Sand Scarcity?

Nature has an article pointing out that time is running out for sand - demand is increasing beyond available supply and there’s very little monitoring or oversight into what is the world’s most extracted resource. As you’d expect, extraction is vastly outpacing the natural processes which create sand.

Desert sand grains are too smooth to be useful, and most of the angular sand that is suitable for industry comes from rivers (less than 1% of the world’s land). This extraction of sand and gravel has far-reaching impacts on ecology, infrastructure and the livelihoods of the 3 billion people who live along rivers. For example, sand mining on the Pearl River (Zhujiang) in China has lowered water tables, made it harder to extract drinking water and hastened river-bed scour, damaging bridges and embankments.

This is the earliest warning of a potential problem and the article goes on to recommend a number of steps to deal with the situation, starting with improved monitoring to get an accurate assessment of the sand trade, both legal and illegal.