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
Senate leaders hit the brakes last week on a fast-moving set of amendments to state environmental laws with several coastal-related provisions, including one that would for the first time target North Carolina’s three great capes as a sources of sand for beach re-nourishment.
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Montserrat residents are outraged and seeking answers as to why vast amounts of sand are being removed from Foxes Bay Beach in the south of the island. New photos taken on the beach show the sand being collected and put into trucks belonging to a local mining company.
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Harper, a town at West Africa’s most southern location, on Cape Palmas, is seriously under threat of being swallowed by violent waves from the Atlantic Ocean. The threat of erosion is blamed on persistent local sand mining.
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Substantial quantity of sand is currently being removed from the southern end of Carrs Bay Beach, and area that is both environmentally and ecologically sensitive.
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Sand mining will come to an end on North Stradbroke Island by 2019, reversing a decision by the former Newman administration to extend Sibelco’s lease to 2035.
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A local marine biologist is urging the authorities to take a firmer stance on the crime of sand mining at beaches across the Antigua & Barbuda.
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The expansive Lwera wetland is a major water catchment area that connects several rivers and wetlands in many districts and drains directly into Lake Victoria. For years on, the locals have lived in peace with the surroundings. However, over the past couple of months, sharp noises from sand dredgers are heard. Sand mining companies are breaching rules and are destroying the wetland.
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Activist Sumatra Abdulali, who has been threatened and attacked several times for raising the issue of sand mining, continues to raise awareness on the subject, to the local authorities.
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Officials in Crimea are warning people to stop stealing sand from tourist beaches, or else face a prison sentence. The peninsula’s beaches are being targeted by people who remove the sand for use as free building material, and at more remote beaches it’s being taken away by the lorry-load.
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