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
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).
Ethekwini Municipality has secured a high court order, shutting down what it says is an illegal sand mining operation in an environmentally sensitive area in Cato Ridge, near Durban.
A group of sand miners operating near the Yamuna riverbed allegedly shot at a man on Saturday night for opposing illegal sand mining taking place on his land. This is the second incident of the sand mafia opening fire in the past one week…
Illegal beach sand mining activities also plague the eastern Algerian coastal region. Despite a strict ban on sand mining, some powerful and yet unidentified people, are discreetly networking with the sand mafia to take over huge quantities of stolen sand close to the Algerian and Tunisian border.
Despite a large police deployment, illegal beach sand mining activities keep on expanding in the western region of Algeria, notably in Oran.
Beach sand mining has been identified to be widespread along the Ghanaian coastline, where almost every pocket of sandy beach is mined by commercial contractors or by groups of individuals.
Scientists, engineers, and government regulators are increasingly turning their attention to solving one of the chief environmental problems associated with fracking for natural gas and oil – significant leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
California’s Monterey Bay boasts one of the nation’s most protected coastlines, situated within a federal sanctuary that imposes bans on everything from Jet Skis to offshore drilling. Yet most days, hundreds of tons of sand are harvested from one of its most picturesque beaches, in a mining operation now coming under increased state and local scrutiny.
Sand Wars film documentary by Denis Delestrac, premieres in the United Kingdom 7.50pm, Wednesday 2 April Sky 534 & Virgin Media 243, on PBS America.