The Economic Importance Of Sand

The Economic Importance Of Sand

By: Quan Nguyen, Journalist


In today’s modern economy, and has become increasingly important. After the advent of concrete as a major building material in cities, the need for suitable sand has risen dramatically. Although it may seem that there is a large amount of sand in the world, it is non-renewable on human timescales. This results in massive amounts of sand being mined from rivers and oceans annually, which the effects of have now become evident. 

Characteristics of construction sand

Sand is based on silicon, and its scientific name is silica or silicon dioxide. Silica makes up 59% of the Earth’s crust by mass but is found in rocks. Sand, however, takes decades or centuries to grind down from large `rocks to gravel, to pebbles, and finally grains of sand. Only certain types of sand are very suitable for concrete, however. River sand is the most preferable, as its grains are not too rounded nor too sharp. 

The sand industry’s contribution to the global economy

As of the year 2020, the global silica sand market reached a value of US$ 14.1 billion, meaning it contributes to 0.02% of the global GDP. Despite its low value, however, sand is still incredibly important. The sand industry contributes to the producers of concrete, cement, and grout, which in turn is a major factor in the construction industry. The majority of industrial and commercial buildings nowadays are mainly made out of concrete, with windows made of glass. Glass also is made from sand, which is another major factor.


Sand is a major element of society that is often overlooked, with its true value mainly seen by economists and construction companies. Its importance will likely never wane, especially not now after more than 100 years of using sand in construction and decorative products.