Sand is known to be the building block of the modern world. The fact is, the demand for construction sand is rising faster than the available supply. But did you know that desert sand is practically useless?
Most assume that countries in the middle east would not have a problem sourcing sand because of the vast deserts in their region. But the truth is, desert sand cannot be used in construction. Saudi Arabia has to import their construction sand from Australia and Canada.
Why is Sand Important?
Sand is the most used material on earth. It is utilized in various industries, and because of the rising demand for quality sand, it has also become the most exploited resource.
The nature of the crisis is we don’t understand this material well enough.We don’t understand the impacts enough of where we’re taking it from. Sometimes we don’t even know where it’s coming from, how much is coming out of rivers. We don’t know. We just don’t know.Louise Gallagher, Global Sand Observatory, Geneva
Unlike other materials and resources, policymakers don’t know how much sand is used every year. The UN Environment Program (UNEP) based its report on how much cement was used. They were able to come up with a ballpark figure of 50 billion tons. According to scientists, that is more than what can be responsibly used each year.
Even though we can create more sand by crushing rocks, some countries have been facing shortages that they have started destroying natural habitats that directly affect the ecology of a particular area. (Source: Deutsche Welle)
Why is Sand Mining Dangerous?
The process of extracting sand in massive quantities costs a lot of money and is destructive to both humans and the planet. Sand mining destroys natural habitats, erodes landforms, and pollutes bodies of water.
The process of sand extraction also contributes to the rising sea level. When miners dig through layers of sand, rivers become unstable – the pollution causes an imbalance in the quality of water, which can kill fish and be harmful to consume.
It has so many other impacts that are not taken into consideration. It’s definitely not reflected in the cost of sand.Kiran Pereira
Some of the other issues on sand mining may not be seen immediately, and this is precisely why it is dangerous. According to a study in 2019, sand mining destabilized the riverbanks. This has pushed the Gharial crocodiles of the Ganges river to the brink of extinction. As of today, there are only 250 adults in the wild.
In addition, several villages have been displaced due to sand mining. Unfortunately, the damage caused by this has been blatantly ignored because people are unaware of the demand for the commodity.
It is hiddne in plain sight. Ask people to name the most important commodity on the planet and sand is probably not the one that gets mentioned.Chris Hackney
(Source: Deutsche Welle)
Why Can’t Desert Sand Be Utilized?
You’d be surprised to know that the sand in the deserts of the Middle East is completely useless in construction. Countries like Saudi Arabia import sand from Australia and Canada.
Desert sand can not be used because it has less grip than grains found on riverbeds and beaches. To make good concrete, friction is needed. Basically, desert sand grains are the wrong shape. They are too smooth and fine to act as a binding agent. (Source: Deutsche Welle)