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
Kailua residents are demanding answers after a dump truck filled with sand was spotted leaving Kailua Beach Park and heading to town. Residents say it was all the more suspect because of the Kuhio Beach erosion headlines at the same time.
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Encroaching waters off the coast of Togo, Ghana, Mauritania, and others are destroying homes, schools, fish, and a way of life.
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Tormin’s mining practice, which deviated significantly from the original environmental authorisation provisions of the mining license, has been in the spotlight since the mine began operations in March 2014. These include the construction of structures on the beach zone, mining directly on the beaches, and questions about a massive collapse of the sea cliffs below the mine processing plant.
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People investing thousands of dollars in residential buildings near the Atlantic Beach in Duazon risk losing their properties as a result of rampant sand mining there.
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To stake its claim in the strategic South China Sea, China is building airstrips, ports, and other facilities on disputed islands and reefs. Scientists say the activities are destroying key coral reef ecosystems and will heighten the risks of a fisheries collapse in the region.
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As rising sea levels threaten to engulf homes along the shores of Tamil Nadu state, locals fear the erosion of the coastline is due to the illegal sand trade.
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India’s booming 157 billion dollar construction sector is expected to grow in the coming years. This means that the demand for sand and other minor minerals will increase as well, making it more difficult for the government to curb the methodical and unlawful abuse of riverbeds and coastal areas.
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Amid rising seas, Belgium plans on building an artificial island off its coast, in a step towards climate change mitigation. 8 millions euros have been provided in funding of the project study.
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Beach replenishment is costly and exacts a heavy toll on the environment, depleting underwater ridges that are home to a broad variety of sea life. Skeptics questioned how the state and Army Corps of Engineers can commit to spending nearly $2 billion in beach replenishment through the mid 21st century.
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