must have a silica concentration of more than 99.9%, against less than 80% for construction material

high-quality sand is scarce: of the 50bn or so tonnes extracted each year, less than 1% can be used to produce regular glass. A tiny fraction of that is pure enough for solar panels.

likely to be a surge in production, especially in sectors that Xi Jinping sees as important to China’s future, such as lithium-ion batteries, electric cars and solar panels, many of which require vast amounts of sand

Prices are already hovering near record highs; last year they came to around $55 a tonne

price of high-quality sand has risen twice as much as that of lower-quality stuff over the past five years, owing to the expansion of green manufacturing and the growing popularity of smartphones

manufacturers are now looking for alternatives. One option is to refine sand used for regular glass, which tends to be 99.5% silica. The problem is that doing so is itself expensive.

black market, estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year, is likely to grow. Australia and Brazil are perhaps best placed to profit from the legal boom,

Interesting, inside the USA, sand for the purpose of fracking is up as well over the years.


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