Domestic mineral consumption

In the Netherlands, (non-metallic) minerals are predominantly used in the construction sector. Domestic consumption of non-metal minerals fell sharply between 2008 and 2013. The decrease was in conjunction with the economic crisis, which strongly affected construction activities. From 2000 onwards, domestic mineral consumption has plummeted by almost 40 percent.

Included among (non-metallic) minerals are both mineral resources (e.g. sand and gravel) and products composed of minerals (e.g. bricks and glass). Domestic mineral consumption is calculated as imports plus domestic extraction minus exports. Excavated soil (used, for example, for land reclamations, construction of dikes and dams) is excluded in this analysis since it primarily reflects the activities of large one-off infrastructure projects (for example Maasvlakte 2, Port of Rotterdam).

The issue

Raw materials are key inputs for our economy. Worldwide population growth and increasing prosperity have led to greater demand for products and consequently for the natural resources they are made of. Environmental pressures from CO2 emissions and water use, for example, increase as a result. One of the main challenges in the transition to green growth is ensuring that materials are used efficiently at all points in the production process.

Analysis

Domestic mineral consumption reached a peak value in 2006 and dipped to its lowest point in 2013. From that year onwards, consumption has appeared more or less stable. The minerals with the highest level of consumption are sand and gravel, used mainly as input for the production of construction materials. Construction activities dwindled in 2008 on account of the economic crisis, resulting in decreased mineral consumption. Imports of minerals in particular decreased after 2008. The value added of the building materials industry and the construction sector show a pattern similar to that of mineral consumption.

International comparison

The Netherlands had the lowest mineral consumption level among all European countries in 2016. This is at least partly due to the high population density. High population density leads to an efficient use of built infrastructure because it is used by many people.