How Much Sand Is Left In The World, When Will We Run Out, & What Happens If We Do?

In the guide below, we discuss a range of factors relevant to the global supply of sand (as a resource/raw material).

We outline factors such as how much sand might be left in the world, when we might run out, what happens if we do, how a sand shortage might be prevented, and other relevant aspects of sand as a resource/raw material in society.


Summary – The World’s Sand Resources

Importance Of Sand As A Resource

Sand is critical to the everyday functioning of society because of the number of uses it has in materials, products, etc.

Sand related industries, such as sand extraction, also contribute significantly to the world economy 


Which Type Of Sand Do We Use The Most As A Resource/Raw Material?

Although there is a lot of sand in deserts, desert sand is mostly the wrong shape – it’s too smooth and round to use for many of the uses we need sand for

We mainly use angular sands that have the ability to lock together, especially in construction

We mainly get these sands from the bottom of rivers (i.e. riverbeds), lakes, and coastlines and beaches.

We can also get suitable sands from seabeds


Main Uses For Sand Across Society

One of the main uses of sand is for construction related activities, materials and products

Sand is used for cement in concrete, and concrete is often used in homes, buildings, and other types of construction.

Sand is also used in roads and highways, and other types of infrastructure like bridges.

Another key use is for land reclamation – to create artificial land and islands, and expand shorelines in countries that are land scarce

Sand is also used in glass, as well as a range of electronics and technology products

Sand is used for other uses across society which we list in the guide below


How Much Sand We Currently Use/Consume

Various reports indicate we may not know exactly how much sand we us each year

However, global sand use might be estimated by tracking how much cement we use (as we use sand and gravel in cement)

Several estimates indicate that we currently use around 50 billion tons of sand a year – although, this number may only represent the amount of sand used in construction, and not some other uses of sand across society

Another report indicates that the rate at which we use sand has tripled over the last two decades, with urbanisation playing a significant role in this increase

We currently use more gravel, sand and crushed rock than any other raw material or resource, with the exception of water

In the guide below, we list the countries that use the most sand, and also touch upon sand exporting and importing countries


Will We Use More Sand In The Future? – Reasons For Increased Sand Use

Urbanisation and expansion of cities that requires more construction (particularly in developing regions of the world), population growth, and more people moving to cities are all reasons that sand consumption is expected to increase in the future


How Much More Sand Will We Use In The Future?

Some estimates say that that increase could be by as much as 45% by the year 2060


Is Sand A Renewable Resource? – How Fast Is Sand Replenished?

Over the course of a human lifetime, sand is not a renewable resource

Sand is currently being consumed at faster rates than what it’s being replenished according to various reports


How Much Sand Is Left In The World?

Some reports provide information on the number of grains of sand in the world

But, there might not be a reliable way right now to estimate what the remaining sand reserves are on Earth (that we use for key uses across society)

It might be possible to physically look at the main sand mining and extraction sites for signs of erosion to see how close they might be to running out of sand


Is There Currently A Sand Shortage?

Some reports say that sand may be experiencing a shortage in some cities or towns

The price and availability of sand can be a few indicators of it’s scarcity at any one particular time


When Will We Run Out Of Sand?

It’s difficult to say when we might run out of sand if we don’t know the proven sand reserves, along with other key sand resources data.

But, it might be accurate to say that as long as consumption rates continue to be higher than replenishment rates, we risk sand scarcity sooner rather than later.


What Happens If We Run Out Of Sand, Or, If Sand Consumption Rates Don’t Become More Sustainable?

There might be a range of things that might happen, such as the price of sand and the things that use sand increasing, there being less sand for the critical uses of sand across society, and, the impact of sand extraction, mining and dredging becoming more noticeable or extreme.


Potential Solutions To Address Sand Scarcity

There’s several potential solutions listed in the guide below

Some of the major solutions might be using sand more efficiently or cutting the demand for sand in construction, using alternatives to sand where possible, and also recycling concrete and other sand containing materials and products (like glass) where possible.


Potential Negative Impact Of Sand Mining, Dredging, & Extraction, & How To Address It

Sand mining, dredging and extraction might have a range of potential negative side effects to consider – environmental, social, and so on

We list some in the guide below


Firstly, What Is Sand?

Sand is composed of sediment grains of weathered rock (we’ve previously written about how soils and sands form in this guide)

A large % of the world’s sand contains mineral quartz (composed of oxygen and silica)


Why Is Sand Important As A Resource/Raw Material?

A few of the key reasons might be that:

– We use sand as a raw material/resource for many key uses across society

Therefore, it helps fulfil many key functions


[Sand is] ‘… an essential ingredient to our everyday lives’ [and] Our entire society is built on sand (


‘… sand is a critical ingredient of our lives. It is the primary raw material that modern cities are made from’ (


– Industries that use sand make a large contribution to the economy

As one example, mentions that ‘… sand extraction is a $70 billion industry’


What Type Of Sand Do We Use The Most, & Where Does It Come From?

Main Places Where Sand Forms Across The World


Beaches and coastlines/shorelines

The beds of bodies of fresh water like rivers and lakes

Ocean/sea floors


What Type Of Sand We Use The Most, & Why

We mostly use angular sand, and not smooth, round sand.



[Most of the sand we use is] ‘marine sand.’

We need angular sand that interlocks like pieces to a puzzle … Like the sand generated from mountain rocks, pelted by rain, wind, and rivers for over 25 thousand years 


The sand that is highly sought after is more angular and can lock together (



The sand we need is [angular sand]  

Demand for high-purity silica sands, which are used to make glass as well as high-tech products like solar panels and computer chips, is also soaring.

America’s surging fracking industry also needs the extra-durable high-purity grains. 


What Type Of Sand Is Unsuitable For Most Uses, & Why

Desert sand is mostly unsuitable because it’s the wrong shape – it’s too round and too smooth.



… we can’t use sand from the desert. Wind erosion makes the grains too round for most purposes

[ notes how there is only a think layer of sand on ocean floors, and there’s a range of issues that would be created by removing it]



[Not all sand on Earth] is useful.

Desert sand grains, eroded by the wind rather than water, is too smooth and rounded to bind together for construction purposes.



Desert sand is largely useless to us.

The overwhelming bulk of the sand we harvest goes to make concrete, and for that purpose, desert sand grains are the wrong shape.

Eroded by wind rather than water, they are too smooth and rounded to lock together to form stable concrete. 


Where Suitable Sand Comes From

Riverbeds, lakebeds, quarries, and beaches and coastlines are where the most suitable sands are mined and extracted from.



[Marine sand comes from] the bottom of rivers, and on beaches and at the bottom of lakes and oceans.”

The easiest, cheapest and best quality sand actually comes from riverbeds [and riverbed sand is] very easy to get …


[Angular sand that can lock together] … is typically sourced and extracted from seabeds, coastlines, quarries and rivers around the world (



[Angular sand] the more angular stuff found in the beds, banks, and floodplains of rivers, as well as in lakes and on the seashore. 

Sand is extracted on an industrial scale from rivers, lakes and beaches around the world to meet the global demand

Sand for construction is most often mined from rivers …

[For the creation of artificial land, new islands and to extend shorelines on coasts … we use] dredging ships [to] vacuum up millions of tonnes of sand from the sea floor each year …


[We find jagged, angular grains, and also silica sand, in riverbeds and banks, in lakes and along shorelines] (


Examples Of Places In The World Where Significant Sand Mining & Dredging Takes Place


Most of [China’s sand] comes from dredging Poyang Lake. An estimated 236 cubic metes of sand are taken from it every year, making it the largest single sand mine in the world

[San Jacinto River in Houston is an] excellent source of sand [in the US]. It has been mined very heavily for sand for the past ten, twenty years


What We Use Sand For Across Society

Some of the main uses for sand, and products and services that use sand as an ingredient include:

– Concrete

From [Sand is] used to make key construction materials like concrete and glass


The major player for sand usage is concrete … Concrete is made of 10% cement (lime and Clay) 15% water and … 75% sand (


– Many types of construction and infrastructure that use concrete

Such as houses, shopping malls, hospitals, bridges, and so on


Sand is in virtually every construction or manufacturing process (


Creating buildings to house [the billions of people that live in urban areas and the billions more that will join them in the next few decades], along with the roads to knit them together, requires prodigious quantities of sand (


– Highways and roads

Many roads ‘… are largely just sand and gravel glued together’ (


– To make new artificial land, and extend land and shorelines

Sand is used to make new land, new islands and extend shorelines in some land scarce countries, as a part of ‘land reclamation’



[Sand is] used to manufacture [artificial land by vacuuming up sand from the sea]

[Dubai, Lagos in Nigeria, and China are examples of places that have created islands or added to their shorelines in recent history]

… Singapore [is] a world leader in land reclamation. To create more space for its nearly six million residents, the jam-packed city-state has built out its territory with an additional 50 sq miles (130 sq km) of land over the past 40 years, almost all of it with sand imported from other countries.

… human beings since 1985 have added 5,237 sq miles (13,563 sq km) of artificial land to the world’s coasts – an area about as big as the nation of Jamaica. Most of it built with gargantuan amounts of sand.



China is also using tons of sand to build up islands in the South China Sea, expanding its foothold in the region

[Dubai in the UAE has also engaged in island building projects that required, and imported sand from Australia to construct the Burj Khalifa]


– A range of glass products

The glass in every window, windshield, and smart phone screen is made of melted-down sand (


Sand, gravel and rock crushed together are melted down to make the glass used in every window … (


– A range of electronics and technology products

… silicon chips inside our phones and computers – along with virtually every other piece of electronic equipment in your home – are made from sand (


Sand, gravel and rock crushed together are melted down to make the glass used in every … computer screen and smart phone [and sand is also used in] the production of silicon chips … (


– Other uses

‘[Sand is also used to make] … food, wine, toothpaste, glass, computer chips, breast implants, cosmetics, paper, paint, plastics (


Sand is the primary substance used in the construction of roads, bridges, high-speed trains and even land regeneration projects (


From [We melt down silica sand to make] glass windows, windshields and smartphone screens lists more uses of sand in their guide


How Much Sand Do We Currently Use/Consume?

Some of the different considerations and ways to answer this question include:

– Understanding that the exact amount of sand we use each year might be an estimation only

– Tracking the use of sand in cement/concrete might be one of the most reliable ways we have to calculate total sand consumption across society

– Looking at the total amount of sand we use, on a tons per year basis

– Looking at the total amount of sand we use, on a gigatonnes per year basis, when combined with gravel and crushed rock

– Looking at the rate at which we use sand

– Looking at how much sand we use compared to other raw materials in general

– Looking at what % share sand makes up of total raw materials usage

– Looking at countries that use the most sand


The Amount Of Sand We Use May Be An Estimation Only

The reason for this is that there may be no one specific way to reliably calculate total sand usage.


At present, no one even knows exactly how much sand is being pulled out of the earth, nor where, nor under what conditions. Much of it is undocumented. “We just know,” … “that the more people there are, the more sand we need.” (


From At present, it is not possible to accurately monitor global sand use.


The Relationship Between Cement & Aggregate Use, & The Amount of Sand We Use

Something that can accurately be reliably calculated is the amount of sand used in concrete, and we also know that this is one of the major uses for sand across society.


From [Global sand use] could be measured indirectly [with a] “very, very good” correlation between the use of sand and cement.



The global use of sand and gravels has been found to be 10 times higher than that of cement.

This means that, for construction alone, the world consumes roughly 40 to 50 billion tons of sand on an annual basis.

That’s enough to build a wall of 27 meters high by 27 meters wide that wraps around the planet every year on aggregate use and sand use: People use some 50 billion tonnes of “aggregate” – the industry term for sand and gravel, which tend to be found together – every year. That’s more than enough to blanket the entire United Kingdom. notes that ‘… every tonne of cement requires between six and seven times that amount of sand to produce’ [so, tracking cement production might be a good way to track sand consumption]


Total Amount Of Sand We Use Per Year – In Tons

Various estimates put the total use of sand at around 50 billion tons per year.


Worldwide, we go through 50 billion tons of sand every year. That is twice the amount produced by every river in the world (


Globally, our annual aggregate consumption [of sand] is around 53 billion tonnes (


Total Amount Of Sand, Gravel & Crushed Rock Used – In Gigatonnes

One estimate puts the total amount of sand, gravel and crushed rock use at over 25 gigatonnes. has a chart showing the consumption (in gigatonnes) of some of the most consumed resources and materials on a global scale in 2017

Sand, gravel and crushed rock as a combination lead all other resources/materials in terms of total consumption, at over 25 gigatonnes

The next closest is metals at less than 10 gigatonnes


The Rate At Which We Use Sand

‘The global rate of sand use … has tripled over the last two decades partially as a result of surging urbanization …’ (


Sand Consumption Compared To Other Raw Materials

Sand is one of the most used raw materials in society.


From ‘After air and water, sand is our most used natural resource. We use it even more than oil’ indicates that sand is ‘… the world’s most consumed raw material after water …’


From ‘… sand is … the world’s second most consumed natural resource’


‘Sand is the single most mined commodity, eclipsing minerals and metals by a colossal margin. Around 85% of the material we pull up from the earth is sand, gravel and other aggregate materials. Sand is also the most consumed substance after water …’ (


Sand Consumption As A % Of All Raw Materials

From ‘Non-metallic minerals, such as sand, gravel, limestone and crushed rock account for more than half of total materials consumed today in Gigatonne terms’


Countries That Use The Most Sand

China appears to be one of the major users of sand across the world right now.



… cement … [needs] a lot of sand to make concrete.

Between 2011 and 2013, China used more concrete than the US did in the entire 20th century

China also outpaces the world in cement production. By a LOT: 2500 metric tons a year


From The UN estimates that 4.1 billion tons of cement is produced every year, driven primarily by China, which constitutes 58% of today’s sand-fueled construction boom.



In India, the amount of construction sand used annually has more than tripled since 2000, and is still rising fast.

China alone has likely used more sand this decade than the United States did in the entire 20th Century.

There is so much demand for certain types of construction sand that Dubai, which sits on the edge of an enormous desert, imports sand from Australia. 


Countries That Export & Import The Most Sand

There are various reports online that show the top importing and exporting countries of silica sand, in terms of $ and % share.

Some reports indicate that Singapore is currently a large importer of sand.

The US appears near the top of some sand export lists.


Will We Use More Sand In The Future? – Reasons For Increased Sand Use

Various reports, such as those from and for example, forecast that raw materials use and sand use will increase in the future

Some of the main reasons for this are an increasing total population size, more people moving to urban areas and cities, and continued developments in cities and urban areas that require buildings, roads, infrastructure etc

In the future, this will particularly happen in developing countries has a chart showing the consumption (in gigatonnes) of some of the most consumed resources and materials on a global scale in 2017, and also a projection of consumption by the year 2060.

Not only do sand, gravel and crushed rock currently lead all other resources/materials in terms of total consumption, but consumption is also projected to significantly increase by the year 2060 (and sand, gravel and crushed rock are still expected to lead all resources/materials by the year 2060).

Metals, coal and limestone are the most consumed resources/materials behind sand, gravel and crushed rock.


… we need more concrete every year, especially in developing countries, and especially with cities expanding (


Looking ahead, industrialization, population growth and urbanization are all trends likely to fuel explosive growth in the demand for sand (


… with rapid global urbanisation, particularly owning to economic growth across East Asia, the demand for sand is only increasing since the early 2000’s … ( notes that:

[The main driver of the current sand demand/supply] crisis is breakneck urbanisation 

Every year there are more and more people on the planet, with an ever growing number of them moving from the rural countryside into cities … especially in the developing world

Across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, cities are expanding at a pace and on a scale far greater than any time in human history.

The number of people living in urban areas has more than quadrupled since 1950 to some 4.2 billion today, and the United Nations predicts another 2.5 billion will join them in the next three decades. 


How Much More Sand Will We Use In The Future?

By 2060, we could use up to 45% more sand. indicates that sand, gravel and crushed rock consumption, in gigatonnes, could increase from just under 30 gigatonnes in 2017, to over 50 gigatonnes by the year 2060.



… global demand [of sand] could soar 45% by 2060 … global building sand demand will jump from 3.2 billion tonnes a year in 2020 to 4.6 billion tonnes by 2060, led by areas in Africa and Asia [based on] estimates of concrete and glass consumption, and the floor area needed in buildings.


Is Sand A Renewable Resource? – How Fast Is Sand Replenished?

Sand forms from the break down of rocks via weathering and erosion in nature

Formation rates/replenishment rates happen slowly, over the period of thousands to millions of years. We’ve previously put together a guide about the formation rates of soil (including sandy soils) here.

Comparatively, our consumption rate of sand is quite high

With this being the case, sand is not a renewable resource at this point in time indicates that sand consumption rates exceed sand replenishment rates right now:

‘The global rate of sand use — which has tripled over the last two decades partially as a result of surging urbanization — far exceeds the natural rate at which sand is being replenished by the weathering of rocks by wind and water.’ indicates that ‘… scientists estimate that weathering of mountains and rocks by rivers and glaciers delivers 12.6 billion tonnes of sediment to oceans each year [which equates to a rate of] extracting sand more than three times faster than nature can replenish it’ indicates: ‘Worldwide, we go through 50 billion tons of sand every year. That is twice the amount produced by every river in the world’ gives a case study of sand replenishment and extraction on the Mekong Delta River in Vietnam:

[Mining the Mekong River for sand leads to sand being pulled from the river at a faster rate than it is] … replenished by sediment carried down from the mountains of Central Asia by the Mekong River [which has been happening for centuries.]

According to a 2013 study by three French researchers, some 50 million tonnes of sand were extracted in 2011 alone – enough to cover the city of Denver two inches deep. 

… dams further diminish the flow of sediment to the delta.

[Essentially, in the case of the Delta, natural erosion and man made erosion is taking place, but natural replenishment is not happening]


How Much Sand Is Left In The World?

There are some estimates of the total number of grains of sand in the world – that number ranges from quintillions and quadrillions of grains of sand

However, as we noted elsewhere in this guide, not all sand can be used as raw material.

We currently don’t have any data that confirms proven reserves of useable sand left in the world.

From ‘… there is no reliable estimate for remaining sand reserves’

What w can do though is look for physical signs that we might be running out of suitable sand.

For example, there might be visible signs of erosion of riverbeds, lake beds, beaches, and other places where sand is extracted or mined.


Is There Currently A Sand Shortage?

According to various reports, there might be a sand shortage in some places.


… the world is facing a [sand] shortage [in some places] … (


… the world is facing a shortage of sand (


Are We Running Out Of Sand?

Even if we can’t say for sure how much sand is left in the world, consumption rates, replenishment rates, and information relating to sand shortages, might indicate that we are at risk of running out of sand if things don’t change.


We are running out of sand … (


When Will We Run Out Of Sand?

Because we don’t have data on proven reserves of sand left, we can’t say for certain when we will run out of sand.

What might be accurate to say however, is that if current consumption rates continue to outpace replenishment rates, we might reach a point where we reach sand scarcity sooner rather than later.

Some reports indicate that rising prices of sand (products that use sand such as houses) might indicate that sand supplies are decreasing.


What Happens If We Run Out Of Sand, Or, If Sand Consumption Rates Don’t Become More Sustainable?

If sand consumption rates don’t become more sustainable, or, if sand becomes more scarce as a resource, the following things might happen:


– The negative impacts of sand mining, extraction dredging might become more noticeable or pronounced


[Governments first noticed the negative environmental impact of sand mining and dredging in 2019] (



Almost 70% of Southern California’s spectacular beaches could be completely eroded by 2100 if we keep up current sand consumption rates

Worldwide, illegal sand mining has destroyed entire islands notes that ‘…at [the rate the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is having sand extracted from it], nearly half the [Mekong Delta] will be wiped out by the end of this century.


– There won’t be as much sand available to carry out everyday activities like construction related activities, and other for other uses of sand


From [If we don’t address the sand supply issue …] we will have massive problems about sand supply but also about land planning


– Products or services that require sand could become more expensive and unaffordable as the price of sand increases with a shrinking sand supply or decreasing sand availability



[Prices for sand will get higher as we run out. There’s speculation this has already a reason behind house prices going up as] that’s one of the critical inputs whenever you’re building a house, of course, is sand for the concrete

… the price of sand has about quintupled in the past 30-40 years …


How To Address The Sand Scarcity Problem – Potential Solutions

Core solutions aimed at the core issues that contribute to the sand scarcity problems might include:

– Reducing sand consumption or demand, especially in construction and urban development. This might include various forms of more sustainable construction, and city and urban development

– Finding sand substitutes in uses that use a lot of sand (such as concrete)

– Recycling concrete and other materials containing sand, like glass (e.g. some glass can be crushed and repurposed for use as glass sand in building materials and construction)

– Addressing population growth


Other potential solutions suggested by other reports might include …



[Solutions to address sand shortage concerns in the future might include] more efficient sand use, concrete re-use, building life extensions, lightweight designs, timber frames … [and] the single biggest reduction in sand use could come from more efficient use of space: allocating less floor space per person in buildings, sharing offices, and so on

[ has a graphic that demonstrates potential sand savings implementing these solutions vs. not implementing them] indicates that two of the biggest solutions could be more responsible use of sand in construction and infrastructure (i.e. reduce sand and gravel demand via design and construction), and also to recycle more concrete and other products containing sand to keep more sand in the economy.



We do have some alternatives [to sand mining and dredging] 

While crushing rocks and recycled concrete is expensive, it can be used to create concrete-quality sand.

Glass bottles can be ground to make ‘recycled glass sand’ to replenish beaches [which is safe and the glass won’t cut people] 

… better pricing and taxing on sand mining to encourage these alternatives.

… an immediate need for creating regulations in all countries, as well as international waters

Governments worldwide have begun to regulate and restrict sand mining and concrete production [but this has given rise to black markets for sand mining]



… five priorities for sand resource governance over the next two years [might include] cooperation on global standards across all sectors, cost-effective and viable alternatives to river and marine sand, updating environmental, social and corporate governance frameworks in the financial sector to include sand, bringing in ground-level voices and setting regional, national and global goals on sand use at the right scale

[Additionally] Zurich, for example, is building buildings with 98% recycled concrete.

The city of Amsterdam has committed to becoming 100% circular by 2050 (and) they aim to halve their natural resource use by 2030. 



A number of scientists are working on ways to replace sand in concrete with other materials, including fly ash, the material left over by coal-fired power stations; shredded plastic; and even crushed oil palm shells and rice husks.

Others are developing concrete that requires less sand, while researchers are also looking at more effective ways to grind down and recycle concrete.

In many Western countries, river sand mining has already been largely phased out. Getting the rest of the world to follow suit will be tough, though. “Preventing or reducing likely damage to rivers will require the construction industry to be weaned off river sourced aggregate,” … [and] This type of societal shift is similar to that required to address climate change, and will necessitate changes in the way that sand and river are perceived, and cities are designed and constructed.

… more [might also be done] to limit the damage caused by sand mining [such as] a monitoring programme … [or] more management [because there currently isn’t much management] …


The Potential Negative Impact Of Sand Mining, Dredging, & Extraction, & How To Address It

Sand can be extracted from river and lake beds, from sea floors, from beaches and coastlines, from quarries, and in various other places where suitable sand is found.

There may be a range of potential negative impacts from these practices.

There may also be ways to address this impact, but also challenges in implementing these solutions.


Potential Impact,,, and all outline some of the potential negative impacts of sand mining, extraction and dredging on the environment, local communities, and other areas of society.

A paraphrased summary of those negatives effects are:

– There can be a range of negative environmental and social effects of dredging riverbeds, the bottoms of lakes, and sea floors for example notes that ‘[Ocean dredging for sand used to create new land, islands and coastlines can damage coral reefs and marine habitats, impact aquatic wild life, impact the livelihoods of local fishermen, and also pollute the local area]’ also outlines the various potential negative impacts of river sand mining, such as damaging habitats, aquatic organisms and vegetation, and more also gives a real life environmental example: ‘The collateral environmental damage [from Singapore’s land reclamation using sand] has been so extreme that neighbouring Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia have all restricted exports of sand to Singapore.’ lists some of the potential negative effects of sand dredging might include illegal sand trades and markets, damaging aquatic life and ecosystems, suffering for local fishermen and communities that rely on water sources for their livelihoods, increased risk of landslides in the area, loss of agricultural land and/or damage to dwellings, and more.


– Because of the demand of sand, and in places where there are bans or restrictions on sand extraction, ‘black markets for sand’ and ‘sand mafias/organised crime gangs’ have developed. notes this has happened in Cambodia, Vietnam, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

Organized crime gangs usually pay off corrupt police and government officials to leave them alone.


– Activists, journalists and other people who have spoken out about the impact of sand extraction, or about illegal sand extraction activity, have experienced threats, violence, and death. notes this has happened in Mexico, India, South Africa, Kenya, Gambia, Indonesia


– notes that ‘[… in parts of Latin America and Africa] children are forced to work … in sand mines’


– Making some natural events or natural disasters worse notes that ‘The recent floods in Houston were actually made worse by sand mining in the San Jacinto River’


– The disappearance of islands ( notes this has happened in Indonesia)


– Farmlands and forests are sometimes damaged notes that ‘… acres of farmlands and forests in rural Wisconsin, which happens to have a lot of [high purity silica grains], are being torn up’


– China and India top the list of areas where sand extraction impacts on rivers, lakes and on coastlines, largely as a result of soaring infrastructure and construction demand (


– gives a good case study of the range of negative effects river dredging has had on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, and other waterways in Cambodia and Laos, as well as in Myanmar along the Ayeyarwady River (which people can rely on for food and rice)

River banks have collapsed, crops fields and houses have been dragged down, and foundations of bridges and structures along rivers have been exposed (increasing the risk these structures collapse)

In general, they also note that sand extraction from rivers can cause millions of dollars of damage to infrastructure from stirred up sand sediment clogging water supply equipment

Sea level rise from a changing climate along with sand extraction may lead to river erosion of these rivers in the long term


Potential Solutions 


[Some of the solutions that may help address any negative impact caused by sand mining and dredging might include better development policies, and also standards and monitoring on where it comes from and how it’s extracted]

[Better enforcement of regulations and laws that protect the environment and workers rights may also help] notes that countries have also restricted or stopped exporting sand to countries like Singapore where the environmental effects of land reclamation are extreme


Potential Challenges When Implementing Solutions

From and

… the issues around sand [may ultimately be a] “complex” problem to resolve

[… countries are always weighing up how environmental protection in the form of bans or restrictions for example, compromise other priorities and interests such as development needs, the local population’s ability to earn a livelihood, the economic and practical value of artificial land and islands that can be created from sand, and other priorities] also notes that ‘Sand is “perceived as cheap, available and infinite and that is partly because the environmental and social costs are pretty much not priced in … It seems like we believe the highest use value for this material right now is to extract it from the natural environment rather than keeping it in the system for the other types of benefits we get from it like say, for example, climate resilience in coastal areas’

[This perception has potentially delayed addressing negative side effects of sand extraction in the past]












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