The developing world is undergoing a building boom. From Vietnam to Africa and India, businesses and governments are building roads, airports, skyscrapers and other landmarks of busy economies. Building these things requires concrete. Making concrete requires sand.
Only there’s suddenly not enough to go around.
In global markets, sand’s price has risen 40 percent to 70 percent. Indonesia and some other countries are restricting exports of it. India and Cambodia have been reduced to dredging low-quality sand from riverbeds. Because of the shortage, there’s a thriving international black market in sand.
The sand rush, particularly in poor countries, has led to environmental devastation in some areas as ecosystems are torn apart to get sand underneath.
TRENDPOST: The lack of this elemental resource will restrict large-scale infrastructure projects, such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the US’ long-awaited revival of interest in shoring up its crumbing roads, bridges, sewage systems and other infrastructure necessities. It also challenges governments to protect ecosystems from this new threat as environmental groups mobilize around it.