Monday, June 21, 2021



M- Sand makes a Mark



Sand, the backbone of the construction industry, has become a problematic resource to procure in India. Availability and inferior quality have both contributed to the price volatility in this mineral resource. However M- sand, the alternative to sand has quickly made a mark writes, ROHAN AMBIKE.


Sand is an important element in production of two most used construction constituents viz. mortar and cement concrete. Conventionally, natural sand, which is formed by natural enduring of rocks over many years, is favored as fine aggregate. Financial improvement powering the development of housing and infrastructure generates enormous demand for building materials like sand. The illegal mining of sand from river beds is posing a severe threat to the atmosphere such as corrosion of banks and riverbeds stimulating landslides, loss of vegetation on the river banks, depleting underground water tables etc. leading to sand withdrawal being banned or controlled. This has resulted in illegal activities to spread into hillside and farmlands, creating issues for public such as landslide, deep ponds, and hanging cliffs. This sand mined from fields (popularly known as filter sand), in addition to diminishing the productive top soil, damages the excellence of concrete.


Emerging as a viable alternative to river sand is the Mass-produced sand (also called artificial sand, M Sand, Robo Sand etc.,) which is being used globally for a long time especially in developed countries. Use of Mass produced sand as a substitute to river sand is essential as it provides a long term solution to the problem of lack of natural sand to the global construction industry,since it is produced by the crushing of rocks.


The urbanization in India is growing at an unprecedented level due to migration of people from smaller towns and villages to bigger cities in search of jobs and a better life. As more people move to urban areas the demand for housing and infrastructure will go up eventually driving the demand for construction material. In India, the construction boom has increased the demand of sand by many folds in the last 2-3 decades which is putting a lot of pressure on the traditional source of sand supplies i.e our rivers and causing harm to aquifers, fisheries, and protected areas.


Fast Facts
  • The demand for sand is growing at a significant rate across India.
  • The total sand demand in Karnataka is projected to touch 51.2 Million MT by 2022 growing at a CAGR of 6.2% from 2017 to 2022.



The demand for sand is growing at a significant rate across India. The total sand demand in Karnataka is projected to touch 51.2 Million MT by 2022 growing at a CAGR of 6.2% from 2017 to 2022. The sand market will be driven by infrastructure projects and real estate sector. The Indian Real estate sector which comprises of housing, retail, hospitality, and commercial is expected to reach 1 Trillion USD by 2030.The most trusted alternative to sand is Manufactured sand (also known as m-sand). This technology helps alleviate the risks associated with natural sand procurement. By de-risking the construction sector from heavy price volatility, dependence on illegal sand supply, uninterrupted supply, and consistent quality – manufactured sand achieves what no institution related to the natural and river sand regulations has been able to deliver.


Although, manufactured sand as a concept also has many manifestations in the current Indian market. Unwashed quarry dust, crusher dust (both 2 & 3 stage) is being passed by that name. To take care of the excessive ultrafines fines/silt in the so-called Sand, cleaning system has been introduced. Many such introductions like bucket classifiers and screw classifiers have however failed to deliver on the promise. These old age technologies can neither  echnology uses quarry dust, crusher dust or river-bed material as the raw/feed material to produce the highest quality ready-to-use graded sand meeting Zone II quality specification under IS 383 for the construction industry. In CDE technology along with Zone II grade concrete sand some amount of Zone IV sand for plaster can also be produced. The production levels would depend upon feed material characteristics. Recently, CDE has also developed a technology for using the reject slimes for making bricks.


CDE plants are highly flexible and can handle various types of feed material having wide range of silt level. The plants have provision for multilevel of hydrocyclone stages so that feed having high levels of silt like quarry dust or crusher dust can be processed. The low footprint along with provisions for connecting other equipment like attrition scrubbers make them amenable for dealing with highly clay bound material also. The compact nature of the plant makes material flow distances smaller and thus has very low power requirement, about 1kWh/t of feed in most cases. A very important feature of the plants is the water recovery and recirculation system, which could be attached separately or mounted on the same chassis depending on the capacity of the plant. 90-95% of the water is recirculated. CDE has now introduced a new technology called EasySettle, which helps in recovering a major part of the balance 5-10% water going out with the slimes/silt and only about 2-3% of the water would be lost due to spray losses & evaporation and needs to be made up.


CDE plants are thus eco-friendly in every sense of the term. It uses minimum water & power, and are truly zero discharge systems if the slimes are suitable for brick making. The sound level of the plants is well below 80 decibel and is controlled through PLC based arrangement requiring minimum human intervention. Being a wet washing system pollution of atmosphere from dust is minimum.


Most high growth urban centers in India – Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, etc. – face recurring supply side shocks pertaining to sand. This problem has persisted and shall continue to persist given the nature and pace of growth in India. A tested and successful solution for the construction industry to smoothen the bumps in the mineral procurement and to foster high growth is to adapt to manufactured-sand produced by authentic means of sand washing. CDE has partnered with numerous corporations around the globe, and particularly in India, to customized washing solutions for sand. It is time to take the right step forward and find CDE as your preferred sand solution provider.






Scarce availability of river sand


The real estate industry is at a tipping point, balancing demand for housing on one side and managing supply of materials on the other side. With sand consumed on larger scale, the resource continues to be available in scarce. This brings into light quality of sand used in construction. Decreasing availability of quality river sand was the primary and fundamental reason for developers to look at alternates like M-Sand.



Supplier challenge


The Tamil Nadu real estate industry faces a domestic shortfall of sand. The existing depots supply approximately 2,500 lorry loads as opposed to the state’s demand, which stands at 35,000 lorry-loads every day. With legal units in select districts operating maximum capacity, there is still a widening gap of supply and demand. To bridge this gap, developers are increasingly relying on M-Sand as an alternate.



Sustainable alternative


Sensible and sustainable construction is the real need of the hour. Sustainable construction primarily begins with the material procured and used for construction alongside of other factors. A pivotal reason for developers to jump shift in using M-Sand is to prevent dredging of river beds. Other factors of dredging, like ground water depletion, water scarcity also continue to threaten the environment driving developers to adopt M-Sand as an alternate. The Government has regulated laws pertaining to usage of river sand and encourages developers to use alternates like M-Sand as a measure to protect environment. Appropriate usages helps strengthen concrete, less effort for mixing and placement of concrete, and thus increasing productivity of construction at site.



Transportation and logistical issues:


The shortfall faced by Tamil Nadu realty industry also throws light on the availability of sand within close boundaries which continues to grow as a challenge for the industry. Currently, developers are sourcing natural sand from different parts of the country thereby heavily relying on third parties for transportation and logistics. The sky rocketing prices involved in transporting the materials and increasing dependency on third parties is emerging as a bottle neck for the industry. However, M-Sand on the other hand is readily available thanks to the many institutes setting up production locally in the state.



Tamil Nadu brings in policy


The state of Tamil Nadu is working on bringing an M-sand policy that aims to promote the use of M-sand as an alternative building material and eliminate the pervasion of sub-standard products in the market through regulation of trade, government officials have said.


The Public Works Department has submitted a draft M-sand policy for scrutiny by the government. The PWD’s high-level assessment committee has certified 184 manufacturers across the State for the quality of the product. Once the M-sand policy is implemented, it will be mandatory for manufacturers to get approval for the quality of the material. PWD officials said that with limited availability of river and imported sand, the use of M-sand in construction activity had risen by 60-65%. Around 22,000 loads of M-sand were being supplied across the State, of which nearly 5,000 loads were sent to Chennai and neighbouring areas. There were around 320 manufacturing units in the State that had been approved by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board for operation.

 Fifty more had applied for quality approval. The remaining units that were yet to apply for PWD certification needed to be brought under the net.