By Maksim Safaniuk @

Sand production has become uneconomical as the costs of its inputs have risen faster than its saleable value. Kenza Bryan reports in Financial Times:

The rising cost of a grain of sand is inflating the price of materials such as glass and cement even as energy bills flatten out, highlighting its importance for everything from jam jars to global infrastructure projects.

Sand is the world’s most used natural material, mainly in construction and in fracking for oil and gas, as well as some industrial processes such as memory chips owing to its high quartz content. Sand is the primary raw material for glass, accounting for about three quarters of the ingredients.

Vast land reclamation projects such as Singapore’s Tuas mega port, due to be completed in the 2040s, have caused demand for sand to soar in recent years, even as awareness has grown that dredging it from river flood plains, beaches and seabed can lead to coastal erosion and flooding.

Sand miner US Silica Holdings plans to raise the prices of sand products used in glass, building and chemicals by up to a fifth from June to offset higher labour, transport, materials and manufacturing costs, it said last month.

“Higher-than-average price increases” for sand used in urban construction are expected in 2023, according to the US Geological Survey. Although sand and gravel is “plentiful” across the world, environmental regulations, geographic distribution and quality concerns can make production “uneconomical”, it warned in January.

Sales of sand and gravel extracted in the US for industrial purposes rose 78 per cent in value last year, well above the 30 per cent rise in volumes, according to the US survey. This was driven by glassmaking, as well as fracking and cement.

Read more here.