Booming construction fuels sand mining, and threatens coastal environment and tourism, writes Denise Hruby in Earth Island Journal, February 4.
As a main ingredient of cement, sand is a vital component in almost any construction, whether that of a skyscraper or a middle-class home, a countryside road or a vast bridge. But the resource is finite, and as construction booms in Myanmar and across Asia, the industry has fuelled the illegal mining of sand — with harsh implications for Myanmar’s environment and burgeoning tourism industry.
As Ms Hruby points out, Myanmar’s Ngapali beach is being mined heavily for sand, with trucks coming regularly to haul it away, and vast craters dotting the coastline.
While the report focuses on Ngapali beach, known for some time to be at risk, other beaches are also being “mined” for sand.
Demand for sand isn’t just growing in Ngapali, but across the globe, according to the report. The UN says sand and gravel are the most heavily mined solid material worldwide — at least 40 billion tons are needed each year for construction.