This sand is a key raw material in glass production.
Phoenicia America-Israel (Flat Glass) recently contacted the Central District Planning Commission and Beersheva Mayor Yaakov Terner, and asked them to reject the plan. Phoenicia wants the supply of sand to Negev Industrial Minerals, its supplier, to continue.
Phoenicia claims that approving the nature reserve plan will render reserves of sand inaccessible. The Phoenicia plant is the only one in Israel that produces raw glass. Phoenicia buys 270-290 tons of sand per day from Negev Industrial Minerals.
Phoenicias legal representative told the commission that sand mined from the Great Crater was irreplaceable. He added that Israel had no alternative source of sand, despite decades of efforts to find this raw material.
Phoenicia says that making the Great Crater a nature reserve will force it to close down. The company currently has exports of $65 million, amounting to 85% of its production, and employs 300 full-time workers.
Phoenicia president Oded Tyrah told "Globes" that the sand production problem was not his companys only recent problem. The steep rises in oil prices and Oil Refineries decision to discontinue production of olefin-free industrial gas, an essential element in gas production, have hit Phoenicia hard.
Tyrah said that all the restrictions and difficulties cast doubt on the companys future in Israel. He said his threat was not an idle one, but that it was a matter of failures that could well prevent Phoenicia from doing business in Israel.