Category Archives: Sand Mining

Government of Morocco on Tar Sands potential.

oil-sand
Oil sand. Photo source: ©© Suncor energy

Excerpts;

The on shore oil spill at the US Golf Coast and the ensuing environmental disaster, the shortage of drilling sites and high Oil prices have pushed the oil companies to look at “unconventional” hydrocarbon deposits in places such as Morocco, Jordan as well as the US . Canada’s current development of tar sands has triggered a rush by oil companies to set up similar operations in Russia, Congo and others. Canada is currently the only major center of production but investment is expanding by oil companies such as BP, Shell, Total and ENI.

However, environmental groups consider that Tar sands and oil shale to be much more damaging to the planet than normal oil operations because extraction is highly carbon- and water-intensive.

Read Full Article; By Oilsandtruth.com

Sand mining renders land erosion in Kerala

Mining Kerala Sand

Kerala Sate is located in the southwestern tip of the Indian peninsula and extends between the latitude 10°00 North and longitude 76°25 East.

Kerala is bound by the Arabian Sea on the west, Karnataka on the North and Northeast, and Tamil Nadu on the east.The Arabian sea claims large chunks of the shore every season in Kerala.

Despite the accelerating loss of coastline, sand miners continue to gouge into the black mineral sand, speeding up the process.

A centuries old farming village on the Kerala coastline is on the verge of being washed away by the sea.

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Scotland pristine white sand targeted by thieves in midnight raids

Tiree

By Moira Kerr, The Scotsman.

It boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Britain, but it could soon be a case of paradise lost on the Isle of Tiree.

Tiree, called ‘the Hawaii of the north’ by windsurfers, is famed for its unspoiled white beaches, but an estate factor warns that sand has been disappearing by the truckload

For sneak thieves are carrying out midnight raids on the Hebridean island’s spectacular shores, stealing tonne upon tonne of sand.

A large chunk of Tiree and its magnificent white sand beaches falls under the ownership of the Duke of Argyll’s estate. And the thefts have escalated to such a point that Andrew Montgomery, Argyll Estates’ factor, has fired a warning shot to the culprits.

In a letter published in an island newsletter, he wrote: “Extraction is still taking place, and indeed over the Christmas period dumper trailers were loaded at Barrapol overnight and their loads of sand subsequently transferred to one tonne bags at the Crossapol camp.

“It seems the idea here was apparently to make it appear that the sand had been imported legitimately from a mainland source.

“I am aware of the culprits and of those using this material, and if you are intent on carrying on in the same manner, I will have no option but to prosecute without warning.

“The continuing close interest of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH] and Argyll and Bute Council planning enforcement officers is forever present. However, not withstanding this, all commercial users of sand and gravel on Tiree have been warned in writing that commercial extraction is illegal, and that further instances of unlawful sand/mineral extraction for commercial building and/or building supply purposes will amount to common theft. I am sure the majority of islanders understand the need for due diligence on my part.”

Island crofters have a legal right to take small scale quantities of sand for use on their land, but Ian Gillies, Argyll Estates representative on Tiree, said yesterday: “The minimal extraction we don’t have an issue with; it is the commercial extraction that we do have a problem with, along with the planning department and Scottish Natural Heritage.”

Known by windsurfers as the “Hawaii of the north” Tiree is so low-lying it is often referred to as the land beneath the waves.

SNH officer Ross Lilley said: “SNH is interested, but it’s not necessarily about the immediate cause and effect, it’s the long term potential threat on the coastland.

“There is a long-term trend of sea levels rising, you get climate change and the coastline is vulnerable. It’s something the community has to protect in the long term, because they are vulnerable to further erosion.”

He added: “We would like to work with the community to find a way of making sure that they get some source of sand and gravel, but in such a way that it doesn’t cause long-term erosion to the coastline.

“We did commission a study by the British Geological Survey about where there were mineral losses on the island and where there could be a quarry. That study is still available, it’s really a planning issue.”

A Tiree builder, who did not want to be named, said: “We bring all our sand and gravel in from Oban and it’s a bit unfair if some people are paying for it and some aren’t.”

He said there were a number of commercial builders on Tiree but was unaware of who was taking sand from the beaches.

He added: “Argyll Estates had permitted it to be taken from certain beaches, but then SNH got involved, it was all to do with coastal erosion.

“We as builders got a letter from Argyll Estates, saying we weren’t to use sand and gravel from the beaches, and we have adhered to this.”

Original Article

The damages caused by Singapore’s insatiable thirst for land

Sand Mining Bangladesh

By Tom Levitt.

While logging and deforestation has gained global attention the growing sand mining sector is being largely ignored. Fuelled by Singapore’s land and construction demands it is wreaking environmental destruction across south-east Asia

The fast growing market for sand in south-east Asia, particularly from Singapore, is being linked to widespread damage to coastal ecosystems and fish stocks.

The densely populated state of Singapore has expanded in size by more than 20 per cent since the 1960s by reclaiming vast amounts of land from the sea, in doing so becoming the world’s biggest importer of sand – 14.2 million tonnes in 2008.



Most of its exports have come from neighbouring Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam but all three have now attempted to limit or ban exports of sand. With plans to expand its surface area by a further 7 per cent by 2020, Singapore is becoming increasingly reliant on another one of its neighbours, Cambodia, to meet its demand.

Although Cambodia publicly maintains that it has banned sand exports, an investigation by the NGO Global Witness has estimated that 796,000 tonnes of sand with a retail value of US$248 million are still being extracted and exported to Singapore every year from just one province, Koh Kong.


Ecological damage

The extraction is coming at a significant environmental cost. Dredging reduces water quality by increasing turbidity, blocking sunlight and killing off plant life, including seagrass and coral. Sand extraction also disrupts natural sedimentary regimes causing increased erosion and greater flood risks. There have also been reports of significant declines in fish stocks.

Campaigners are now worried that the rapid rise in sand mining activity in Cambodia could see the Koh Kong province in particular meet the same fate as Indonesia’s Riau Islands. Over-extraction there led to significant damage to coral reefs and entire islands disappearing, forcing the authorities to ban sand exports back in 2007.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, did announce a ban on sand exports last year but Global Witness later found this only covered river sand and not seabed sand. It claims the sector is rife with corruption and largely controlled by individuals close to the ruling elite in the country. 



Sand dredging licences, Global Witness maintains, are being allocated inside protected mangrove and seagrass habitats. Local newspapers have also reported villagers being attacked and killed during forced evictions from areas of increased sand extraction.


‘Ultimately the people who are reliant most on the natural resources will lose out: fishermen who are being evicted or seeing their stocks plummet from sand dredging boats coming through their catch area; and indigenous people,’ said Global Witness campaigner George Boden.

Corruption

Having already logged much of the country’s forest resources, Global Witness accuse Cambodia’s elite, in collusion with mining companies, of switching their attention to sand.

The report says there is little evidence that any of the financial benefit from the booming sand mining trade is benefiting the country as a whole.

‘Millions of dollars are changing hands, but there is no way of tracking whether royalties, taxes and other revenues generated are reaching the national treasury…as usual, it is Cambodia’s poor who have borne the brunt of this elite capture, with loss of their livelihoods and coastal environments,’ the report says.

While the problem is being felt most critically in Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia, Global Witness says the majority of the blame lies with Singapore, which it accuses of ignoring concerns about the environmental impact of its sand imports as it gives the go-ahead to new racing tracks, casinos and port developments requiring yet more sand. 


In response to the NGOs findings, the Singapore Government said the import of sand to Singapore was done on a commercial basis and that they were ‘not party to any agreement or contract for the import of sand’.

However, Global Witness says it has evidence that government ministries were involved in buying sand, allegedly from Cambodia.

Illegal trade

In fact the industry has become so lucrative that as neighbouring countries implement bans to safeguard their ecosystems, there has been a growing market from Singapore for smuggled sand.



Greenpeace Indonesia says smugglers had no problem getting their exports into Singapore and were ‘rarely intercepted by customs boats or the navy’. It said 300 million cubic metres of sand was being exported illegally every year.

There have also been reports that Singapore is turning its attention to sand mining opportunities in Bangladesh, a country where erosion is already threatening its coastline.

Global Witness says the onus is now on Singapore to act: ‘The Singapore government tries to portray itself as a regional environmental leader and is hosting the World Cities Summit in June this year showcasing its environmental leadership. The reality is their demand for sand is having a hugely damaging impact on the environment in surrounding countries.

‘Its failure to mitigate the social and ecological cost of sand dredging represents hypocrisy on a grand scale,’ said Boden.

The NGO says the country should bring in guidelines for construction companies on the sustainable sourcing of raw materials.

Jerry Berne from Sustainable Shorelines, which campaigns on sand dredging, says reforming the sector may prove difficult.

‘Unfortunately for our coastlines and the ecosystems these sustain, the dredging industry, its consultants, shipping interests and many governmental agencies are deeply committed to this process and the profits it generates.’

However, he said dredging could be done sustainably. ‘Not all dredging is a bad thing. In its place and properly vetted for its environmental impacts (not the often questionable reports from industry backers), dredging might be a relatively safe mining practice. Today, however, too little efforts goes into insuring this.

‘Also, it seems too many of those who should know about the harm being done by it are either ignorant or remain silent,’ said Berne.

Original Article

Bangladesh and Illegal Sand Mining: Read Full Article, Dredging Today (01-26-2010)
The government is going to formulate a policy to stop haphazard sand extraction from different rivers as unplanned sand extraction is harming the country’s aquatic resources…

Sand Trafficking: Elaborate Schemes, Worlwide

helicopter-beach
Military helicopter flying the shoreline. Photo source: ©© chapstickaddict

Excerpts

Police tape goes up every day in trouble spots all across Mexico but is rarely unfurled on the beach. One oceanfront stretch in Cancún, however, was closed off to the public recently after the federal government deemed it a crime scene , the target of what prosecutors consider an elaborate scheme to steal sand…

Read Full Article, By Marc Lacey, The New York Times

Le sable marin devient un objet de trafic, Le Monde – 29/03/2010

ASP Martin: Sand Mining is Rivalling the Drug Trade, Grenada Island News
The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has found itself being challenged to deal with another illegal business on the island, which is said to be fast “rivaling the already growing illegal drug trade”. The issue of sand mining was brought to the fore by Superintendent of Police, Edvin Martin during a news briefing with local reporters at the Grenada Red Cross building last week Thursday…

Tar sands oil extraction spreading rapidly, report warns.

Tar sands

By Terry Macalister, The Guardian, UK.

The successful development of Canada’s tar sands has triggered a rush by Shell and other oil companies to set up similar operations in Russia, Congo and even Madagascar, a new report reveals.

Soaring crude prices and an growing shortage of drilling sites have encouraged the energy industry to look at a series of “unconventional” hydrocarbon deposits threatening vulnerable environment and communities in places such as Jordan, Morocco as well as the US, Friends of the Earth says in a review called Tar sands – fuelling the energy crisis.

The revelations come just 24 hours before Shell’s annual general meeting and on the day when Ceres, a coalition of a investors and environmentalists, launches its own survey warning that Canadian tar sands extraction could pose an even bigger risk to an oil company share price than the US rig disaster which has knocked $30bn (£20.6bn) off the value of BP.

Tar sands and oil shale are considered by green groups to be much more damaging to the planet than normal oil operations because extraction is highly carbon- and water-intensive.

“Tar sands, bitumen that is extracted and upgraded to produce synthetic crude, has been heavily criticised for its poor environmental and social outcomes, locally and globally. Canada is currently the only major centre of production but investment is expanding, including by European oil companies such as BP, Shell, Total and ENI,” the Friends of the Earth report says.

The group wants the European Union to use its fuel quality directive to take into account the different carbon footprints of oil-based fuels entering the EU by assigning them a value to represent the strength of their greenhouse gas effect. Otherwise “it will encourage the global expansion of tar sands putting vulnerable communities at risk, and will slow progress towards the EU’s wider climate and energy goals”.

BP is developing tar sands in Alberta and also in Venezuela, the world’s second largest reserves after Canada, where it is active on the Petromonagas block and is also considering the Ayacucho 2 block.

Shell, which led the charge into Alberta, has been working with Tatneft to produce tar sands crude at the Ashalchinskoye field in Tatarstan, in the Russian Federation.

ENI of Italy has signed an agreement with the energy ministry in Republic of Congo to invest in tar sands although it says it will not use the methods being employed by others in Canada.

BP and Shell contest claims by Friends of the Earth and others that tar sands are up to five times as carbon-intensive to exploit as normal crude. Shell says it hopes to mitigate the impact by using carbon capture and storage techniques, although the technologies are unproven on a large scale.

Oil shale, a rock containing kerogen from which synthetic crude can be extracted by heating it to very high temperatures, is in abundant supply in Jordan. Shell finalised a deal last year to operate on the AzraQ and Al Jafr blocks via its Jordan Shale Company.

A spokesman for Shell said its operations in Jordan were at an early stage and claiming that although tar sands made headlines they were a very small part of the company’s overall business. “They make up 2.5% of our overall production and even after planned expansion in Canada they will only make up 4%,” he said.

Friends of the Earth points out that Jordan is one of the driest countries on earth and is estimated to have a water shortage of 320m cubic metres this year. “Oil shale production will exacerbate this trend hugely, as one barrel of shale requires as much as 3.2 barrels of water to upgrade,” the report notes.

There is also oil company interest in shale deposits at 10 locations in Morocco, two in Egypt as well as a “bitumen belt” in Nigeria which is already suffering major environmental damage from oil spills in the delta and the flaring of excess gas.

Meanwhile the Ceres report, launched by its president Mindy Lubber, highlights not only the widespread environmental and social impact of oil sands development, but also the high production costs and limited market for this fuel, for which companies have committed $200 billion in investments. Shareholder resolutions requesting expanded oil sands risk disclosure have been filed this year with leading oil sands producers, including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.

Original Article

Sand mining company proposes expanding Stradbroke national parks

Australia Sand Mining

Excerpts;

The sand mining company Unimin is calling for large areas of Stradbroke Island off Brisbane to be declared national park as soon as possible.

The company has mining leases over about 45 per cent of the island, off Brisbane.

Unimin spokesman Paul Smith says new national parks would benefit residents, and traditional owners, who have an unresolved native title claim on the island.

Yet, mining will continue even if some parts of the island are declared national park…

Read Full Article, By Stephanie Smail, ABC News


Mining in Stradbroke Island, Queensland Australia: Wikipedia

During the 1960s sand mining operations began mining the islands frontal dunes.[citation needed] Mining moved into the interior of the island in the late 1960s and increased in scale and size. As an alternative, development of the island for seaside residential use was mooted and in 1970 a bridge from the mainland via Russell Island was under serious consideration by the Queensland government. The Queensland government also proposed a large scale redevelopment of the island in the mid 1980’s which would have seen the population of the island increase 10 fold. This proposal was never followed through when the incumbent government lost office. From the 1960s to the 1980s sand miners mined the frontal dunes of the ocean beach from Jumpinpin to Point Lookout. This mining activity destroyed numerous ancient Aboriginal middens and campsites in the sheltered areas behind the frontal dunes.[citation needed] Unique ecosystems which lay between the 18 Mile Swamp and the ocean were also destroyed. Generally there was little more than a token effort to re-vegetate mined areas so that 30 years after the area was mined the dunal areas are still ecologically devastated. There is also strong anecdotal evidence that in the 1960s one of the early mining companies destroyed a shipwreck located in the sand dunes near Jumpinpin which may have been the reputed Stradbroke Galleon.There are several accounts from sand mining employees of unusual artifacts being found during dredging operations.

However, the understanding of the island’s environmental and native heritage value was on the rise. In 1991 the Australian Government and sand mining companies ACI and Consolidated Rutile Pty Ltd attempted to reach an agreement on surrender of some or parts of mining lease tenements to form a national park. Half of North Stradbroke Island was to become a National Park in return for a guarantee that mining could continue for the life of several mines in high grade areas. The agreement was never signed by either of the mining companies nor the government and has not been progressed to this day. Mineral sands and silica sands at Myora Mine, near Dunwich, are currently being mined from the surface whilerutile, zircon and ilmenite are dredged from the Yarraman Mine on the north of the island and the Enterprise Mine on the south of the island by Consolidated Rutile Limited. In 2009 500,000 tonnes of minerals were being produced by mining about 50 million tonnes of sand. According to the Stradbroke Island Management Organisation (an environmental organisation) two-thirds of the island is covered by mining leases.

Ancestors’ Bones Halt Sand Mining

Kohimarama-Beach

By Simon Collins, The New Zealand Herald.

Plans to take sand from near Pakiri Beach to replenish Auckland’s Kohimarama Beach are in limbo, with Ngati Wai dissident Greg McDonald seeking a High Court injunction to stop the project.

Mr McDonald also applied on Monday for a judicial review of a decision by Conservation Minister Chris Carter to allow sand-mining company Kaipara Ltd to take up to 2 million cu m of sand from a 500sq km area between Pakiri and Little Barrier Island during the next 20 years.

Kaipara is fighting both the injunction and the judicial review, and has hit back by asking the Legal Services Agency to review Mr McDonald’s legal aid on the basis that he has no valid legal grounds for the two actions.

Kaipara’s lawyer Kitt Littlejohn said the Pakiri sand-mining permit that Mr Carter granted on February 19 was the only one with enough scope to provide for the Auckland City Council’s planned $6 million Kohimarama Beach replenishment.

Waikato University Professor Terry Healy, a consultant to Kaipara, found that relocating the mining would end the beach erosion at Pakiri because the new source of sand would be at least 2km offshore and in water at least 25m deep.

The Ngati Wai Trust Board agreed in 2001 to drop its objection to mining in the new area in return for getting 50c for every cubic metre of sand extracted – a total of up to $1 million.

But Mr McDonald, a part-owner of land on the beach, has challenged the board’s right to make that deal without adequately consulting Ngati Wai people, including himself.

He argues that the offshore sand is a finite resource.

Much of it originated from the period when the Waikato River flowed into the Hauraki Gulf up to 20,000 years ago.

The seabed also contains the bones of people who died in fighting between his Ngati Wai ancestors on Little Barrier and the rival Ngati Whatua in the 1600s.

He said he had a legal right to seek a review of the sand-mining permit even though he needed taxpayer-funded legal aid.

“They [Kaipara] are just trying to use their money to get rid of me. I don’t believe it’s right that they should bully a Maori that hasn’t got a lot of money,” he said.

He has gathered 600 signatures from Pakiri residents, including boxer David Tua, who owns land at the beach, against the sand-mining proposal.

Mr McDonald’s lawyer, Olinda Woodroffe, has written to Mr Littlejohn offering to withdraw her application for an injunction if Kaipara agrees not to start taking sand from the new area until the High Court rules on the judicial review. Mr Littlejohn said he was awaiting instructions on this from Kaipara.

Justice Tony Randerson issued a minute to both parties last week asking for affidavits on the substantive case by May 8.

Photos Source

Singapore sand imports threaten Cambodian ecosystem

By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian UK

Singapore, which prides itself on being one of the most environmentally friendly nations in Asia, is expanding its coastline with irresponsibly dredged sand from Cambodia, according to a report from an environmental NGO.

Global Witness says the lucrative sand trade devastates ecosystems, lacks regulatory oversight and enriches traders at the expense of local fishermen.

The report, Shifting Sand: how Singapore’s demand for Cambodian sand threatens ecosystems and undermines good governance, reveals that much of the demand is from Singapore, a small island state with big ambitions to increase its territory. The city state of 4.9 million people has expanded its surface area from 582 sq km in the 1960s, to 710 sq km in 2008, an increase of 22%, and it has ambitious plans to reclaim further land from the sea.

This requires far more sand than the island is able to provide for itself, prompting suppliers and middlemen to dredge and buy overseas.

Cargo manifests and photographs in the report suggest Singapore imported 14.2m tonnes of sand worth $273m (£184m) in 2008 from Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia. Its sourcing has reportedly expanded recently to Burma, the Philippines and Bangladesh.

The lucrative trade has alarmed neighbouring nations, which have seen chunks of their land being shipped off. After local media reported the shrinkage of several islands in Indonesia, the government there banned sales of sand to Singapore in 2008. Malaysia and Vietnam have imposed similar controls.

After the trade moved to Cambodia, the prime minister, Hun Sen, announced last May that his country too would restrict exports of sand.

But Global Witness says coastal dredging operations have increased in the year since. The NGO estimates a single Cambodian province – Koh Kong – has an annual trade with Singapore worth $248m (£168m).

On a single day, the NGO says its investigators have seen nine dredgers inside a single protected area – the Peam Krasop wildlife sanctuary and Koh Kapik Ramsar site.

The dredging operations threaten mangrove swamps, coral reefs and the biggest seagrass bed in the South China Sea, which is home to several rare species including the Irrawaddy dolphin, dugong and seahorses, it said.

Local communities have reported a sharp fall in fish stocks and crab harvests. The Cambodian government has denied any link with dredging operations.

In Cambodia, at least 14 firms have been given dredging licenses. A tonne of sand, which costs $3 (£2) per tonne to extract, can be sold for $26 (£18) per tonne in Singapore. It is unclear how much of the revenues are returned to the people in the form of taxes.

“Cambodia’s natural resource wealth should be lifting its population out of poverty. Instead, international aid has propped up basic services in Cambodia for over 15 years. Meanwhile, money from natural resources disappears into private bank accounts, and nearly 70% of the population subsists on less than $2 a day,” said George Boden, campaigner at Global Witness.

The government of Singapore, which will this summer host the World Cities Summit – focusing on sustainability – denies any wrongdoing. It says the import of sand for reclamation is done on a commercial basis with safeguards for the environment.

“The policing and enforcement of sand extraction licences is ultimately the responsibility of the source country. However, Singapore will continue to play its part to ensure that sand is extracted in a legal and environmentally responsible manner,” noted a statement by the Ministry of National Development. “We have not received any official notice on the ban of sand exports from Cambodia.”

Original Article