Although the earth is actually covered with ample sand, there is still a shortage of sand suitable for industry. Not all sand is the same and has different properties depending on its composition. Now there is a risk of serious delivery disruptions, which will sooner or later lead to a sharp increase in prices. Nature is also suffering rapidly due to this.
Most of the sand is extracted from river beds for industrial purposes. But increasing overexploitation there is creating problems. Bridges are at risk of flooding, entire areas are at risk of being flooded during floods and the entire ecosystem is also being affected. However, for example, the construction industry requires special sand to produce concrete or glass that cannot be transported from beaches or deserts. And things are starting to get tight.
Depending on its origin, sand has a different composition and size of sand particles. Because of this, most of the world’s sand is not suitable for industrial purposes. To make glass or computer chips, you need the purest silicon dioxide in the form of sand. Even the concrete used to produce it (and the construction industry needs a lot of it) must have a certain consistency to be usable. But you cannot dig several kilometers deep into the earth’s crust to extract more sand from there.
What’s more: Sand from river beds and similar places is ideal for making concrete, not only because of its composition, but also because of the size of the sand particles. And the global construction industry actually requires huge quantities of sand for this. But this is leading to more and more exploitation of nature, especially because now a lot of money can be made from it. More sand is removed from river beds than the rivers can supply, which also affects the supply of groundwater and inland lakes.
Now the question arises that for how long will everything continue to go well. Although China is now the largest consumer of sand (60 percent of global sand consumption occurs there), we are talking about a global problem here. Without a reduction in consumption for industrial purposes, the first major supply constraints will arise within a few years. Then it gets really expensive.