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  Straits Times 28 Jan 07
Riau exporters hit out at sand ban

The Electric New Paper 28 Jan 07
Where's my CONCRETE?
Concrete price soars after sand ban. Are suppliers taking advantage?
By Teh Jen Lee

Today Online 27 Jan 07
Don't depend on one source for resources
Letter from Harry chia

Today Online 26 Jan 07
Headache over shifting sands
Contractors feel the pinch now, buyers may hurt later
Lee U-Wen

Today Online 26 Jan 07
Singapore deserves far better treatment from Thailand and Indonesia

Letter from Errol Goodenough Letter from Lim Boon Hee

Business Times Singapore 25 Jan 07
Indonesia bans sand export
S'pore mulls new supply sources, stockpile release
By Uma Shankari and Vincent Wee

Today Online 25 Jan 07
Indonesia acts, S'pore regrets
Jakarta bans sand exports to S'pore; Republic will turn to new sources, steel-based construction
Sharon Vasoo

PlanetArk 25 Jan 07
Indonesia Bans Sand Exports to Singapore -- Ministry

Tempo 23 Jan 07
Government Stops Exporting Sand
RR Ariyani

Channel NewsAsia 24 Jan 07
Indonesia bans sand exports
By Pearl Forss

SINGAPORE: 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. - CNA /dt

Business Times Singapore 25 Jan 07
Indonesia bans sand export
S'pore mulls new supply sources, stockpile release
By Uma Shankari and Vincent Wee

(SINGAPORE) Indonesia has imposed a blanket ban on the export of sand in a move that could dampen the recovery of Singapore's construction industry.

While expressing disappointment at Jakarta's decision, Singapore said that alternative supply sources, including the release of a sand stockpile, will help builders tide over the shortage of the crucial component for concrete.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said in a joint statement yesterday: 'Singapore is disappointed with Indonesia's decision. Singapore ministers had earlier raised this issue with their Indonesian counterparts, and expressed Singapore's preparedness to work with Indonesia to address their concerns. We regret that Indonesia did not take up our offer to address those concerns.'

The move has come as a surprise to some. This is because Singapore, which is almost entirely dependent on land sand imports from Indonesia, is one of the biggest foreign investors in Indonesia.

As part of the warm bilateral ties, the Singapore government has led efforts to help set up Special Economic Zones in the Indonesian Riau region to help Indonesia woo other foreign investors.

But the goodwill was not enough to stop the sand ban.

According to Indonesian media reports, the ban was imposed because of environmental reasons and to protect Indonesia's borders although the inland mining of land sand, which is distinct from sea sand that is used in reclamation works, does not have any effect on territorial borders.

The ban took effect from Jan 23, but the Indonesian government has given exporters up to Feb 5 to honour existing sand export contracts.

The ban is expected to drive up costs in Singapore's construction sector, which is looking forward to strong growth after years of poor performance. Industry players reckon that the ban is expected to result in a spike in the price of sand to above $50 per tonne from the current level of $20 per tonne. They estimate that overall construction costs could rise by 3-10 per cent.

But alternative sources of land sand will help ease the expected short-term spike. MND and BCA said they were looking at new supply sources for concreting sand. HDB, for one, has started procuring concreting sand from other sources in the region, outside Indonesia.

'The industry can also tap on these new sources to meet their concreting sand requirements,' said the government bodies. BCA will continue to work with the industry to open up new supply sources.

The government will also release sand from its stockpile, if necessary, to meet any temporary shortage.

Singapore is the largest buyer of Indonesia's concreting sand, which is widely used in the construction of buildings as well as structures.

Indonesian media reports say exports of Indonesian sand were worth some US$9.5 million in 2005, with Singapore and China being the main importers, importing US$6 million and US$2.4 million respectively. Singapore meets more than 90 per cent of its land sand demand from Indonesian imports of sand.

And in the longer term, BCA is working closely with the industry to reduce the need for concreting sand in construction.

Over the past few years, the government agency has been exploring suitable substitutes for sand in concrete and promoting the use of alternative construction materials and methods.

Figures from BCA released on Tuesday show that overall construction costs was estimated to have increased by 6-8 per cent in 2006. BCA also said that a recent straw poll it conducted showed a majority of industry players expect a likely increase of about 8-10 per cent in overall construction costs in 2007 - before the ban was announced.

The ban yesterday worried some contractors. 'Sand and soil form the basics in the food chain of construction materials,' said Jackson Yap, chief executive officer of major construction player United Engineers. 'Their possible shortage in supply and price hike will likely set off a massive domino effect on other raw material prices and availability, and even building design which is governed by the proportion of steel and concrete.'

Builders were also concerned about the timing of the ban, which comes at a time when construction demand is strong. 'With the present property boom the impact of the ban will be felt even more sharply because costs of construction materials have already gone up as it is,' said Soilbuild Group's deputy general manager Steven Tan.

But industry players are optimistic that the government stockpile will help the industry cope with the transition. 'We believe the government's stockpile will help us tide over the effects of the ban until we can secure alternative sources of supply,' said Lian Beng managing director Ong Pang Aik.

Today Online 25 Jan 07
Indonesia acts, S'pore regrets
Jakarta bans sand exports to S'pore; Republic will turn to new sources, steel-based construction
Sharon Vasoo Deputy Foreign Editor sharon@mediacorp.com.sg

For some time now, Singapore has been basking in its friendship with Indonesia, trying to nudge foreign investors to go to its larger neighbour. It has been a staunch supporter of Indonesia's Riau Island's Special Economic Zones.

On Monday night, the warm ties had to negotiate a sand trap. Indonesia's Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu unilaterally announced that her country would ban the export of sand, soil and topsoil--a move that will affect mainly Singapore which imports between six and eight million tonnes of land sand annually.

It comes at a time when Singapore's construction sector has just roused itself from a long, lethargic spell and is set to take off. Singapore imports almost all the sand used in its buildings from Indonesia but is confident that it will find other sources to bridge the shortfall.

It has also been persuading its developers to switch from sand-based construction to using more steel--which is more easily available and makes for quicker, cleaner projects.

Indonesia's decision may speed up this switch. "It could also be an opportunity--just as our water disputes with Malaysia led to our engagement with Newater," said an observer.

Nevertheless, Indonesia's sudden and swift decision has not gone down well. "Singapore is disappointed," said a statement from the National Development Ministry and the Building and Construction Authority.

Ms Mari said that Indonesia took this decision because its government wanted to protect its environment and maintain the nation's maritime borders. "After observations in the field, there is actually quite heavy environmental damage and the banning of sand exports is a response to this," she said.

It is understood that Singapore had offered to work with Indonesia to address its environmental concerns. "We regret that Indonesia did not take up our offer ..." said the statement.

Still, Jakarta decided to go ahead with the ban under which exporters have been given up to Feb 5 to honour existing sand contracts.

Observers say that the Indonesia's move was mainly to placate domestic lobby groups and provincial ministers who feel that they have not benefited from the trade that fetches Indonesia more than $120 million a year from Singapore alone. It has been the Republic's main supplier of sand since Malaysia banned exports in 1997.

On paper, the ban could affect between $60 billion and $90 billion worth of projects here that are already in the pipeline.

But there is not likely to be any disruption at all. "We have quite a sizeable sand stockpile, and we are prepared to release the stockpile to meet the immediate needs of the industry," Dr John Keung, BCA's chief executive officer told Channel NewsAsia.

Meanwhile, the alternatives are already clicking into place. The Housing and Development Board has already started procuring sand from sources outside Indonesia to produce concrete.

At least one such ship, it is understood, is already on its way to Singapore. This arrangement will ensure that Singapore builders get a steady supply of sand to make concrete for their buildings.

But since the sand is being shipped from areas much further away than Indonesia, industry experts said that it was likely to be more expensive than Indonesian supplies. This sand could add between 1 and 2 per cent to project costs, experts said.

So, it probably made more sense to switch to steel-based construction which would be marginally more expensive--it could add 3 per cent to project costs--but would see buildings come up faster, with less dependence on foreign labour.

Backing this, Mr Keung said: "It is very important for us to move away from such high dependency on sand export in construction work. We've been trying to persuade the industry to move towards a more sustainable form of construction, like the use of steel structure."

Industry experts that it was possible for Singapore to cut its sand consumption by up to 70 per cent. This would mean that the Republic would only have to import between one and two million tonnes of sand a year.

Of late, Britain has slashed its sand usage by up 70 per cent and Japan by 50 per cent. The trend has caught on in Singapore too, with the National Library, Capitol Tower and the Ang Mo Kio Hub Mall using steel more than concrete in their structures. Even the Marina Integrated Resort design has a steely edge to it.

The construction industry here is expected to shrug off the impact of this ban sooner rather than later, observers said.

For now, they are more intrigued by the mixed signals that Indonesia is sending as far as its relationship with Singapore goes. "Sometimes governments are forced to make tough decisions, but these decisions should not be seen as an expression of negativity against another country," said Mr Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, a former Indonesian ambassador and now a senior fellow at Jakarta's Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Not many builders in Singapore will agree with that.

PlanetArk 25 Jan 07
Indonesia Bans Sand Exports to Singapore -- Ministry

SINGAPORE - Indonesia has banned all further sand exports, citing environmental concerns and the need to protect its borders, the Singapore government said in a statement on Wednesday.

Land-scarce Singapore, with a total area of just 700 square km, is one of the biggest importers of Indonesian sand, once used for land reclamation and now in strong demand in a construction industry currently recovering after years in the doldrums.

Indonesia's sand trade with Singapore, worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year, has been criticised by environmentalists who said sand mining had led to erosion and even the disappearance of some Indonesian islands.

This, in turn, has raised concerns that sand mining could alter Indonesia's sea borders.

"Singapore is disappointed with Indonesia's decision," the Ministry of National Development said in a statement.

The government building agency did not expect the ban to have a significant impact on the city-state's construction sector as it could find other suppliers of the material, the ministry said. The ban took effect on Tuesday, but exporters have been given until Feb. 5 to honour existing contracts, it added.

The latest ban applies to the export of land sand, which is used to produce concrete for buidling construction, a ministry spokeswoman said.

Jakarta banned the export of sea sand -- used for land reclamation works -- to Singapore in 2003, dealing a blow to the city-state's reclamation plans.

Tempo 23 Jan 07
Government Stops Exporting Sand
RR Ariyani

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: The Department of Trade has banned all sand, soil, and top soil ( including humus) exports.

This is being carried out in order to protect the environment and to safeguard the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia.

“After observations in the field, there is actually quite heavy environmental damage and the banning of sand exports is a response to this,” said Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu yesterday ( 01/23).

The ban is contained in Trade Ministerial Regulation Number 01/M-DAG/PER/1/2007 on Ban of Sand, Soil and Top Soil Exports and has been in force since 23 January 2007.

In this regulation, there are four tariff categories that are banned from being exported: natural sand, silicon sand, quartz sand and clay. In addition to environmental damage, Mari said that the export ban was also to handle issues relating to state borders.

“Because the point is that, in addition to environmental damage and the changing inter-island configuration in the Riau Islands, it would disturb the security of inter-island borders,” she said.

Mari confirmed that the export ban will be in force permanently.

So far, the main destination for exporting sand has been Singapore. It was recorded that in 2005, total export values reached US$9.3 million: US$6 million to Singapore, and US$2.4 million to China, with the remainder going to Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Australia.

Today Online 26 Jan 07
Singapore deserves far better treatment from Thailand and Indonesia

Letter from Errol Goodenough

I REFER to your report, "Indonesia acts, S'pore regrets" (Jan 25).

Singapore appears to have bent backwards at all levels in reaching out to help our southern neighbour. We have come to their aid in good times and bad, not in the hope of securing favours but often out of genuine concern.

The Indonesian Government's recent policy of refusing to sell sand to Singapore comes so soon after the Singapore Government has publicly said that it would help champion the development of Riau industry. Singapore's commitment to Batam, Bintan and Karimun has been evident for decades and preceded the bickering on the sale of sand.

Somehow Indonesia's policies, coupled with its tardy response on the haze issue, seem to flesh out the saying that "no good deed ever goes unpunished". Far better we build upon our relations with our neighbour to the north, as bilateral relations in this instance now appear to be more comfortable than in the past.

Letter from Lim Boon Hee

IF SINGAPORE'S economy booms, Asean also benefits. However of late, this win-win attitude appears to have taken a backseat within Asean.

Indonesia has unilaterally cut off supply of sand to Singapore knowing full well that the construction of our integrated resorts and condominiums will require sand. I wonder if it has anything to do with the haze for which Singapore sought help from the United Nations. Indonesia felt humiliated by it.

Earlier, Malaysia too had banned sand exports to Singapore, worried that Singapore's land area will increase through more sea reclamation.

Meanwhile, the Thai head of Council for National Security (CNS) has made surprising statements on Temasek's stake in the former Thaksin-family-controlled Shin Corp. Without any proof, we have been accused of spying through Advanced Info Service, the mobile phone company owned by Shin Corp.

Although the Thai PM has agreed not to mix politics with business in economic dealings, the rejections of iTV's five proposals and insistence on the 100 billion baht ($4.5 billion) fine is evidence of a tit-for-tat response to Thaksin's antics in Singapore.

Indonesian unions are also targeting the "so-called" business tactics of telcos in which Temasek have stakes in.

Singapore will increasingly come under siege from testy neighbours and suspicions about the motives of the Government's investments through Temasek. There are looming dark clouds around us and we have to stand firm.

Today Online 26 Jan 07
Headache over shifting sands
Contractors feel the pinch now, buyers may hurt later
Lee U-Wen u-wen@mediacorp.com.sg

THEY were warned. As early as September last year, contractors like Mr David Toh, project director of Ley Choon Constructions, were told that the price of sand was on its way up.

Like good businessmen, they factored a moderate rise in the cost of sand into their tender quotations. What they did not expect was Indonesia's blanket ban on sand exports.

Now, instead of this building material costing, say, 20 per cent more, they are looking at its price doubling. And they alone must pick up the tab.

"There is no way to adjust to the rising costs," said Mr Toh as the impact of Indonesia's "sand storm" started sinking in. "We have no choice but to finish the projects and pay the higher price for sand."

They cannot pass on this mounting cost to anyone, because the price is already determined during the tender process. But when it is time for the next round of contracts to be signed, Mr Toh and others like him will make sure that they charge developers for sand prices that could hover closer to $50 a tonne, compared to the current $20 a tonne.

And that is when the buyers, too, may feel the squeeze. "Consumers must be prepared to fork out more, because developers are not going to absorb the increases," said real estate firm Propnex's chief executive Mohamed Ismail.

And so a whole new dynamic will be set into motion, affecting not just the players in the construction sector, but even the way structures are built and property is priced.

Singapore imports between six and eight million tonnes of sand each year, almost all of it from Indonesia. The Indonesian ban will affect existing projects, which are worth up to $90 billion, but is not expected to disrupt them.

That is because the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), which manages the Republic's stockpile of sand, is willing to dip into it to make up for any temporary shortfall. But it was likely to price this sand higher than the current market rate of $20 per tonne.

Mr Tan Tian Chong, director of BCA's technology development division, told Today: "The stockpile is meant more for emergencies, so the price will go up. The industry expects it to go up."

The irony is that the impact will be greater precisely because the construction industry has turned around and the demand for sand is greater than ever before. Last year, $16 billion worth of contracts were signed--a 41-per-cent increase from 2005.

Spotting this trend, the Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL) wrote to its members last September, pointing out that the price of sand could rise further. It advised them to factor this in the costing of their works.

The SCAL said there was "an increased demand for sand in Singapore" due to the Housing and Development Board's (HDB) stockpiling and the upcoming integrated resorts. This year, demand will grow further with $19 billion worth of contracts expected to be signed.

Now suddenly, the main supply source has been cut off and the scramble for alternatives has begun. The HDB is already tapping into other sources of sand in the region. "But there's always a chance that other countries could also ban the export of sand, so the industry has to switch to steel," said BCA's Mr Tan.

For those in the construction sector, the timing could not have been worse. Though it grew by only 1.1 per cent last year, it had started to gather steam in the second half of the year--growing by 2.6 per cent in the third quarter and 2.4 per cent in the fourth. Now, it's back to the drawing board.

But while you may have to pay a little more for your next property and Mr Toh will not make much of a profit on the four projects he has in hand, each worth millions, the impact on the economy itself will be limited.

Said Citigroup economist Chua Hak Bin: "I estimate that the construction sector will contribute about 3.5 per cent to the country's gross domestic product this year. The fact that the Government has released the stockpile of sand will provide some breathing space this year, so I feel the impact will not be that significant."

Today Online 27 Jan 07
Don't depend on one source for resources
Letter from Harry chia

I refer to the report, "Head-ache over shifting sands" (Jan 26).

Not too long ago, Singapore was grappling with the price of oil going north with the possibility even of hitting US$100. Now that the oil price is sort of stable at around US$53, we are hit by Indonesia's ban on sand exports.

Just when we are experiencing a property upturn, this has to happen. Now developers of new properties will have to factor in the increased cost and pass it on to buyers by raising prices. Singaporeans will have to pay more for their homes.

Had the ban been anticipated, we could have been prepared and even accepted the fact that new homes might cost more; but the ban was sudden and the contractors caught unawares. Even the stock market has been affected.

Singapore must not be dependent on just one source for any of our raw materials that can halt or stall any of our economic activity. Just as with water, Singapore must find some way of making sure that there will be alternative source of anything we find essential to feed our economic growth.

Our businesses must never find themselves paralysed by unreasonable actions of our neighbouring countries.

The Electric New Paper 28 Jan 07
Where's my CONCRETE?
Concrete price soars after sand ban. Are suppliers taking advantage?
By Teh Jen Lee

IN just one afternoon, he lost close to $1,000 because his order of concrete was not delivered. Worse, the price of concrete had shot up by more than 50 per cent overnight - from $75 per cubic metre to $115. The $40 increase means he has to pay $40,000 more for the 1,000 cubic metres of grade-30 concrete that he needs to complete his project. And he has to pay cash, instead of having credit, like he did in the past.

Contractors like him have been hit hard by Indonesia's ban on sand exports which took effect from Tuesday. Authorities here have said the booming construction industry will not be affected.

But some contractors are wondering whether some concrete suppliers are trying to profit from the situation.

One contractor, who declined to be named because he was afraid of offending the concrete suppliers, said: 'I had rented a crane specially to move concrete and I had about 10 men on hand to work, but with no concrete on Thursday, we couldn't do anything. 'The crane cost more than $200, my manpower cost was more than $500. Altogether the afternoon cost me about $1,000, but I have nothing to show for it.'

Mr Tony Goh (below), a clerk-of-works in his 50s who is involved in the contractor's project, called The New Paper to highlight his plight. 'I know the price will increase but there's no justification for supply to stop so suddenly without warning,' he said.

Another contractor estimates that he may have to pay $100,000 more for the 2,500 cubic metres of concrete that he needs. 'I just started my project last month and it's scheduled to finish at the end of this year. My contract has no fluctuation clauses to take into account price changes,' said the 43-year-old, who gave his name as Phillip.

Concrete suppliers contacted by The New Paper did not deny that some suppliers may try to profit from the situation.


But they said that they were also feeling the pinch from the limited sand supply. One supplier said alternatives to sand are only feasible if they are available in large quantities.

He said: 'We are badly affected because our sand supply has been greatly reduced. We require 50 loads, but we only get 10 to 20 so we can't fulfil all our clients' needs. 'We have to do rationing and go on a first-come-first-serve basis. Everyone gets a bit so that some work can be done.'

How about the contractor who could not get any concrete on Thursday afternoon? The supplier said: 'The situation caught a lot of us by surprise. Many contractors who have concrete casting later in the day couldn't get any concrete.'

Dr Sujit Ghosh, president of the Ready-Mixed Concrete Association of Singapore, explained that many concrete suppliers normally have enough sand in their premises to last only a few hours.

'We are used to getting constant replenishment, but now the price and supply situation remains volatile. 'So we have to manage our little bit of sand stock.'

He knows of companies who are cutting output by up to 50 per cent because of the uncertainties in sand supply. He said that there is some speculation happening now because 'it is an unusual situation and people don't know what to do about it'.

For now, the industry is waiting for the mechanism of release from the government's strategic stockpile and for the price of sand to be determined. Dr Ghosh said: 'Until that happens, concrete suppliers can't come to grips with the sand ban so they raise prices and control supply carefully so as not to deplete their sand stock. 'We feel this situation is going to stop quite soon, but we just don't know when.'

No sand? Use ash or...

ASH and granite dust can be used to replace sand in concrete mixtures, according to Mr Tony Goh, who has been in construction for over 30 years. But such materials will be needed in large quantities.

As for switching to non-concrete components like steel and granite pile, these will be applicable to projects that are still in the planning stage. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said many residential projects are now using dry walls instead of concrete or brick walls.

Besides this, BCA is encouraging more extensive use of steel - now more common for high-rise building structures - for all types of buildings.

Mr Goh said: 'Some amount of concrete will still be required but it will be a lot less. For example, you can have metal decks with a thin layer of cement in place of thick concrete floors.

'Steel supply can be diversified more easily, unlike sand.' However, as these materials will cost more, the contractors will have to take this into account when bidding for projects. In the long run, these materials will be beneficial because they reduce construction time and projects will require fewer unskilled foreign workers on site, said Mr Goh.

'In the US, they use a lot of dry walls or plaster cement boards for internal partition walls. This omits brick walls and concrete plastering, which will speed things up.'

Meanwhile, according to reports, Indonesia imposed the ban for environmental reasons. Another reason was to protect Indonesia's borders although the inland mining of land sand, which is different from sea sand that is used in reclamation works, does not have any effect on territorial borders.

Straits Times 28 Jan 07
Riau exporters hit out at sand ban

BATAM - SAND exporters from the Riau Islands have expressed dissatisfaction with the Indonesian government's decision to ban sand exports, a news report said.

The decision would damage the islands' sand mining industry, which relies heavily on exports, said Mr Syahrul Jamal, general secretary of Riau Sand Exporting Businesspeople Association. It could also hurt up to 3,000 workers whose incomes depend on sand mining, Jakarta Post reported yesterday.

At least 300,000 cubic m of sand from Batam, Bintan, Karimun and Lingga would no longer be exported on a monthly basis to Singapore, the Riau Islands' main market, he said.

Trade Minister Mari Pangestu said on Tuesday that Indonesia had banned the export of some sand and soil products to prevent further damage to its environment and to protect its boundaries.

For the 32 sand-exploration businesses on Riau Islands, Singapore is more appealing than domestic markets, Mr Syahrul said. 'In terms of pricing and payment, exporting sand brings in more profits.'

Singaporean buyers pay around S$9 for one cubic m of sand, whereas local buyers pay around 90,000 rupiah (S$15). However, Singaporean buyers purchase the sand on the spot, pay in cash and organise transportation, he said.

Mr Syahrul said the new policy would reduce the production capacity of the Riau Islands' sand mining companies, according to Jakarta Post.

Singapore's construction industry has said it would tap other sources in the region and try to use alternative building materials such as steel to counter an expected shortfall arising from the ban.

Sandy Situation a huge pile of articles about sand, reclamation and Singapore on the leafmonkey blog; also on the environmental news blog

Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues and wild shores
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