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
Sand is becoming a necessary component in fuelling the construction boom that is driving the rapid pace of urbanisation and rapid economic growth patterns in Kenya. Many of Kenya’s poor youth are turning to sand mining as a quick way of earning money, despite the deadly risks due to poor sand harvesting methods.
“As precious as gold … That was how then-president Hu Jintao described Caofeidian during his visit in 2006. It was pledged to be ‘the world’s first fully realised eco-city’ – yet 10 years and almost $100bn later, only a few thousand inhabitants have moved to this land reclaimed from the sea …”
Hundreds of fishermen, in Selangor State, are facing huge financial losses after their monthly catch is slashed by half over the last three months allegedly because of sand mining near their fishing spot.
The Newman Government has misled the media and the public over its amendments to North Stradbroke Island sand mining legislation.
The practice of illegal mining is common in the entire state of Uttar Pradesh, India, along the riverbeds as there is constant demand for sand. The builders in the region are always on the lookout for cheap sand which comes from a mafia that illegally mines the riverbed.
The National Park Service has backed off its proposal to use dredged sand to fight erosion on North Carolina’s Shackleford Banks, pleasing both environmentalists, who want to maintain the barrier island’s pristine condition, and local beach town officials, who want the sand for their shores.
A report on the threat to the environment in Liberia released by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) states that erosion in this West African country is causing the shoreline to recede in some cities, including Buchanan, Greenville, Harper and Robertsport, and that beach sand mining is also said to be the main contributing factor.
An application to mine ironsands off the south Taranaki coast has been declined. In today’s decision, the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency said the major reason for refusing consent was the uncertainty around the scope and significance of potential environmental effects.
New Zealand decides tomorrow whether to approve to mine the black sands off the oceanfloor in the southern Taranaki Bight, that would likely become the world’s first commercial metals mine at the bottom of the sea.