Silica Sand (Proppant)

Silica sand is a loose fine-grained granular material consisting chemically of silicon dioxide. Silica sand has a wide range of everyday uses with various applications including glassmaking, paints, coatings, ceramics, refractories, construction material, industrial abrasives, water filtration, sport fields, and others.

Silica sand is known as proppant (frac sand) when mixed with fluid and used during the hydraulic fracturing process of rocks. Proppants are solid materials designed to keep an induced hydraulic fracture open, during or following a fracturing treatment. Other categories of proppant include resin-coated sand and ceramic beads.

Featured Projects

Preston Mine

  • Client: Source Energy Services Ltd.
  • Commodities: Silica Sand (Proppant)
  • GPS: 44.32, -91.26


  • Client: Canadian Premium Sand Inc.
  • Commodities: Silica Sand (Proppant)
  • GPS: 51.16, -96.33

Sumner Mine

  • Client: Source Energy Services Ltd.
  • Commodities: Silica Sand (Proppant)
  • GPS: 45.40, -91.62
Project Placeholder

Big Molly Mine

  • Client: Wayfinder Corp.
  • Commodities: Silica Sand (Proppant)
  • GPS: 53.79, -114.52
Project Placeholder

Firebag Property

  • Client: Athabasca Minerals Inc.
  • Commodities: Silica Sand (Proppant)
  • GPS: 57.58, -111.28

Exploration Challenges

The demand for proppants has recently increased as oil and natural gas wells are being made to yield more oil and gas using hydraulic fracturing and companies are driven towards the recovery of unconventional energy resources. Thousands of tons of proppant can be required for one project, which makes the demand for proppant even higher. The global demand for proppant is expected to increase by 5% by 2032, highlighting the need for more exploration work to be conducted.

How APEX Helps

APEX has completed silica sand exploration and Mineral Resource Estimations for projects that range from early-stage exploration projects through to mine operations that produce over two million metric tonnes of proppant per year.

APEX has conducted exploration management programs overseeing drill targeting, drilling methodologies and logistics, logging and sampling, Quality Assurance – Quality Control, sample chain of custody and laboratory management. Particle grain size distribution analysis at appropriate size intervals and proppant characterization analytical work to determine quality are critical components of silica sand deposit evaluation, and mineral resource estimation and classification.

APEX has completed three-dimensional geological models, mineral resource estimations and associated technical reports for numerous projects. The modelling and estimation process includes preparation, determination and interpretation of data summary and histograms, drillhole database validation, the MICROMINE database, quality assurance and quality control, lithological model/lode interpretation, grain size summary statistics, drillhole flagging and composting, search ellipsoids, bulk density, block model extents, block model size, and model validation (visual, statistical, and easting, and northing and elevation comparisons).

The evaluation, estimation and mineral resource Technical Reports are prepared in accordance with:

  • Proppant characterization in accordance with International Standard ISO 13503-2:2006/ Amd.1:2009E Standard specification for test sieves as outlined in American Society of the International Association for Testing and Materials (“ASTM”) E11 (ASTM, 1995)
  • Canadian Securities Administration’s NI 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects, Form 43-101F1 Technical Report and related consequential amendments
  • Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s “Estimation of Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves Best Practice Guidelines” dated November 23rd, 2003 and “Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves” amended and adopted May 10, 2014.

Consultants Involved

Roy Eccles
MSc, P. Geol., P. Geo. Chief Operation Officer
Steve Nicholls
BA.Sc., MAIG Country Manager - Australia
Warren Black
MSc, P.Geo. Senior Geologist & Geostatistician
Tyler Acorn
MSc Engineer and Geostatistician