Fremantle Ports facilitates a boom in local silica exports that help build high tech products
Fremantle Ports is partnering with local companies to help meet booming global demand for Western Australian silica sand, a vital component used to create cutting-edge, high-technology products including photovoltaic panels and the screens for smartphones and TVs.
High-grade silica sand sourced locally is in high demand, with yearly shipments by Fremantle Ports now increasing from an average of 300,000 tonnes per annum in 2016 to more than double this amount in 2022.
Silica sand is abundant in and around Perth, and local supply is highly prized due to its high silicon content, low iron level and optical brightness. These attributes make it a sought-after commodity for the world's leading industrial companies such as Corning, LG and Samsung.
“Fremantle Ports is proud to work with local businesses in our State’s shift to new commodities, including facilitating the export of high-grade silica to international markets,” said Mark Pearce, Acting General Manager Operations at Fremantle Ports.
Mr Pearce explained that by understanding our customer’s requirements, Fremantle Ports can support companies including Hanson, a local subsidiary of Heidelberg Materials, based in Rivervale, to satisfy global demand for their products.
Hanson's representative, Josh Maldon, commented: "Western Australia has some of the world's best natural sand deposits and in such proximity to important Asian industrial markets. We have an enviable position to access these markets and rely on Fremantle Ports experience in handling the commodity and having the capacity in place to support the expected growth in demand".
Fremantle Ports’ largest export markets for silica include South Korea, which receives more than 50% of the total annual exports of this commodity, followed by China, Thailand, Japan, Mexico and India.
Silica (silicon dioxide) is a naturally occurring mineral that presents as hard rock quartz and naturally weathered sand. One of the most plentiful naturally occurring minerals on earth, Western Australia is blessed abundant high-grade silica.
High silica-content beaches are famous for their sparkling white appearance (as seen in iconic images of locations like Mauritius or Queensland’s Whitehaven Beach) and emit a talc-like squeaky sound when walked upon.
Mr Pearce said Fremantle Ports was examining options to expand its capacity in the outer harbour, to keep pace with demand for the high-quality inputs derived locally and shipped interstate and overseas at ever-increasing volumes.
Image description: silica sand mined in the Perth region loaded for export at Fremantle Ports’ outer harbour facilities in Kwinana
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