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Sand and the Sandbank: is sand extraction a sustainable business?

23 January 2019

Are we running out of sand? This one day meeting will explore the economics of sand, its role in building climate resilience, and new approaches to managing sand resources as global demand continues to rise.

Sand has been an essential raw material since the beginning of urbanisation – a mineral that has formed the foundations of civilization through the construction of our buildings and infrastructure. It is also vital to processes like glass and steel manufacture, water purification and fracking. Worldwide, we consume around 50 billion tons of sand each year – most of it from beaches, rivers, lakes and oceans.

Recent headlines have suggested that, as global demand rises, we are running out of sand – even that sand has become a conflict mineral. This one day meeting will explore sand supply and markets, resource management policies and regulation and the environmental, social and economic risks associated with extraction, both on a local and an international scale. The aim will be to define research priorities and create a briefing note for policymakers.

Talks include:

  • Aurelie Delannoy, Mineral Products Association: ‘The Economics of sand - valuing sand and its uses’
  • Dr Matthew Free, Arup: ‘Cities, infrastructures and new places over the next 50 years – what will our world look like?’
  • Professor Iain Stewart, Sustainable Earth Institute: ‘Resources and the UN Sustainable Development Goals’

Full details can be found at


  1. The Geological Society of London, founded 1807, is a learned and professional body, of over 12,000 Earth scientists with a remit to investigate, interpret, discuss, inform and advise on the nature and processes of the Earth, their practical importance to humanity, and, in the interests of the public, to promote professional excellence. The Society offers advice to Parliament and Government, at individual and corporate levels. Registered Charity No. 210161. 

  2. Sand and the Sandbank is organised by the Geological Society in partnership with The Royal Geographical Society.

  3. To register for a press pass, please contact