Push against sand mining continues

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) says it is seeing more success in its efforts to combat illegal sand mining. 

The M.N.R.E.’s annual report for the Financial Year 2018-2019 reports that illegal sand mining remains the subject of regular monthly reports. 

“This active teamwork and partnership collaboration between [the responsible M.N.R.E. division] has effected much help and ease in notifying offenders more efficiently,” the report found. 

The Ministry is also seeking to engage the public in order to promote compliance and following standardised policy and procedures for applying for permits for legal mining and reclamation. 

Monitoring illegal sand mining and reclamation is the prerogative of the M.N.R.E. Advisory’s Committee under the Chairmanship and the leadership of Associate Minister, Taefu Lemi Taefu.  

Last year the M.N.R.E. dedicated itself to raising awareness and cautioning the public about the impact of sand mining during the National Land Week.

At the time Va'aelua Grace Laulala from the Ministry identified Solosolo, Mulivai Safata, Fagali'i, Lotofaga Safata, Sa'anapu, Sataoa, Saleapaga and Lalomanu as the villages most heavily involved with sand mining, most of which is alleged to be illegal. 

"But now that the chiefs and committees of the villages have been consulted, and showed that these are needed as part of the village efforts to control these practices of mining sand, without looking at the impacts on the environment," she said.

She said the Ministry’s aim is not to ban sand mining but to control it and inform the people of the regulations they need to follow.

"We want to inform them that there are processes that go into these things, under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment that implement these requests and requirements for a permit if they want to extract sand," said Va'aelua.

Revenue from sand mining in 2018-2019 increased by $10,495.

“This is largely due to the relative increase in demand for sand from commercial miners mainly for the government infrastructural works such as road widening, airport development, Matautu Wharf upgrade, Apia Waterfront and other urgent Government projects,” the report said. 

“Reclaiming works showed a profit of $1,500.00 from collected revenue in this current [Financial Year].”

The report notes positive reflections in the significant increase in revenue from both sand mining and reclamation activities in the current financial year compared to the previous, something credited to enforcement activity. 

Most reclaiming work is for protecting lands from erosion and land extension for residential purposes.   

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