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MPA sets out long-term aggregate demand and supply scenarios for Great Britain

Published by , Assistant Editor
World Cement,

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has set out long-term aggregate demand and supply scenarios for Great Britain until 2030.

The study aims to provide the industry and industry stakeholders with indications of the potential volumes of aggregates that may be needed to satisfy future demand, reflecting the UK’s needs for construction, including housebuilding and infrastructure. The MPA hopes that the study will help revive interest and dialogue about the provision of aggregate supplies for the long-term among all key stakeholders.

Key findings include:

  • Demand projections suggest that by 2030, 267 million tpy of aggregates might be needed to satisfy construction needs.
  • Further declines in material intensity however could result in aggregates demand peaking at 220 million tpy in 2023, before undergoing a steady decline to 200 million tpy by 2030.
  • The cumulative demand for aggregates until 2030 could be between 3.2 and 3.8 billion t.
  • While there appear to be sufficient indigenous mineral resources available to support future demand requirements, there are issues around the supply-mix that need to be addressed.
  • Under all supply scenarios considered, significant tonnages of primary aggregates will be needed, supplying between 63% and 72% of overall demand, with recycled and secondary materials providing the balance.
  • The decline in permitted reserves of land-won sand and gravel over the last 10 years points to growing reliance on other sources, particularly crushed rock and marine sand and gravel, to meet future demand.
  • Alternative sources of aggregates, including recycling, secondary materials and imports, have a role to play but are unlikely to be a game changer given their constraints. The share of recycled and secondary aggregates varies between 28% and 37% of overall demand.
  • Future supply of aggregates also faces additional challenges related to issues around transport infrastructure, safeguarding essential minerals infrastructure e.g. wharves and rail-heads and access to skills.

Aurelie Delannoy, Chief Economist, Mineral Products Association, said: "A clear message that comes out of this study is that however cautious you are about the prospects for future construction needs and the resulting aggregates demand, significant volumes of primary aggregate materials will be needed over the next 15 years or so. Construction activity will be dominated by our need to upgrade and renew vital infrastructure, including in energy and transport, whilst also building more housing. Strategic infrastructure projects currently in the pipeline, including Hinkley Point C and High Speed 2, as well as the potential for building tidal lagoons in the longer term, will only be possible if future aggregates supply can support the levels of demand that are anticipated."

"The industry already faces challenges logistically and on skills, but the decline in land-won sand and gravel permitted reserves over the last 10 years, if continued, will put significant pressure on all other sources of aggregates materials to fill the gap. Recycling and secondary materials, alongside increased imports, will have a role to play, but they are no game changer. The major source of aggregates supply for the foreseeable future will need to come from indigenous primary sources."

Mark Russell, Executive Director of Planning and Mineral, Mineral Products Association said: "While Government is understandably focussed on the policy priorities of delivering housing and infrastructure, this study demonstrates that unless the link is made to the essential mineral resources upon which they rely there is a growing risk that the ability to provide the most cost effective and sustainable supply solutions will be missed. Long term construction ambitions need to be supported by a properly resourced, long term mineral planning system to ensure the right resources are available in the right place and at the right time to support sustainable growth. It is vital that Government, planning authorities, NGOs and the industry work together to address these issues before avoidable shortages occur in the medium term."

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Aggregates news UK cement news