KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - One of the bounties with which Sudan is endowed is silica sand, a mineral now gaining a lot attention from foreign investors.
Silica sand (or quartz sand) are white sandy rocks containing a high rate of silica dioxide (SiO2), in addition to a few impurities and heavy metals.
Silicon extracted from silica sand is used in the manufacturing of glass and furnaces. These two industries consume 80% of the World’s output of silicon that amounts to 120 million tons.
Other silica uses include the manufacturing of surfaces, household appliances, car glass, decoration glass and glass plates of different measurements and sizes. It is also used in the manufacturing of computers, smart phones, TV sets, solar panels, transistors, isotopes and in defense industries and other apparatuses and industrial substances on which advanced technology depends.
Silica sand is available in different areas of Sudan, in particular in the semi-desert parts of the country.
Experts maintain that Sudan’s silica sands are the best in Africa whereby the rate of silicon in it amounts to over 90%.
Sudan’s verified silica sand reserve amounts to over 3 billion tons.
In 2018 Sudan concluded a tentative agreement with a German company to export the worth of $2 billion silica sand.
But experts advised the treatment of this sand chemically and physically before exporting it by way of obtaining an added value because the price per one ton of silica foam ranges between 1000-2000 US Dollars on the international market, while the price of raw silica sand is a humble 50-300 Dollars per ton.
In addition, the local processing of this sand can open up job opportunities for the citizens and help develop the areas where it exists.
Columnist Jalal al-Dinn Mohamed Ibrahim has suggested a solution to the Sudanese economy by using the abundantly available silica, crystal-clear white sand, for manufacturing a number of products for export to earn considerable proceeds of foreign currency.
Writing in Altayyar daily newspaper of Sunday, Ibrahim said he had been raising the issue of manufacturing products from silica dioxide (Sio2) inside Sudan since 2003 and had made the proposal to officials of the defunct regime who he noted were running after their own interests and were disinterested in improvement of the country's economy.
It was the first Sudanese businessman Khalil Osman who utilized silica and established a glass factory from silica, although it used a simple technique for producing a simple kind of glass, said the columnist, adding that at present there is a single glass plant of an international standard in the country.
He added that Silica gel and precipitated silica can also be produced locally and exported to bring in the hard currency that is badly needed by the Sudan.
The price of the silica products is six-fold higher than that of petroleum, Ibrahim noted, urging the transitional government to probe this field.
But this idea requires the provision of modern technologies, a technical and operation administration, trained cadres and basic services needed by the investors.
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