IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


28th January, 2023 Economy

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


  • Coal India Ltd is gearing up to Launch M-Sand Projects in a big way.

M Sand:

  • M Sand is artificial sand made from the crushing of rock or granite for construction purposes in cement or concrete.
  • It is used as a substitute for river sand.
  • M sand differs from natural river sand in its physical and mineralogical properties.


Finding Alternative Sand: What was the need?

  • Sand is classified as a “minor mineral”, under The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act).
  • And administrative control over minor minerals vests with the State Governments.
  • Accordingly, these minerals are regulated through State specific rules.
  • Due to high demand, regulated supply and a complete ban of sand mining during monsoon to protect river ecosystem, finding alternative to river sand became necessary.

M-Sand from Overburden (OB) of coal mines

  • Sand Mining Framework (2018) prepared by Ministry of Mines envisages alternative sources of sand in the form of Manufactured Sand (M-Sand) from crushed rock fines (crusher dust), sand from Overburden (OB) of coal mines.


Overburden is the rock or soil layer that needs to be removed in order to access the ore being mined. Overburden is also referred to as spoil or waste. Overburdens are removed from surface mining and do not contain toxic components, unlike tailings, which is another type of underground mining waste.

In mining, overburden (also called waste or spoil) lends itself to economical exploitation, such as the rock, soil, and ecosystem that lies above a coal seam or ore body.


  • Basically, during Opencast mining the overlying soil and rocks are removed as waste to extract coal and the fragmented rock (Overburden or OB) is heaped in dumps. Most of the waste is disposed of at the surface which occupies a large land area and requires extensive planning and control to minimize the environmental impact of mining. Coal India Ltd (CIL) has envisaged processing the overburden rocks for sand production in mines where OB material contains about 60% sandstone by volume harnessed through crushing and processing of Overburden.
  • To expedite Overburden to Sand utilization initiative, Coal India Limited has prepared a Model Bid Document for installing more such plants across subsidiaries.

Benefits of manufacturing M- Sand from Overburden Coal Mines:

Manufactured Sand (M-Sand) from overburden of coal mines have several benefits in terms of economy and environmental sustainability, including:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Using manufactured sand can be more cost-effective than using natural sand, as it can be produced in large quantities at a lower cost.
  • Consistency: Manufactured sand can have a consistent grain size and shape, which can be beneficial for construction projects that require a specific type of sand.
  • Environmental benefits: Using manufactured sand can help to reduce the need for mining natural sand, which can have negative environmental impacts. Additionally, using the overburden from coal mines can help to repurpose materials that would otherwise be considered waste.
  • Reduced water consumption: Using manufactured sand can help to reduce the amount of water required for construction projects, as it does not require washing before use.
  • Better workability: Manufactured sand is more angular and has a rougher surface, which makes it more workable for construction projects.
  • Land occupied by OB dumps can be freed for alternative useful purposes.
  • Recovery of sand from waste overburden is the best out-of-waste product.
  • Commercial sale of produced sand can generate additional revenue for coal companies.
  • Apart from commercial use, sand produced shall also be consumed for sand stowing in Underground Mines enhancing safety & conservation.
  • Lesser Sand extraction from rivers will reduce erosion of channel bed & banks and protect water habitat.
  • Help maintain water table.

Read more about M-Sand in detail: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/m-sand-27