Sand: A Dwindling Resource?


Sand is the raw material of the future. It can be found in microchips, in glass, concrete and even food.

As sand becomes scarce, the potential for conflict increases. The result: sky-high prices and illegal quarrying - from Germany to the Gulf States. Everyone talks about oil and water, but a battle has broken out for another resource: sand. The small grains must be the most underestimated resource of our time. We all need it: sand is used in the casting molds for automobile manufacturing, in microchips, in food, glass and especially in concrete. As sand becomes scarce, the potential for conflict increases.

Sand will be a key resource in the future. This film visits locations from Germany to the Gulf States to look at how dependent our modern society is on sand, and what conflicts can emerge as a result. One of Germany’s biggest reserves of quartz sand is west of Cologne at Frechen. It produces 3,000 tons of sand every day. But to get at the deposits, the ancient forest above is being cleared. Environmentalists say this is a disaster for nature and want the woodland to be put under protection. Internationally, it’s mainly larger-grained sands that are leading to conflict. Desert states such as Dubai are reaching the limits of their own resources with their prestige projects and mega-structures, which means they now have to import sand. Ironically, the desert sand is unsuitable for construction because its grains are too smooth and round. The insatiable demand for sand has led to sky-high prices and illegal quarrying and a real mafia has grown up. The consequences are serious: India’s coasts are being quarried and entire islands are disappearing off mainland Indonesia. If the international construction boom continues, are we heading towards a global sand crisis?

Published on Nov 12, 2017


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