The world’s beaches are being mined for sand for a variety of uses (aggregate in concrete, fill, beach renourishment). The practice is often very destructive and poorly managed (or unmanaged). This is a global phenomenon (Morocco, Caribbean Islands, India, South Africa and more). This theft of beach and dune sand is a direct cause of erosion along many shorelines. It is very damaging to the beach fauna and flora, ruinous to beach aesthetics, and frequently causes environmental damage to other coastal ecosystems associated with the beach such as wetlands.
Another major impact of beach sand mining is the loss of protection from storms surges associated with tropical cyclones and tsunamis. Some communities affected by the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean had higher storm surges probably due to beach sand mining resulting in fatalities. Sometimes it is difficult to tell that a beach has been mined. Sand extraction becomes difficult to recognize as the beach readjusts to a new profile after a few storms. But historic accounts of beaches in the Caribbean often reveal that beaches have been narrowed considerably. Mining is particularly senseless in a time of rising sea level when sand is sorely needed as a storm energy buffer.
Surfing in / Sand Mining
The island off the southern tip of Malaysia reveals the future of building in an epoch of dwindling territory.
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Gambia’s tourism industry was bedeviled with a range of menaces including – indiscriminate dumping and littering of our beaches, as well as debasing of our beaches through sand mining and related environmental malpractices to other areas frequented by our coveted guests and tourists. The need to tackle the environmental and sanitary challenges of tourism, head on, therefore became imperative.
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African countries are raising alarm because of their disappearing coastlines. Beaches erode mainly because of illegal sand mining. A Swiss foundation wants to help Togo restore its coastline.
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As the saga of illegal beach sand mining drags on in the Madras high court, an interim order has finally called into question the role, or the lack thereof, played by the Centre over two decades in monitoring, curbing and enforcing laws preventing the illegal mining of beach sands from Tamil Nadu’s shores.
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Despite a ban on mining of beach sand since 2013, illicit mining and transportation of beach sand continued on a massive scale. A court filing reports that in 2013, over 90 lakh tonnes (9 million metric tonnes) of beach sand had been mined from 2 districts located at the southernmost tip of peninsular India, in Tamil Nadu State.
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The world is running low on sand. It’s a basic ingredient in construction – think skyscrapers, shopping malls, roads and windows – and cities are growing faster and bigger than at any time in history. Legal supply can’t keep up. So now organised criminals are hitting pay dirt, pillaging millions of tonnes of sand from the India’s beaches, riverbeds and hillsides.
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China has been building manmade bases over some of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea since 2014, specifically targeting shallower areas, sandbanks, and reefs—islands, the shallower the better; a place that won’t sink under a load of concrete.
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Of the Suriname coast, sand mining barges sighted at Braamspunt beach, came as a shock to the public and to local NGOs alike, as beach sand mining had been banned since December 2015.
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Bringing in some significant changes in the way it governs its coasts, the government is moving to remove the ban on reclamation of land in coastal areas for commercial or entertainment purposes while also allowing tourism activities even in ecologically sensitive areas along the shores.
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