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  December 6th, 2020 | Written by

The Global Silica Sands Market to Standoff the Pandemic

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  • Silica sands exports expanded modestly to $1.2B (IndexBox estimates) in 2019.
  • The market value increased at an average annual rate of +2.0% over the period from 2007 to 2019.
  • The total export value increased at an average annual rate of +3.1% over the period from 2007 to 2019.

IndexBox invites everyone interested in the relevant data and the actual trends regarding the global silica sand market to join our webinar: ‘Global Silica Sand Market – Statistics, Trends, and Outlook’. Here is a summary of the webinar’s key findings.

The Global Silica Sand Market Posted Solid Gains Until being Hit by the Pandemic

For the third consecutive year, the global silica sand market recorded growth in sales value, which increased by 7.7% to $52.4B in 2019 (IndexBox estimates). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +2.0% over the period from 2007 to 2019.

The countries with the highest volumes of silica sand consumption in 2019 were China (123M tonnes), the U.S. (105M tonnes) and Brazil (20M tonnes), with a combined 51% share of global consumption. Turkey, the Netherlands, India, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Poland and Germany lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 20%. In value terms, the U.S. ($7.6B) led the market, alone. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Brazil ($2.1B). It was followed by Italy.

The main applications of quartz sand are the glass industry, cement production, steel castings manufacturing, production of building materials, production of welding materials, porcelain production, water treatment systems, as an abrasive material for sandblasting, etc. Due to the fact that the scope of quartz sand use is very extensive, the general state of the economy, which is expressed in the growth of GDP, as well as the state of key consuming industries, including construction, constitute the fundamental factors behind the market growth.

It is the construction sector that shapes the consumption of many products and materials, which include quartz sand (dry building mixtures, floorings, cement, mortars, etc.). In addition, the demand in the glass industry, water treatment, and, to a certain extent, metallurgy is also associated with the construction sector.

Until 2020, the global economy has been developing steadily for five years, although at a slower pace than in the previous decade. According to the World Bank outlook from January 2020, the global economy was expected to pick up the growth momentum and increase by from +2.5% to +2.7% per year in the medium term. The main driver of growth in the global economy was the growing demand from developing countries, mainly China and the countries of Southeast Asia. In these countries the economic growth rates are the highest in the world, which is accompanied by active urbanization and growth of the population’s income; all this together leads to an expansion of the volume of both industry and construction. In the United States and the EU, economic growth was also high, which was due to both the strong employment and the availability of credit funding.

In early 2020, however, the global economy entered a period of the crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to battle the spread of the virus, most countries in the world implemented quarantine measures that put on halt production and transport activity.

The combination of those factors disrupted economic growth heavily throughout the world. According to World Bank forecasts, despite the gradual relaxing of restrictive measures and unprecedented government support in countries that faced the pandemic in early 2020, the annual decline of global GDP could amount to -5.2%, which is the deepest global recession being seen over the past eight decades.

In Asian countries, especially China, which faced the pandemic earlier than others, the epidemic situation improved earlier, with the quarantine measures largely relaxed, and the economy is gradually recovering from the forced outage. Thus, in China, by the end of 2020, an increase of 1% is expected (while a year earlier it was 6.1%), and in general in Southeast Asia in 2020, an increase of 0.5% is expected. In the medium term, it is assumed that the economy will gradually recover over several years as the restrictions are finally lifted.

The U.S., meanwhile, is struggling with a drastic short-term recession, with the expected contraction of GDP of approx. -6.1% in 2020, as the hit of the pandemic, was harder than expected, and unemployment soared due to the shutdown and social isolation. In Japan, the decline is also expected to be deep, with -6.1% in 2020, which also hampers any growth of the construction sector.

According to the European Commission, the EU economy is forecasted to plummet by -8.3% in 2020 on the backdrop of the pandemic, hampered by the lockdown, a drop in consumer spending and decreased investment. Russia is also struggling with a sensitive short-term recession, with the expected contraction of GDP of approx. -6.0% in 2020. Current short-term indicators show that the plunge in the first half of 2020 was really deep, but a gradual recovery starts in the third quarter of 2020.

This unpreceded drop in the global economy should certainly affect the silica sand market which is to a very high extent bound to the construction sector.

The COVID Pandemic Challenged the Market, Hampering the Growth and Disrupting Supply Chains

The construction sector has proven extremely vulnerable to the pandemic. Thus, the above economic prerequisites will have the most negative impact on the production of building materials, and, therefore, on the consumption of silica sand. The negative challenge for the market is that due to quarantine measures, construction projects were paused, and the drop in incomes of the population makes mortgage loans less affordable. Moreover, reduced capital investments may lead to the postponement of plans for the building new and the renewal of the existing dwellings, infrastructural and industrial facilities.

In addition, the disruption of established international supply chains between silica sand producers and consumers due to asynchronous quarantine measures and restricted transport activity. Silica sands exports expanded modestly to $1.2B (IndexBox estimates) in 2019, with the U.S. ($375M), Australia ($205M) and Belgium ($96M) featuring among the top exporters, together accounting for 54% of global exports. The total export value increased at an average annual rate of +3.1% over the period from 2007 to 2019. In 2020, expectations regarding the dynamic of global trade are cautious, as it may stagnate along with global consumption.

On the other hand, lower oil prices as a result of reduced demand and oversupply amid the pandemic are making oil and gas more affordable. Consequently, the cost of construction materials incorporating silica is to decrease, which should partially mitigate the negative effect of the drop in spending and investments. Increasing urbanization, as well as the expansion of the suburbs of large metropolitan areas (especially in developed countries), are driving an increase in demand for construction products for individual housing and water treatment, which is also to support the demand for silica sand.

In the medium term, should the pandemic outbreak end in the second half of 2020, the economy is to start recovering in 2021 and then return to the market trend of the gradual growth, driven by the fundamentals existed before 2020 and boosted by support measures imposed by the government. After the ease of the quarantine shutdown, a recovery in the global economy began by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2020. State support measures for the economy will help support investment in both the developed and developing world. However, those projections are very vulnerable to the possible second wave of the COVID worldwide.

Accordingly, the possible action to handle with the new market reality is all around first, the health of employees and everyone, and second – the improvement of business efficiency.

Direct b2b-sales remain one of the key sales channels for silica sand, and there the COVID-related lockdown did not lead to major shifts in this segment. However, online communication becomes increasingly important even in the b2b sales channels. Therefore, enhancing the use of online communications and document workflow is vital for any company in today’s environment.

As for business efficiency, improving financial stability, reducing debt, improving cost-effectiveness, adjusting employment, and payroll feature among key measures to keep a company’s market position during the extremely uncertain period.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform