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
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.
Environmental activists believe that dam officials are bribed by a sand mafia to open the gates at one go instead of releasing the water slowly, as is being done in other dams. The fast discharge of a huge volume of water leads to large amount of sand getting settled on riverbeds, which dry up fast.
A remote island of the Indonesian archipelago is being stripped off its forests and dug up for tin used in millions of mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Tin mining is taking its toll on the island’s coastline, damaging mangrove forests that help protect it from tropical storms and big waves.
Even though stringent laws are in place to curb illegal sand mining, they are frequently violated. Pune division will soon emulate the Solapur model of barcoding system that aims to check illegal sand mining. The authorities will issue a barcoded slip to the driver ferrying sand and track the vehicle from the loading spot to the delivery point.
“Chaque grain de sable compte. ” A Greenpeace-Suisse interview with “Sand Wars” film director Denis Delestrac.
The Togolese Minister of Mines, Noupokou Dammipi, said that the recent decision by the Government to close down 90% of the illegal sand quarries, was justified by reasons pertaining to environmental protection.
Environmental expert Babacar Gaye explains how gravely coastal erosion is affecting Senegal, notably underlying the detrimental consequences of sand mining in Saint-Louis’ region (Barbary Tongue).