We’re adding another New York every month,” explained Kiran Pereira, the founder of SandStories.org in a recent keynote address.
In her talk, Sand Depletion: The global crisis not being talked about, Pereira said the world’s building stock is expected to double by 2060, a statement contextualised with the remarkable image of the construction of another ‘Big Apple’ every four weeks over the next 40 years.
She was speaking virtually to industry professionals as part of a major two-day symposium for the materials processing industry programmed by CDE, the leading manufacturer of wet processing technologies.
“We’re talking about massive, massive volumes here,” Pereira said. “Sand and gravel today account for the largest volumes of solid material extracted globally.”
The demand, she said, is currently estimated to be about 50 billion tonnes per year, an average of about 18kg per person per day.
Hers was one of the standout keynotes from CDE’s recent Engineering Insights symposium, which took place virtually from 14-15 October. The event was in response to the desire for industry professionals around the world to come together once again as the industry often does at one of its many international tradeshows.
To maintain momentum and to support the continued progression of the industry, CDE, harnessing the global reach offered by digital conferencing, programmed its Engineering Insights symposium to deliver the tradeshow experience virtually.
Across two days, CDE experts, together with a host of guests and industry figures, facilitated a series of dynamic, educational and informative presentations and panel discussions covering multiple sectors, including sand and aggregates, construction and demolition waste recycling, industrial sands, mining, and wastewater.
Driving the reuse of recycled material
Jim Appleby, Operations Director at Downer Group, advocating for the reuse of urban recycled material, put into context the huge volumes of waste generated by the Australian population.
He was joined by CDE’s Darren Eastwood who said, “Australians generated a total of (estimated) 67 million tonnes (Mt) of waste across all waste categories” in 2016/17.
Providing context to this, Jim added the volume of waste generated would fill Melbourne Cricket Ground forty times every year.
“There are only 25 million people in Australia, 2.7 tonnes of waste per person,” he said. “Waste is socially unacceptable now.”
Reconophalt™, Australia’s first asphalt product containing 83% recycled materials, is one of the many ways Downer Group is working to divert useable material that would otherwise be destined for landfill.
“It has up to eight recycled materials including reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) from end-of-life roads, recycled oils, waste toner from used printer cartridges, crumb rubber from end-of-life tyres, recovered sand, recovered aggregates and waste glass destined for landfill and soft plastics from plastic bags and packaging.”
Mineral Sands market outlook
Galvin Lim, Principal Consultant at TZ Minerals International Pty Ltd (TZMI), facilitated a session providing a market outlook in the mineral sands industry.
For the mineral sands producer, he said, the robustness of financial return is very much dependent on the product mix, adding that deposits with more rutile and zircon will be more attractive than those with just ilmenite in the assemblage.
On the topic of titanium feedstocks, he said titanium dioxide (TiO2) accounted for approximately 89% of total consumption in 2019 and that changes within the industry will have significant impact on titanium feedstock demand.
“Pigment dominates titanium feedstock demand, accounting for ~90% of global consumption every year. Demand is expected to grow at 1.7% CAGR through to 2024, with pigment end-use contributing the bulk of the demand growth in volume term.
“As expected, there will be demand weakness in the near-term, driven by impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic. We expect the demand in 2020 to fall by 4% from 2019 levels.
“Quarantine measures and travel restrictions have resulted in lower TiO2 usage overall. The aerospace sector, which has been hardest hit, is expected to recover back to pre-Covid levels by 2023.”
He also anticipates increasing overseas exports of concentrates into the Chinese market, as the country is unable to meet its domestic demand for concentrates such as zircon.
“Concentrate production is often seen by many new projects as a faster and lower risk option to bring their projects online.”
Demand for silica sand
Murray Lines, Director at Stratum Resources, a management consulting practice specialising in the International Mineral Markets of Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, outlined the current demand for silica sand.
Australia, he said, comes in as the fifth largest exporter of silica sand, with much of its exports going to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
“Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region for silica sand. As is the case for a lot of minerals, between a third and half of all minerals used worldwide is produced and consumed in the Asia Pacific. Australia is in a fortunate geographic location where the demand for silica sand continues to increase.”
He referenced several new silica sand projects that are underway in Australia and Asia, including Diatreme’s Cape Bedford, which sits south of Mitsubishi’s Cape Flattery deposit and is the world’s largest silica sand mining operation “exporting around 2.5-2.6 million tonnes a year.”
The packed two-day programme featured almost 90 sessions involving over 100 speakers. Daniel Webber, Regional Manager Australasia at CDE, says, “In these unique and challenging times there are many restrictions that have prevented CDE, our customers, and others in materials processing from coming together at industry events to discuss the prevalent issues of the day and the latest technological advances.
“Utilising our global network, we decided to programme the major two-day Engineering Insights symposium which proved to be a huge success with almost 1,500 industry professionals from around the world registering.
“We firmly believe this shared approach to knowledge and expertise is a better way to aid the progression of the industry.”
He says it is important to ensure these discussions can continue even though the industry is unable to come together in the same space.
“The challenges facing our industry – sand depletion, water management, sustainable mining and much more – have not gone away. As an industry leader in these fields we felt a responsibility to convene the very best in the business to facilitate these important conversations.”