Geology & GeoMetallurgy

Geology & GeoMetallurgy2017-04-04T06:58:01-04:00
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world quartz resources (9 replies)

10 months ago
montsep 10 months ago

I'm an environmental journalist and I'm preparing an article on photovoltaic cells. I would like to know the degree of exploitation of world quartz resources, and the current trend of this figure, given nowadays extraction rate.

I'd like to know also which are the main world quartz deposits.

Thank you very much

10 months ago
David 10 months ago

Hello Isabel,

I referred this to me good GeoFriend and he said " The most common chemical elements in the crust are oxygen (46.6%), silicon (27.7%), aluminium (8.1%), iron (5.0%), calcium (3.6%), potassium (2.8%), sodium (2.6%), and magnesium (2.1%).

Silica makes up ¼ of the earths crust. I wouldn’t anticipate that mankind will every be able to exploit all the quartz."

Happy writing!


10 months ago
SmartDog 10 months ago

Last time I was at beach, I saw a fair amount of quartz in a fine granular mode, ideal for extraction.  Actually the one form of quartz that is in (relatively) short supply are finr grained sands suitable for hydraulic fracturing.

9 months ago
Tantal 9 months ago

HALA wrote:

Yes, silica makes one-fourth of the Earth's crust but this is largely in the form of silicate minerals (namely not pure SiO2). Yes the sand in the beach may seem white but certainly not pure enough to make solar panels. Even those transparent pencil-like "pure" quartz crystals have deleterious impurities. Here in Australia, near Ballarat (Victoria) Creswick Quartz produces very high grade quartz from historical gold tails and sells to their overseas customers (I tried to attach a p-p-presentation but it is a big file; if requested I can send it to your personal email address). 

The link is a good source of information. Major quartz producers are Saint-Gobain Quartz and Spruce Pine (Quartz Corp, USA) - see 

Hope this gives you a head start.

9 months ago
Tantal 9 months ago

HALA Wrote:

Sand for Hydraulic Fracturing needs to be composed of high-purity silica (greater than 98-99% SiO2) and most importantly consisting of well rounded, spherical sand grains with a narrow particle size distribution. So, the beach sand is not suitable for fracking unless well rounded and sorted to a narrow particle size distribution.

Frac sand Fairmount Santrol 

9 months ago
montsep 9 months ago

Thank you everybody.

Regarding "Silica makes up ¼ of the earths crust. I wouldn’t anticipate that mankind will every be able to exploit all the quartz": I was more or less aware of quartz abundance on Earth, but sand seems also to be an "infinite" material on Earth and yet there are scarcity troubles:

That's why I was asking for the case of world quartz deposits, from which silicon used in PV panels comes from... at least in SE Asian production, according to Spanish PV solar panels industry. In the US the picture might be different, since USGS cites PV cells as a destiny of silicon obtained from sand

Can anyone clarify or validate/refute these infos?


9 months ago
montsep 9 months ago

In order to help clarifying: the exact resource I'm interested in is called "silicon metal". Which is different from silica. I might be getting confused because of that.


9 months ago
SmartDog 9 months ago

First off please note that sand is a general reference to a particular size grading and not to a type of material, being finer than gravel and coarser than silt.  It can be made up of a lot of different materials from quarts, to dolomite, to lava, to limestone (and others).  Sand (as a size classification of material) has many uses from construction, to agriculture, to hydraulic fracturing and in each case it has other specific characteristics that are required.  And that video is talking about a totally different area, in that erosion is removing a lot of beach area due to rising sea levels. 

Quartz as a mineral, for photo voltaic cells is a different case. It is a fairly common material, and while not found every where it is still not critical mineral due to scarcity.  While seldom found it massive formations, it is fairly plentiful.   

9 months ago
montsep 9 months ago

Fairly clarified, thank you!

Robert W Schafer
9 months ago
Robert W Schafer 9 months ago

On a commercial scale metallurgical silicon metal is produced by the carbothermic reaction of silica (quartz) in an electric arc furnace using carbon electrodes where the temperature in the main reaction zone exceeds 1800°C. Commercially produced metallurgical grade silicon metal is typically Si 98% pure and is notably produced in China, Russia, Brazil, Norway, South Africa and USA.

There is increasing demand for silicon metal used in the manufacture of solar panels, currently a growing industry. Silicon based polymers are also used as alternatives to hydrocarbon based products. They can appear in many every day products such as lubricants, greases, resins, skin and hair products. Another common use of silicon is silicon chips, produced from semi-conductor grade silicon, which are components used in many every day electronic devices.

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