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50km of Madang beaches planned for sand mining

| My Land, My Country

LAE - As a Singaporean company with Chinese interests works to get approval to mine sand along the north coast of Madang, many Papua New Guineans are unaware of the impacts of this multibillion dollar global industry.

Sand mining remains largely under the radar in Papua New Guinea.

The lack of understanding of the environmental and social impacts of sand mining puts communities at risk of bad decisions that could cause widespread destruction.

Discussions are now underway between the Papua New Guinea government and the Singaporean registered company, Niugini Sands Limited.

I have not been able to speak to the Mineral Resources Authority about the details of the proposal and have sent a request including a list of questions for its input. I hope it may respond this week.

I do know that there were a series of Mining Warden hearings along Madang’s north coast within the Sumgilbar local level government area.

A group of landowners protested.  There were others who supported the sand mining proposal. The sand is used in construction.

While it is the right of landowners to decide what they want to do with their land, there are several things they should consider.

I write this with the Ramu nickel mine in mind. Ultimately, it is the papagraun (landowners) who decide who destroys their land.

The government supports the foreign company and pretends to follow ‘procedure’. No need to get sensitive, we know that happens every time. Things have not changed.

The problem with sand mining is that there appears to be an absence of legislation or regulations governing it in PNG. Somebody can correct me, if I’m wrong.

At this stage, I don’t see the government agency tasked with managing the mining industry having full oversight of this project. (This is an opinion; it may be contestable.)

In the absence of legislation who enforces the law? And what laws do they enforce?

This situation opens up the proposed Madang project to widespread abuse.

The company wants to take control of a 50 kilometer stretch of beaches. It will most probably force villages to move inland.

There is no limit to how much sand it will take. How much should it take? Do we know?

What is the recommended limit? Or will the company stop only when the beach front is totally destroyed? Is there a buffer zone of some sort? How is that determined?

Who makes the rules?

The absence of clear guidelines simply paves the way for anyone to steal whole beaches with impunity. It will give rise to violence. 

Sensible landowners frustrated with not having access to traditional fishing and hunting grounds will protest.

We have not seen the worst of it and we should not allow it to happen.

If we allow sand mining, we will make way for organised crime and thieves to profit.

They will steal because our people simply do not have the ability to stop them from raping the land.


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Robert Wilson

Yet another nail in PNG's coffin!
It makes me weep to think of those beautiful along the North Coast road beaches being destroyed and to those villages that sit beside these areas of paradise be warned because your life will change and not for the better. Once those beaches have been destroyed they will not come back!
Didn't think the destruction of PNG could get any worse! I was wrong!

Gus Lee

Scott - I watched an Al Jazeera documentary on sand mining, particularly for buildings, a year or so ago.

I thought, 'When are they going to PNG to mine this? I hope not.'

Your comment, “The lack of understanding of the environmental and social impacts of sand mining puts communities at risk of bad decisions that could cause widespread destruction…,” makes this critical.

Sand Wars: Summary

“By the end of the 21st century, due to beach theft, beaches will be a thing of the past. That is the alarming forecast of a growing number of scientists and environmental NGOs.

"Sand has become a vital commodity for our modern economies: we use it in our toothpaste, detergents, and cosmetics, and computers and mobile phones couldn’t exist without it.

"Our houses, skyscrapers, bridges and airports are all basically made with sand: it has become the most widely consumed natural resource on the planet after fresh water.

"The worldwide construction boom fuelled by emerging economies and increasing urbanization has led to intensive sand extraction on land and in the oceans, with damaging environmental impacts.

"Sand Wars takes us around the world as it tracks the contractors, sand smugglers and unscrupulous property developers involved in this new gold rush, and meets the environmentalists and local populations struggling to reverse the threat to the future of this resource that we all take for granted.”

Sand Wars is a documentary by director Denis Delestrac and produced by Rappi Productions, La Compagnie des Taxi-Brousse, InfomAction, Arte France, with the support of The Santa Aguila Foundation.

The film premiered at the Cinéma Publicis on the Champs-Elysées in 2013 and was first broadcast in May in France and Germany (Arte), where it became the highest rated documentary for 2013.

A Gold Panda Award winner, Sand Wars is distributed worldwide by PBS International.

Among many other outreach victories, the film inspired the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to publish a Global Environmental Alert in March 2014 titled "Sand, rarer than one thinks".

Sand Wars | Documentary | Al Jazeera › program › 2017/12/13 › sand-wars

Dec 13, 2017 — India's construction boom feeds an illegal sand mining industry where gangs stop at nothing in their quest for profits. 24:30. 6 Jul 2017.

Sand Wars

From Mumbai to Tangier, Dubai to the Maldives, this investigation bares an emergency: the world’s sand is disappearing.

Editor’s Note: This film will be removed on October 18, 2019.

Sand is one of the most-consumed natural resources on the planet. The United Nations estimates that mining of sand and gravel may exceed 40 billion tonnes a year.

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