Sand mining is the world’s largest mining endeavor, responsible for 85 percent of all mineral extraction. It is also the least regulated, and quite possibly the most corrupt and environmentally destructive.
China is estimated to consume more sand in three years than the U.S. consumed in the entire 20th century. Singapore has created an extra 50 square miles of land thanks to 500 million tons of imported sand. A simple rule is that sand mining in rivers should not exceed the rate of resupply of sand from upstream. Sand mining will clearly continue, including in rivers. So better regulation is vital.