Benin ends mining of its coastal sand

Benin, in west Africa, has begun a campaign to stop sand mining, the United Nations-affiliated IRIN news service reports. The practice is eroding an Atlantic coast already shrinking from rising sea levels linked to global warming.

Beginning in January 2009, Benin’s government will open alternative sand-mining sites along inland rivers and lakes, according to the humanitarian news service. Test sites have been dug in 30 places, including Cotonou – a coastal port city and Benin’s economic capital — and the nearby inland cities of Abomey Calavi, So-Ava, Ouidah and Seme Kpodji.

Sand mining involves the removal of sand for commercial purposes – including making concrete for construction projects — and is linked to erosion and subsequent damage to wildlife habitats. Some international environmental groups, including Greenpeace, have denounced mining of river sand, saying the chemicals used to separate the sand from minerals can pollute the water.

Benin’s move to non-coastal sand mining will be funded in part by US$45 billion pledged by Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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