Cape Verde: Government wants to study sand extraction between the north of Boa Vista and Mauritania

2 April 2009

Praia, Cape Verde, 2 April – The Cape Verdean government wants to carry out a viability study for prospection of sand in the area between the North of Boa Vista island and Mauritania, said the Minister for Environment, Rural Development and Marine Resources.

Quoted by Cape Verdean news agency Inforpress, José Maria Veiga said that the principal intention was to put an end to illegal extraction of this inert material and, on the other hand, to be able to supply the Cape Verdean market without further incident.

Veiga also said that “the Government now has some evidence showing that there are sand banks between the North of Boa Vista island and Mauritania which could be exploited for a long time for internal consumption.”

The minister also said, however, that to exploit the sand in this area, a viability study would be necessary in order to determine to what extent it would be possible to make a balanced use of it “without compromising the ecosystem and marine resources.”

The government’s intention is part of a package of alternatives which José Maria Neves’ administration is proposing to balance the current demand for sand in the construction industry and, at the same time, protect Cape Verde’s environment.

The “frantic” demand for inert material in the construction industry has given rise to a wave of spontaneous exploration of sand and gravel on beaches, riverbeds and riverbanks.

However, the fact that this is a lucrative business has meant that the number of sand collectors has continued to grow, something that has been harmful to the ecological balance in the archipelago, as the rate of sand extraction has overtaken the natural capacity to replace it, particularly on the island of Santiago.

Because of this, many beaches are being destroyed and lots of agricultural land is being contaminated by sea water which has crept in because the natural barrier which protects the land from the sea is being eroded by sand extraction. (macauhub)