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
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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The man-made, hugely popular summer Paris-Plages beaches along the Seine River, could be without sand next year, after complaints about the project’s disastrous ecological footprint and allegations that the company delivering the sand had “paid taxes” to Isis.
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While conservationists champion the reduction of the world’s resources, one important material right at our toes has gone largely unnoticed. Coastal sands are being heavily mined, diminishing the world’s beaches.
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Beaches around the world are disappearing. No, the cause isn’t sea-level rise, at least not this time. It’s a little-known but enormous industry called sand mining, which every year sucks up billions of tons of sand from beaches, ocean floors, and rivers to make everything from concrete to microchips to toothpaste.
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Work has begun on the maritime infrastructure that will constitute the first phase of the six-hectare land reclamation project. The total value of the maritime infrastructure works is approximately €1 billion.
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Following yesterday’s rally against Lannion’s Bay ongoing shell sand extraction, activists from the environmental group “Peuple Des Dunes” and local officials, are to meet with the french Environment Minister Segolene Royal, to request the suspension of the controversial dredging concession granted to CAN Industry, whose current practices have been deemed questionable.
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The environment ministry says it will have no mercy with people who are caught mining sand, and those who are found guilty of the offence face 25 years imprisonment or a fine of N$500,000, or both.
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For years, sand has been returned to eroded beaches and dunes on Galveston Island by bulldozers and backhoes at a cost of millions of dollars. Now, a new idea: let Mother Nature do the work.
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A plan to mine iron sands off the South Taranaki coast is back on the table.
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