.

Silica of the quality which is required for high specification products only occurs in a very limited number of viable deposits. Essentially, silica extractive operations can only be undertaken in areas where the natural geology allows.

Silica sand is an important strategic resource which supports an extensive range of industrial uses. A high degree of purity is critical to many of the high tech and industrial uses such as silicon chips and glass manufacture. However, all grades of silica sand that are produced are matched to the many uses demanded by society and cannot effectively be replaced by other available materials.

The UK remains self sufficient in its supply of silica sand and its importance as a constituent to many other products and its value to the national economy cannot be emphasised enough.

Changes in UK industry can be illustrated by the decline in heavy industrial activities, such as foundries, now replaced by the information technology and the specialist, high specification, casting work in which the UK is a world leader. Since the seventies the number of heavy foundries has fallen from some 4000 to less than 400 yet the overall demand for silica sand has not. The silica sand industry has responded to these changes and continues to meet the requirements of the downstream products.

The National Office of Statistics gathers key data on the uses of silica sand with the current information, by proportion of annual production, showing:

Sand for foundry use 9%
Sand for glass manufacture 39%
Sand for other industrial uses 25%
Sand for sort and leisure uses 27%
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