Vietnam is running out of sand amid construction boom

Global Construction Review 27 Oct 17;

Vietnam is looking at ways to make artificial sand after experts warned it could run out of the naturally occurring material within five years.

Scientists from the Institute of Transport Science and Technology issued the warning during a meeting with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport on Friday, 20 October. However, it added that artificial sand could be made for up to 15% more cheaply than mining the natural variety, and that it makes better quality concrete.

According to the institute, Vietnam needs about 100 million cubic metres of sand every year to keep pace with the country’s steady 6% annual GDP growth, which is leading to a continuous boom in construction spending.

The shortage has been partly created by a government crackdown on illegal sand-dredging. The effectiveness of this campaign led to a 200% rise in prices, and this in turn has put pressure on infrastructure projects with large concrete requirements.

Nguyen Thanh Nam, director of the Ha Noi Highway expansion in Ho Chi Minh City, said his project was under pressure owing to the price rise. “We are looking for more detailed information on industrial sand. If the sand meets the standard, we will use it to pave the sidewalks of the Ha Noi Highways,” he said.

Sand wars

Sand along the country's local rivers have long been exported, but this has been halted by the government.

Some sand dredging projects have been a cause of considerable strife. One dispute in March of this year over the dredging on the Cau River in Bac Ninh province, near Hanoi, led to threats of violence by “organised criminals” against local government chiefs.

Meanwhile, in Cambodia nearly 50 civil society organisations lobbied the government in October last year to ban or restrict exports of sand to Singapore after it UN data revealed that nearly $750m of the building material has been exported to the island state, compared with the $5m accounted for in public records.

The petition to Suy Sem, the minister of mines, read: “We note the decisions of the governments of Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia to ban or restrict sand exports to Singapore due to environmental concerns, and we urge your excellency to consider instituting a similar ban or restriction in Cambodia, in the interests of Cambodia’s long-term sustainable development.”


Vietnam may 'run out of sand in 5 years'
Straits Times 26 Oct 17;

HANOI • The Vietnamese authorities are looking at producing artificial sand amid warnings by experts that the country could run out of sand within five years due to over-exploitation of the natural product, local media reported.

Scientists from the country's Institute of Transport Science and Technology warned last week that the domestic supply of natural sand was nearing an end and could be depleted in five years due to excessive exploitation.

Vietnam needs about 100 million cubic metres of sand every year for construction projects across the fast-growing country.

According to the scientists, the cost of man-made sand is also an advantage as ground rock can be 10 per cent to 15 per cent cheaper than natural sand.

Prices of natural sand have skyrocketed in the past six months after a massive crackdown on the illegal sand-dredging industry.

That created a shortfall in the supply of sand, leading to a 200 per cent rise in prices that have shown no signs of easing.

Several infrastructure projects have struggled to find new supplies as many are on the verge of exceeding their planned investments.

The institute had met last week with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport to discuss new construction materials for its infrastructure projects.

Mr Nguyen Thanh Nam, director of the Ha Noi Highway project in Ho Chi Minh City, said works to upgrade and expand the highway were in trouble due to the price hike.

"We are looking for more detailed information (on industrial sand). If the sand meets the standard, we will use it to pave the sidewalks of the Ha Noi Highway," he said.

Sand along the country's local rivers have long been exported to many foreign countries.

The government has ordered the Ministry of Construction to cease sand exports.

Investors at the meeting asked the institute to announce the official price of the industrial sand and other criteria regarding the quality to be used as a legal basis to design and build transport projects.

VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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