Illegal beach and dune sand mining, Morocco, North Africa. Photo source: © SAF – Coastal Care
“Sand is the second most consumed natural resource, after water. The construction-building industry is by far the largest consumer of this finite resource. The traditional building of one average-sized house requires 200 tons of sand; a hospital requires 3,000 tons of sand; each kilometer of highway built requires 30,000 tons of sand… A nuclear plant, a staggering 12 million tons of sand…” Captions by “Sand Wars” Award-Winning Filmmaker: © Denis Delestrac (©-2013).
There is no shortage of sand in the world’s deserts, but it’s of little value in construction and industrial work. The round, wind-eroded grains do not bind well to produce cement. Sea sand and gravel deposits from riverbeds do much better. Sand mining on beaches and in riverbeds is a source of income for unemployed Africans, but it’s often an unregulated — or under-regulated — business.
Environmental impact is a growing concern…
In March 2014 The United Nations released its first Report about sand mining: “Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks.”
“Sand Wars” film documentary by Denis Delestrac – first broadcasted on the european Arte Channel, May 28th, 2013 in its french version: “Le Sable: enquête sur une disparition”, where it became the highest rated documentary for 2013 – expressly inspired the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to publish this 2014-Global Environmental Alert.
The Deadly Occupation Attracting Kenya’s Youth; IPS News (08-06-2014)
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…
Jobless Youths Revert to Beach Sand Mining, John Obey Beach, Sierra Leone; Voice Of Sierra Leone (06-26-2013)
There´s a construction boom in Sierra Leone. For people desperate to earn a living, this all translates into break-neck, environmentally disastrous, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operations to carry hundreds of tonnes of sand from the beaches and sell it to builders as construction material…
The Women Sand Thieves, Cape Verde; A Video (08-05-2010),
-Translation from french original by Claire Le Guern / Coastal Care –
“Every day, hundreds of women scrape, shovel, dig, sift and hoard beach sand by the tons…”
The Sand Thieves: World’s Beaches Become Victims of Construction Boom. It’s not Just Cape Verde; Spiegel International (10-02-2014)
Sand is becoming so scarce that stealing it has become an attractive business model. With residential towers rising ever higher and development continuing apace in Asia and Africa, demand for the finite resource is insatiable…
The environmental loss of illegal sand mining in South Africa, ENCA (01-07-2016)
Research shows that KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape are home to more than 200 illegal sand mining operations. Umvoti River sand is as good as gold in the construction industry. Its stellar components have placed it among the best sand in South Africa for building purposes. But this comes at a great environmental loss…
“The Shore Break,” A Movie From Riley Grunenwald; Variety (05-02-2016)
A gorgeous stretch of the Wild Coast is the object of a standoff between corrupt pro-mining forces interested in mining the local beach sand for titanium, and a South African coastal community. The drama is structured around two diametrically opposed protagonists. A film review by Variety…
One Flew Over a Beach Sand Mining Pit, Senegal; (07-17-2013)
One flew over a coastline, North of Dakar, used as and ad hoc beach sand mining pit.
A synopsis from the video “Home,” November 1st 2007. Archived images from: l’Institut National de L’audiovisual…
Beach Sand Mining Defaced Algeria’s Eastern Coastal Region; la Nouvelle République (04-25-2014)
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…
Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks: A UNEP report (GEA-March 2014)
Despite the colossal quantities of sand and gravel being used, our increasing dependence on them and the significant impact that their extraction has on the environment, this issue has been mostly ignored by policy makers and remains largely unknown by the general public.
In March 2014 The United Nations released its first Report about sand mining. “Sand Wars” film documentary by Denis Delestrac – first broadcasted on the european Arte Channel, May 28th, 2013, where it became the highest rated documentary for 2013 – expressly inspired the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to publish this 2014-Global Environmental Alert.
The Conservation Crisis No One Is Talking About, TakePart (09-21-2016)
Beaches around the world are disappearing. No, the cause isn’t sea-level rise, at least not this time. It’s a little-known but enormous industry called sand mining, which every year sucks up billions of tons of sand from beaches, ocean floors, and rivers to make everything from concrete to microchips to toothpaste…
Sand Wars, An Investigation Documentary, By Award-Winning Filmmaker Denis Delestrac (©-2013)
Is sand an infinite resource? Can the existing supply satisfy a gigantic demand fueled by construction booms? What are the consequences of intensive beach sand mining for the environment and the neighboring populations…? This investigative documentary takes us around the globe to unveil a new gold rush and a disturbing fact: the “Sand Wars” have begun…
Learn more about beach sand mining in Africa: Sand Mining Database, By Coastal Care
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Illegal beach sand mining, near Tangier, Morocco. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care