The Global Construction Sand Shortage

Is the world really running out of sand? It seems impossible, what with our miles of pristine beaches, endless deserts and infinite amount of sand our planet has to offer. Unfortunately, the world’s sand supplies aren’t infinite and we could run out of sand, construction sand at least, by the year 2020 in some parts of the world. How can that be, you ask?

With the over-exploitation of global sand supplies causing damage to the environment, endangering communities and promoting violent conflict around the world, our “infinite” supply of sand could soon be depleted. When you combine an increasingly high demand and almost no mining regulations, you get an overlooked issue that has the ability to affect each and every one of us, regardless of where we live.

While governments and scientists are studying global infrastructures and how they can become more efficient to travel, trade and communities, they have overlooked the fact that the construction minerals such as gravel and sand needed to build those roads, bridges and other structures, are being depleted at an alarming rate.

Surpassing fossil fuels and biomass, construction sand is now one of the most extracted materials in the world. In 2010 alone, about 11 billion tonnes of sand was mined for construction use. That figure has increased by 24% in the past five years!

Demand for Sand Driving Up Prices

Regional shortages around the world has resulted in sand mining bans meaning those areas must import sand from other sand producing countries causing new shortages in these areas as well. As a globalised commodity, construction sand’s value has increased more than 600% in the last 25 years.

Although we don’t hear about this issue and there is a severe lack of media coverage, organisations including the United Nations Environment Programme are focusing their efforts to find a solution to this global problem. By regulating sand use, extraction and trade, perhaps we can slow down the rate at which this natural resource is being depleted and ensure a supply for future construction use around the world.

Innovative Solutions Are Needed

Soon, we will start to feel the consequences of the ever-growing shortage of sand, with the increasing costs being passed down the supply chain to builders, developers and finally ourselves as home owners. This will require us to find other innovative solutions to overcome this and other problems such as the increasing scarcity of fresh water. Finding alternative building materials is a start as this will help reduce demand discouraging illegal sand mining.
JCF Property Management are always looking for new and innovative ideas, especially ones that will benefit our clients and tenants in the future.

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