The construction industry seems to be facing some surprising challenges today. While having difficulties adapting to new technology seems like something understandable, the fact that it’s also getting harder for it to get materials like sand in adequate quantities is certainly something completely unexpected.
So yes, we are running out of the seemingly infinite thing known as sand, which is an essential material for making concrete. Sand has a variety of uses, such as making glass, aeronautics as well as electronics, but the most sand-hungry industry out there is construction.
And as the global demand for it keeps increasing at an alarming rate every year, the supply of sand definitely seems to be falling short of adequacy.
A few important surveys have revealed that the construction industry alone demands as much as around 30 billion tons of sand every year. This figure actually ends up at around 44 billion tons a year if the consumption of other related sub-industries such as land reclamation, concrete roadways and embankments is taken into account.
Some of the biggest producers of concrete in the world are China, India, Brazil and the US. But China and India alone account for about two-third of the total concrete production in the world.
When it comes to the consumption of sand, though, there’s absolutely no competition. China is the biggest sand-consuming country in the world by a surprisingly high margin. No other countries even come near to it when it comes to the demand for sand.
Such worryingly huge demand of sand in China is primarily because of insane expansion of some of its megacities. Sand consumption in the country has gone up by a disturbing 437 percent in the past 20 years, while the demand in the rest of the world has only grown by around 58 percent.
Well, the thing is that there’s more than enough sand in world’s desert to easily satisfy the growing demand of sand. However, most of the sand in these deserts, if not all, is pretty much useless to be utilized in any productive activities.
This is because it’s usually eroded by winds than water, which makes it way too fine to be used for most things it’s usually required for, particularly for the construction industry.
As far as the sources of sand are concerned, they usually only used to be riverbanks and quarries until recently. But in order to deal with the enormously growing demand, even beaches and marines are being used for sand mining.
Damage Caused by Sand Mining
Sand mining is usually hard on the environment. It leads to huge loss of biodiversity and land, floods, and even tends to cause huge damages to the infrastructure like embankments and bridges. Water pollution and damage to beaches in and around the areas where sand mining is done, too, are common issues associated with it.
Sand mining can lead to significantly more damages in some areas than others, and hence the governments have stepped in and laid down some strict regulations to control sand extraction in such areas.