Why is sand in high demand?


Sand is in high demand primarily due to its extensive use in construction, particularly for making concrete, which is fundamental for building modern infrastructure like cities, roads, and buildings. Sand is also crucial for other applications such as glass-making and the production of silicon chips for electronic devices.

Here are some of the reasons for the high demand for sand:

  1. Urbanization and Construction: As more people move into cities, especially in developing nations, there's a huge demand for building material, most notably concrete, which requires sand. Modern urban infrastructure, which includes buildings, roads, and other facilities, is heavily reliant on concrete 1.

  2. Manufacturing and Technology: Sand is a key component in manufacturing glass and silicon, which are essential for making windows, microchips, and other digital devices. The production processes for these materials often require highly pure quartz sand, which is less abundant and more expensive 2.

  3. Environmental and Regulatory Challenges: The extraction of sand, especially from rivers and coastal areas, can cause significant environmental damage, leading to more regulations and restrictions on sand mining. This has tightened the supply and pushed up demand further 3.

    Running out of sand

    Vince explains how sand is used in almost everything we use and how we are running out of it. The demand for sand has grown exponentially in the last couple of decades, causing massive environmental damage. Sand scarcity has become a global problem, and in some places, the demand is so intense that organized crime has gotten into it.

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    97: Vince Beiser | Why Sand Is More Important Than You Think It Is
  4. Global Development: Countries like China have used more cement (containing sand) in recent years than the U.S. did in the entire 20th century, highlighting the massive scale of global development and infrastructure projects 4.

Due to these factors, the demand for sand has grown exponentially, leading to a shortage in many areas and even the involvement of organized crime in the sand trade 5.