Glass manufacturing is a huge customer of many industrial minerals, including soda ash, quartz and also limestone. It is additionally used in a wide selection of industries, such as building, production and also house ware. But with the economic recession still leaving a trail of devastation in many kind of industries, how will certainly the glass supply chain fare in 2013?

Glass is an amorphous, non-crystalline solid product recognised for its low-price suitcapability for many kind of day-to-day offers consisting of transparent panes and also receptacles. While the adaptability of glass to many various commodities and also applications is recognisable, the use of commercial minerals in its formation is by no implies limited - specifically considering the variations between glass kind and also glass manufacturing process.

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Image: FEVE
The most familiar and generally produced kind of glass is soda-lime glass. This glass is used widely in 2 main types - flat glass, designed for finish offers such as home window panes and also in the automobile market, and container glass, used to make receptacles such as tablewear and also bottles.

Soda lime glass is produced making use of minerals such as soda ash, quartz (silica) and also lime.

Glass can also be identified in a a lot larger sense to encompass every solid that possesses a non-crystalline, amorphous structure that exhibits a glass shift when heated in the direction of the liquid state.

In this wider feeling, glasses deserve to be made of various classes of products including metallic alloys, ionic melts, aqueous remedies, molecular liquids and also polymers. For many applications, polymer glasses, such as acrylic glass, polycarbonate, polyethylene terephthalate, are a lighter different to typical silica glasses.

Glass production is complex and includes an substantial variety of compositions and also product kinds. Materials for glassmaking deserve to be classified in 3 groups: glass formers, fluxes and stabilisers.

Soda-lime glass

Soda lime glass is composed of about 75% silica (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O) from soda ash, lime (CaO) and a number of other minerals including stibnite (the primary ore of antimony) and feldspar. The mix of minerals used to make soda-lime glass is termed ‘batch’.

The glass is produced by melting the batch in a glass heater at temperatures of up to 1,675¡C (3,047¡F). The temperature of the heater is restricted by the high quality of the heater superstructure product, that is whether it can withstand higher temperatures, and also by the glass complace.

“In the procedure of melting a viscous liquid is developed and the mass becomes clear and also homogeneous at temperatures above 1,000 ¡C. When rerelocated from the reactor, the glass acquires a shape permitting taking care of. By regulating the temperature of cooling, avoids devitrification or crystallisation,” Felix Antonio Martinez Sendoya, Colombian Silica’s CEO of silica and also business, told IM.

Image: FEVE
Relatively inexpensive minerals, such as soda ash, sand and also feldspar, are included to the batch as fluxing agents to minimize the melting temperature of quartz and also assist to control the viscosity of glass.

For minerals such as feldspar (p74), the alkali content acts as flux, lowering the glass-melting temperature and also therefore reducing production costs. Coloured glass, such as that used to make green and brvery own bottles, is produced from raw products containing iron oxide (view pp.42-45).

A typical batch for clear glass containers might consist of 155kg soda ash, 172kg limerock, 145kg feldspar and 5kg sodium sulphate. Flat glass batches call for about 115kg of soda ash per 450kg of silica sand provided <Industrial Minerals and Rocks, 7th Edition>.

“Importantly, the manufacturing procedure is almost the exact same for all types; transforms from one specimen to an additional is the material. All of them have a higher or lesser propercentage of silicon atoms,” Sendoya told IM.

While the materials offered to make flat and also container glass come from the very same mineral batch, the physical process offered to develop the finiburned glass differs slightly.

For level glass, the float process is administered, while for containers, glass blowing is perdeveloped. Float glass has actually a higher magnesium oxide and also sodium oxide content compared with container glass, and reduced silica, calcium oxide and also aluminium oxide content. This indicates that the top quality of container glass is better, greatly due to the reality that it is forced to be safe for use as homeware receptacles (for chemical durcapacity against water).

Quartz (silica)

Industrial sand and also gravel, often dubbed silica, silica sand or quartz sand also, includes sands and also gravels through high silicon dioxide (SiO2) content. Silica is the significant ingredient in basically all kinds of glass consisting of containers, level glass, lighting glass, tableware, TV tubes and screens, decorative glass, fibreglass, optical glass and vacuum flasks. The commercial supplies of glass (containers, windows, auto glazing) contain in between 70 - 74% silica, the ultimate source of which is silica sand also.

Glass manufacturers are principally concerned with the chemical composition of silica sands, particularly iron, chromite and other refractory mineral contents, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS).

Quality requirements depend on the kind of glass being produced - whether it will be coloured or clear - and also to some extent on the demands of the individual glass manufacturer. Silica sand also for colourless glass containers mainly has actually an iron content of 2O3 (ferric iron oxide), for flat glass in the selection 0.040 to 0.1% Fe2O3 and also for coloured glass containers 0.25% to 0.3% Fe2O3.

Global sand also sources are big and widespcheck out and rather unquantifiable. However, in regards to production, 140m tonnes silica sand was created in 2012, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). Some 49m tonnes of this sand also were produced in the US, through about 17% of this being provided to make glass.

While resources and also production are on a huge range, a number of limitations neighboring silica sand also exist global including geographical distribution - which have the right to often be a costly and also uneconomic exercise - environmental constraints - regarded potential wellness threats linked with the use of silica sand - and also top quality requirements for usage, as outlined above.

Soda ash

The glass market is the biggest customer of soda ash, particularly the glass-container sector. Soda ash has been supplied in glass production for more than 5,500 years <Industrial Minerals and also Rocks, 7th Edition> and also continues to be provided in the sector this particular day.

Soda ash is a resource of sodium oxide that is used as a fluxing agent in container, fibre, and speciality glass manufacturing to mitigate the temperature at which the raw products, such as silica sand, melt. Soda ash additionally decomposes right into sodium oxide and carbon dioxide, which rises with the glass melt and helps mix the ingredients.

In terms of supply, China ongoing to dominate last year, producing 23m tonnes in 2011, according to latest USGS information. The US followed, creating 14.5m tonnes in 2011, through a total worth of roughly $1.3bn.

“China proceeds to be the largest and also fastest-growing industry for soda ash. Due to its dimension and the persistent over-capacity in the Chinese market, it likewise has actually a solid affect on vital industries for soda ash trade - Asia, and also to a lesser level, Latin America,” FMC Corp., the Wyoming, US-based producer, told IM.

However before, while the usual players are continuing to create within expectations, tbelow are brand-new entrants to the market, including some from arising nations.

“In developing nations, the soda ash is flourishing by 5%; in the US and also Europe demand also is secure. Total development is 2m tpa - 1m tpa in China 1m in the remainder of the civilization,” Novacarb, the France-based soda ash producer, told IM.

Turkey is a nation that emerged as a key soda ash producer in 2012, via more than 2m tonnes of capacity logged in 2011.

“China continues to lead the means for brand-new capacity coming on-stream, and Turkey has actually emerged as a new player via excellent access to European and also Center Eastern sectors,” Dennis Kostick at the USGS told IM.


The recycling of glass has actually carried the cost of residential container glass production down by considerable amounts as cullet, the mixture of offered glass broken dvery own to be recycled, is offered to replace component of the silica requirements in a glass batch. Cullet also has actually a a lot reduced melting temperature - about 20-25% listed below a typical batch - additionally reducing the expense by lowering the amount of flux required.

Image: FEVE
“Glass recycling is an increasingly essential input right into container glass manufacturing. <É> even more than 68% <2010 data> of glass bottles and also jars put on the industry are built up for recycling and also most of them are recycled in a bottle-to-bottle, closed-loop recycling device,” the European Container Glass Federation (Feve) told IM.

that, once produced, glass have the right to be offered over and also over aget without down-cycling and by reducing use of new minerals and raw materials and staying clear of waste generation. Glass is mono-material and does not call for any additional barriers to preserve food and also drinks, making its recycling particularly basic. This is a great illustration of just how a circular economic situation for packaging deserve to work-related,” Feve included.

For eexceptionally tonne of recycled glass, 1.2m tonnes of virgin raw products are conserved in the melting process, according to the federation. This is incredibly important for the container glass industry bereason by utilizing recycled glass also reduces the amount of energy supplied and also CO2 emitted.

“It has actually a big contribution to the sustaincapacity of the industry. That is why some of the mineral companies (for example Sibelco) are investing in recycling facilities (for example Pate),” Feve told IM.

While this is positive news for container glass manufactures, it is not so good for soda ash producers, which have actually viewed decreased demand also because the global press to recycle acquired undermethod in earnest.


Feldspar acts as a fluxing agent in glass making and is provided to bring the melting temperature of silica down. It is additionally a stabiliser. Stabilisers impart to the glass a high level of resistance to physical and chemical attacks. Fluxes are oxides, including potassium oxide (K2O) and also sodium oxide (Na2O) and also stabilisers can be oxides such as alumina (Al2O3) <Industrial Minerals and Rocks, 7th Edition>.

During glass manufacture, feldspar has actually 2 functions, acting as a flux by providing alkaline oxides (K2O and also Na2O) and as a stabiliser by offering alumina and also calcium oxide. A typical batch for container glass has about 8% feldspar, according to Roskill Information Services.

Feldspar is the most abundant group of minerals in the Earth’s crust, creating around 60% of terrestrial rocks. Feldspar reserves are uncovered in various countries, consisting of India, Czech Republic, Portugal and Poland among others. Turcrucial and also Italy are the peak 2 developing countries, accounting for about 50% of the civilization production via practically 10m tpa in 2012, according to USGS estimates.

Identified and theoretical resources of feldspar are even more than sufficient to meet anticipated world demand, the USGS included, which states that quantitative information on resources of feldspar existing in feldspathic sands, granites, and also pegmatites primarily have not been compiled.

“Ample geologic evidence shows that resources are big, although not constantly conveniently obtainable to the major centres of usage,” it said in its most recent feldspar report.

Other materials that have the right to be supplied for glassmaking encompass fluorspar, lime, chromite, olivine, staurolite and zircon sands, according to the USGS.

Glass markets: manage with care

Soda-lime glass, while the the majority of abundantly produced create of glass, has knowledgeable experimentation times throughout the previous few years as the international financial crisis substantially slowed the amount of brand-new building and also the amount of manufacturing global.

Glass was hit hard by a crash in the worldwide housing industry in the time of the period 2008-2012. This collapse, in turn, led to the prices for some minerals provided to create glass - such as soda ash - to dip to the suggest where prices for the mineral were as low as they can feasibly go.

Other glass-making use of industries, such as vehicle manufacturing, likewise took a knock, which again filtered down to the raw materials demand level.

In spite of this, worldwide chemicals company Solvay, the world’s number one artificial soda ash producer, sassist that a drop in demand for flat glass in the building and construction and also automotive industries was buoyed by solid performance in the container glass sector.

Feve agreed with this statement, telling IM: “The container glass market produces some 20m tpa glass. In terms of tonnage, the biggest markets for the container glass market is the beverage sector. Beer, spirits and also wines account for the biggest share. Overall, glass packaging represents one-3rd of the European beverage industry in units.”

“While the beverage industry is vital, the food sector is increasingly providing a critical expansion opportunity for glass packaging. This is definitely connected to new sector fads orientated by consumers demand also for high-quality, organic, organic food. More than any kind of various other material, glass can ideal communicate to consumers these product attributes. Glass is a packaging reference for brands and for consumers,” the federation included.

While some glass sectors dipped in 2012, this year has actually already begun to present some promise. In the real estate sector, for example, 23 sectors have demonstrated better year-on-year statistics in Q3 2012 compared with Q3 2011, according to a report by Global Property Guide. Recoexceptionally of the US real estate industry has actually been particularly noticeable, with growth in Q3 2012 being the greatest since Q2 2006, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the Guide reported.

“Undoubtedly our sector saw a dip in the time of the crisis years, yet we watch that we are currently practically ago to the pre-crisis levels in terms of tonnage. According to latest obtainable figures

, glass packaging manufacturing quantities in Europe thrived by 1.9%. The growth is in response to the raising demand also on the residential and exterior EU sectors. This builds on the positive trfinish videotaped in 2011,” Feve told IM.

“Regardless of the unsecure financial and also financial crisis that negatively affects the whole European manufacturing sector, these records shed a positive light on the stcapability and future prosperity of the European container glass sector. This is absolutely because of the truth that consumers proceed to have a solid choice for glass - 74% of consumers would recommfinish glass as a packaging product ,” the federation added.

In spite of these encouraging results, the impact of the worldwide economic crisis is still evident throughout the glass market.

Increased manufacturing expenses, unilateral CO2 expenses, fluctuating and also unfavourable exreadjust prices, and high work costs hamper the expense competitiveness at international level of the container glass sector, Feve shelp,

“Incorporated, these obstacles delay permanent investment decisions and also, rather, end up being incentives for delocalisation of production sites and also R&D investments exterior EU to more market friendly atmospheres with lower prices,” it added.

Glass fibre

Glass fibre is comprised of mass, chopped fibres or strands of glass and sturdy plastic resin. It is provided in reinforcing plastics and also composites and also various other specialised electrical and also thermal applications.

Minerals used in the creation of glass fibre are equivalent to those employed in the production of various other forms of glass. These encompass silica sand also, limerock, soda ash, boprices, kaolin, lithium minerals, potash, feldspar, fluorspar and sodium sulphate.

The most prevalent glass fibre is a calcium-alumina borosilicate with an alkali content of much less than 1%. It is typically well-known as e-type glass, considering that it was initially arisen for use in electrical insulation systems.

E-form glass was produced in the 1950s to insulate electronic devices. Today, supplies for glass fibre include mats, thermal insulation, electrical insulation, sound insulation, reinforcement of various products, tent poles, sound absorption, heat- and corrosion-resistant fabrics and auto bodies.

Glass fibre is supplied in customer products such as warm tubs, bath tubs and boats. It is also offered in water storage tanks, for pipes in the oil and also gas sector, as well as in households and also workplaces, in roofing and cladding.

Glass fibre manufacturing

Glass fibres are created by running molten glass from a direct-melt heater into a platinum alloy bushing containing a huge variety of small holes, from each of which a glass filament is attracted.

Filaments for commercial use are usually between nine and also 15 microns in diameter. The filaments are layered via an emulsion before being gathered right into fibres.

The fibres are solid and they have actually great electric properties. They are additionally resistant to most chemicals and also moisture wear. They are non-combustible, with a melting allude approximately 1,500ºC.

Glass fibre sector

The fastest-flourishing market sector for glass fibre is in insulation, as populaces end up being even more concerned through energy conservation. The European Union’s press to enhance power usage by 20% by 2020 has checked out many kind of governments sell complimentary or subsidised insulation and this is welcome news for glass fibre minerals such as kaolin and also boprices.

Outside of the EU, Russia is aiming to alleviate energy intake by 40% in 2020 and China has invested greatly in rebuilding ‘energy poor’ housing and has pledged $23bn for energy reliable tasks.

The Obama management in the US has actually released ambitious energy-saving campaigns, including a $2,000 tax credit for residential homeowners that insulate properly and also make their existing properties more energy effective.

In Australia, the government pledged in 2009 to install cost-free ceiling insulation in about 2.7m dwellings under the Energy Efficient Homes Package. However before, the Home Insulation Programme was later shelved in favour of a new plan and also then abandoned in April 2010. The plan was controversial, due to worker fatalities while installing the insulation, and costly, as a result of compensation payment.


The fact that glass is challenged with financial obstacles is viewed as a minor hurdle for many kind of working in the sector, even at the industrial minerals level, as glass stays the number-one option industrial minerals producers of borates, silica sand also and soda ash. This is because it is used for many industries including vehicle, tableware, cosmetics and building.

This ongoing sector demand will certainly, consequently, rise the contact for commercial minerals such as soda ash, silica, limestone and fluxes including feldspar.

Glass is additionally classed as a product of the future as it is recyclable, re-usable and refillable.

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“This makes it absolutely a reference for the circular economic climate - wbelow there is a huge change from the straight economy design to the circular model. This is based on recycling, which closes the loop,” Feve said.