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Economics

What is the supply and demand of aggregates in Britain?

Introduction
Aggregates dominate land-won minerals extraction in the UK accounting for about 70% of total production in 2003. A wide range of aggregate types contribute to overall supply in the UK and all sources - land-won primary aggregates, marine-dredged sand and gravel, recycled and secondary aggregates, and imports - have a role to play.

Supply
In Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) in 2003 it is estimated that of a total aggregate supply of nearly
270 million tonnes
;
  • 70% was obtained from aggregate deposits on land    (sand and gravel, and crushed rock),
  • 5% from marine-dredged sources and
  • 25% from recycled and secondary sources.
     
It is Government policy to reduce the contribution of aggregate supply from land-won sources by encouraging the wider use of alternatives, notably recycled and secondary. It is now generally recognised that about 90% of what can be usefully recycled is being used.
 
It is Government policy to reduce the contribution of aggregate supply from land-won sources by encouraging the wider use of alternatives, notably recycled and secondary. A number of economic instruments have been introduced to encourage this process.

Great Britain: Sales of primary aggregates, 1972-2003.

Great Britain: sales of primary aggregates, 1972-2003.

  Great Britain: Aggregate supply, 2003.

Great Britain: aggregate supply, 2003.

Consequently the use of recycled aggregates, in particular, has increased significantly in recent years. However, it is now generally recognised that about 90% of what can be usefully recycled is being used. Moreover, whilst there are significant resources of secondary aggregates, such as china clay sand and slate waste, these are geographically remote from major centres of demand and there are major logistical, economic and environmental problems in getting these materials to the market.

Sales of primary aggregates in Great Britain, including marine-dredged sand and gravel, for the period 1972 - 2003 is shown in the graph. Sales have been declining for several years and are substantially down on peak production of 300 million tonnes in 1989.

In England and Wales the principal source of crushed rock aggregate is limestone/dolomite, whereas in Scotland the dominant source is igneous rock. No marine sand and gravel is landed in Scotland whilst in England and Wales marine-dredged sand and gravel accounted for 16% and 45% respectively of total sales of sand and gravel in 2003.

An overview of aggregate supply in Great Britain is summarised in Table 1. (click here for Great Britain: Summary of aggregates supply, 2003 ).

 



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