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Indonesia bans sand exports JAKARTA - Indonesia has announced a ban on land sand exports. Land sand is used in the construction industry to produce cement. Singapore says it is disappointed but it believes the ban is unlikely to have a significant impact on the construction industry. Indonesia says the ban on the export of sand is due to environmental reasons and to protect Indonesia's borders.

Singapore had earlier said it was prepared to work with Indonesia to address these concerns. It has conducted regular checks to ensure the sand imported is supplied by licensed firms, which have environmental control measures in place, according to Indonesia's laws. The Indonesian firms exporting sand have to pay a reclamation tax to the government and this tax is reflected in the price of sand.

Much of the sand mining also takes place on islands further inland, hence it is unlikely to affect outlying islands and Indonesia's borders. Singapore has recognised Indonesia's border islands neighbouring Singapore, and a maritime boundary between the 2 countries has been fixed in a treaty signed in 1973. Singapore says it is disappointed with Indonesia's decision but the government believes the ban is unlikely to slow the construction sector. Singapore currently spends $120m to $160m a year importing sand from Indonesia. Singapore has been diversifying its supply source and is in talks with some regional countries to import sand.

"At the same time, we also have quite a sizeable sand stockpile, and we are prepared to release the stockpile to meet the immediate needs of the industry. It is very important for us to move away from such high dependency on sand import in construction work. We've been discussing with the industry trying to persuade them to move towards a more sustainable form of construction like the use of steel structure, the use of dry construction," said Dr John Keung, Chief Executive Officer, Building and Construction Authority.

Such sustainable construction is likely to cost developers 8 percent more but it also produces better quality construction, with cleaner sites. Malaysia banned the export of sand in 1997, and since then, all of Singapore's sand supply has been coming from Indonesia. Currently, 90 percent of construction in Singapore uses concrete as their main material. 0.8 tons of sand is needed for every cubic metre of concrete made. Therefore, 6 to 8 million tons of sand costing $20 per ton is required every year.

If Singapore switches to sustainable construction, the Building and Construction Authority believes sand consumption can be cut by 60 to 70 percent. Countries like UK employ sustainable construction in about 70 percent of its building projects. In the US, this figure is 50 percent. Examples of projects built using the sustainable construction method in Singapore include the National Library, Capitol Tower, Ang Mo Kio Hub Mall, the New Supreme Court and Fusionpolis.

The Building and Construction Authority says projects currently at a design stage may need to think of using this method in construction. The ban on exporting sand takes effect from the 23rd of February and the Indonesian government has given exporters up to 5 February 2007 to honour its existing sand export contracts.


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Posted in Economy @ 25 January 2007 08:43 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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