Study: Sand shortage means construction costs could spiral in Germany

Study, Sand shortage means construction costs could spiral in Germany

Looming bottlenecks in sand supplies could cause a rise in construction costs in Germany, according to information from the government agency tasked with natural resource analysis.

“Germany may be rich in sand, but there is a risk of major supply bottlenecks on the domestic market, particularly in important construction materials,” the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources told dpa on Friday.

A new study points to several reasons. Most of the sand, gravel and natural stone resources are to be found in conservation areas or have already been overexploited.

Rising land prices mean that farmers are less likely to sell arable land for the mining of gravel, licensing procedures are suffering delays, and industry lacks processing capacity.

Supply shortages are as a result expected this year in the Mannheim-Karlsruhe region, in Berlin and in the Ruhr region.

Prices vary sharply. In Berlin, a ton of building sand costs around 6 euros (7.50 dollars), while in Munich that rises to 15 euros. By contrast there could be gravel shortages in Berlin and Hamburg.

Some 100 million tons of sand are mined annually from 2,000 pits across Germany, with the quantity rising by 5 per cent over the past five years, driven by a construction boom.

The low value of the material means that it is generally mined and consumed regionally and not transported long distances.

Sand is defined as material with particles measuring between 0.063 and 2 millimetres. Material smaller than that is called silt or clay, and larger than that is called gravel or crushed rock.

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