desert sand

Global Depletion of Sand Used in Concrete, Asphalt, Glass, and Mining Now Affecting Construction and Mining Costs and leading to Potential Theft and International Conflict

While viewed as a seemingly limitless natural resource, the levels of certain kinds of sand have started to steadily decrease as the world’s need for further development increases. The sand that is gathered for building resources has almost caught up to the sand that is naturally made.

Sand is an essential item required for building and construction. It is a key component of concrete, asphalt, and glass that are used to structure nearly every building. It also accounts for 80% of all mining activity across the globe, according to a 2014 United Nations Environment Program report.

The demand is now higher than ever while the levels available are low worldwide. It is even the subject of major theft, especially in urban areas pushing for advanced innovation such as the United States. Some even estimate that the aggregate business shares involving sand are already worth $70 billion in annual sales. The importance of this resource is only further proven as “sand mafias” in India are willing to sell sand they mined illegally on the black market. Without a steady supply of sand, many believe urban and suburban development will slow significantly.

The importance and depletion of sand have caused many to push for the building of sand mining quarries. Ideally, these would be located closer to heavy construction areas in hopes of keeping sand prices low and easily available. On the other side though, many in these residential areas have found these pits to be a burden on them as the noise, sight, and scent pollution lower real-estate values.

Residents associations have come together in hopes of shutting down these mining infrastructures and have already succeeded in shutting down three pit and quarry applications in the past decade. The provincial government is also limiting these developments by expanding protected areas. There are a number of reasons for this strong disapproval, including both health and financial struggles that come with living near a mining location. These structures are not often the most pretty to look at or smell, and they definitely are not the safest for people or the environment; both of these factors will have a major impact on the value of the area and could take a great toll on residents’ health as well as their wallets.

Bob Shapton, the spokesman for Pitsense, an anti-aggregate development group, has much to say on the situation and has stated that, “The neighbors adjacent to any of these developments are suffering from the prospect of health impacts and the prospect of the certainty of the diminution in property values which the operators deny,”.

Going forward, Shapton believes that if those proposing the new sites would simply be willing to list the issues and compensate residents for their troubles and losses, then they may be more agreeable in the future.

Also, companies are now researching the development of substances to replace sand in building components and which will lead to new products.

Those who are interested in gaining more information about cases like this, or who want to keep up-to-date on the latest legal proceedings, check out the Newman & Shapiro Whistleblower Help Center and blog!