WA sand prices surge as demand outstrips supply

by | Nov 25, 2022

Image source: https://www.abc.net.au/(ABC South West: Georgia Hargreaves)

A potential sand shortage looms as an overlooked problem amidst timber shortages and other concerns within the building sector, but will soon need to be confronted.

Industry figures accessing sand in Western Australia’s South West is becoming increasingly difficult and demand is driving prices up reports ABCNews. Leeuwin Civil owner Lissa Wypynaszko said the cost of getting sand to her Busselton business has nearly doubled over the last year.

“It has gone from six dollars a tonne ex-pit, so that is just being loaded into the truck on the property, to $10,” Ms Wypynaszko told the news outlet.

“Given the season is just starting and demand is not going to slow I can confidently say that will increase again.”

Sand is a major resource required by the construction industry for subdivision developments, house pads and road projects. Ms Wypynaszko said high demand from new housing developments and limited availability of the resource were just two of several factors contributing to the rising price.

“It is also a lack of access to what we have, so we have conflicting land uses or nearby schools and environmentally sensitive areas, tourist attractions, farmers wanting to hang onto their resource for a little while longer,” she said.

“We have pretty tight specifications that we need to comply with for certain uses of the material, so not every bit of sand is the quality we can use.”

After the closure of several pits in his region, Anstee Earthmoving supervisor, Zac Desira, said his Busselton firm had been forced to source sand from Donnybrook which is about 60 kilometres away.

“I have set up a road train from Donnybrook to try and make it more cost-effective, but the trucks are only doing four or five loads a day, whereas they would do 10 to 15 if it was a local pit. For five loads you are looking at close to $2,500 in trucking whereas before it was $400-$500 for trucking,” he said.

Mr Desira said he and other companies had been stockpiling sand to ensure they had enough to complete contracts.

“On average we would use 500 to 600 tonnes a week,” he said. “If we cannot get the sand, then it is more or less game over for the earthworks side of things.”

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said the government would continue to support local sand extraction where it could.

“Without having local sand you will be transporting a lot which impacts road usage and road safety, and the costs are also impacted,” she said.

“There is always the tension because in some incidences there are concerns about the environment but we have to manage these; this is a balance as a government you try and manage.”