Our history

Sibelco was founded in 1872, initially supplying silica sand from deposits in Flanders to Belgium’s major glass producers. Our association with the UK clay industry stretches back even further. Today, Sibelco is a global material solutions business, operating 118 production sites in 31 countries with a team of over 5,000 people.



Sablières et Carrières Réunies (today known as SCR-Sibelco) is founded in Belgium by industrialist Antoon Van Eetvelde and Crédit Général Liégois. They give their sand quarries limited company status and SCR is born on 4th April 1872. The young company, with ambitions to mine quartz sand for industrial applications grows quickly and is soon ready to trade internationally. Export to the UK is established by 1880 and the first activities in Nivelstein (Germany) begin.



By now several producers are active in the Campine (Flanders) region, leading to a highly competitive market with new companies emerging. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Emsens family acquire hundreds of hectares of land in Lommel for mining silica sand. As sand extraction increases, the first mechanised quarry is opened, powered by steam engine.



Nouvelles Sablières de Mol emerges as the latest player in the Campine sand industry, whilst SCR electrifies its Schans quarry. The region’s sand is already being used in a wide variety of applications including glass, crystal and ceramics. Of the many sand quarry operators active at the end of the 19th century, only SCR and Nouvelles Sablières de Mol would survive the First World War.



SCR takes over Anciennes Sablières and begins to focus strongly on technology. The company builds its first high-tech laboratory and incorporates a sieve, boosters, loaders, sand basins and a railway connection within its operation. This supports major geographical expansion in the 1930s, which will ultimately help SCR to recover from the impact of the First World War.



SCR constructs its first plant for drying and grinding silica sand, including a unique hydro-classification system to divide mineral sludge into fine and coarse flows. By the end of the 1930’s, SCR is producing six grades of sand. This technology will later serve as a model in Sibelco’s expansion worldwide.



To win back markets and create further growth, the development of new technologies is prioritised. In 1955, SCR sets up a new plant in Dessel for drying and grinding a special type of quartz sand known as Sibelco (a name derived from Compagnie Belge des Silices). Sibelco is established with its headquarters in Antwerp. The new Dessel plant subsequently serves as a model for other Sibelco facilities.



During the 1960s Sibelco grows as a European market player, constructing its own loading facilities in the port of Antwerp whilst expanding operations in France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Portugal.



In 1970 Unimin Corporation is established and three years later is the largest North American producer of silica sand. Unimin is later integrated within Sibelco, further boosting the Group’s technical knowhow. In 1978 Sibelco takes a foothold in South America, constructing a quartz sand plant in the Brazilian province of São Paulo.



Sibelco moves into the clay industry through the acquisition of stakes in the international WBB Group, thereby adding ball clay and kaolin to its mineral portfolio. This helps Sibelco to develop new markets in ceramics including sanitaryware, tiles, tableware and construction.



Sibelco diversifies through acquisitions worldwide, including Canada, Norway, UK, Mexico, Ukraine, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Thailand. Through strong technical knowhow, high-quality mineral reserves and a leading product range, Sibelco achieves significant growth as an international player.



Sibelco expands into complementary minerals businesses, including glass recycling (cullet) in Europe, and mineral sands and magnesia in Australia. The company sees further growth in the US and invests in Eastern Europe through acquisitions in Russia and Ukraine.



Sibelco merges its North American sand assets with those of US competitor, Fairmont Santrol, to create an industry-leading proppant and materials solutions provider serving energy and industrial customers.



Sibelco is a global material solutions company. We source, transform and deliver speciality industrial minerals with a strong focus on silica, clays, feldspathics, olivine and cullet (recycled glass). Everything we do is guided by our purpose: materials solutions advancing life.

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