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
For centuries, beach sand has been mined for use as aggregate in concrete, for heavy minerals, and for construction fill.
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Faced with rising sea levels and coastal erosion caused in part by coastal sand mining, carting away of free beach sand for commercial uses, the national government has begun a campaign to save its coastal sand by digging up sand inland, instead. But communities near these newly-created sand collection spots are fighting back.
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In Morocco, the extraction of beach and dune sand for use in the construction industry is destroying significant portions of the nation’s natural heritage.
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Beach sand: so common, so complex, so perfect for sand castles and now a precious and vanishing resource.
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Singapore is struggling to find the sand it needs for its gigantic land reclamation and construction projects.
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Kurnell Peninsula is in danger of becoming an island.
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Coastal erosion has wiped out dozens of homes and left nearly 200 inhabitants homeless in Buchanan. Most of the erosion is caused by unregulated sand mining.
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Miami Beach leaders are eyeing sand from foreign sources such as the Bahamas, as the domestic supply runs dry.
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