Minerals (Category A)
Industrial sand is a term normally applied to high purity silica sand products with closely controlled sizing. It is a more precise product than common concrete and asphalt gravels. Silica is the name given to a group of minerals composed solely of silicon and oxygen, the two most abundant elements in the earth’s crust. In spite of its simple chemical formula, SiO2, silica exists in many different shapes and crystalline structures. Found most commonly in the crystalline state, it also occurs in an amorphous form resulting from weathering or plankton fossilization.
Quartz is the most common silica crystal and the second most common mineral on the earth's surface. It is found in almost every type of rock; igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. While quartz deposits are abundant, and quartz is present in some form in nearly all mining operations, high purity and commercially viable deposits occur less frequently. Silica sand deposits are most commonly surface-mined in open pit operations, but dredging and underground mining are also employed. Extracted ore undergoes considerable processing to increase the silica content by reducing impurities. It is then dried and sized to produce the optimum particle size distribution for the intended application.
For industrial and manufacturing applications, deposits of silica yielding products of at least 95% SiO2 are preferred. Silica is hard, chemically inert and has a high melting point, attributable to the strength of the bonds between the atoms. These are prized qualities in applications like foundries and filtration systems. Quartz may be transparent to translucent and has a vitreous luster, hence its use in glassmaking and ceramics. Industrial sand’s strength, silicon dioxide contribution and non-reactive properties make it an indispensable ingredient in the production of thousands of everyday products.