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Volume :31 Issue : 117 2005      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Environmental Impacts of Marine Sand Mining in the Kingdom of Bahrain

Auther : Asma A. Ababussain, Anwar S. Abdo, Nader A. Mossa, Ali J. Al-Hessabi

     Because of the limitations of land area and mineral resources of the kingdom of Bahrain, the construction sector faced the problem of availability of adequate sources of sand for the rabid urbanization that has been accelerated by the economic development of the kingdom during the last three decades.  This problem has been partly solved by dredging of marine sand from Bahrains shallow regional waters, not only to satisfy the increasing demand of the building and construction sectors, but also to provide on a larger scale the requirements of reclamation and filling operations in the shallow coastal areas, building of new ports and causeways.  The average annual extracted amount of sand was about 2.5 million tones .
     A number of adverse environmental problems resulted from mining of marine sands on the short and long term basis.  This research was able to monitor and determine the problems associated with dredging and mining operations of marine sands in general and particularly that are affecting the environmentally sensitive locations such as Tubli bay.  A globally tested and used driving force, pressure, state, impact, and response (DPSIR) module was applied to assess the relationship between the indicators of the driving force (D), pressure (p), state of the environment (s), impacts (i) and response (r).
     Analysis of the data and environmental indicators show that mining of marine sand for economic development in Bahrain leads to degradation of the fragile marine ecosystems during dredging, transportation and washing operations, especially the environmentally sensitive ecosystems as well as its biodiversity and habitats.  This is because of discharge of mud (fine sand, silt and clay) that constituted about 7% of the total dredged marine sand to the water column of the marine environment, and Tubli bay in particular where five main sand washing factories are located at its southern coast.
     Finally, the paper proposed a number of recommendations in a policy matrix form that aim to adapt environmental policies conductive to minimize the negative effects of marine sand mining in Bahrain, as well as alternatives that have less impacts on the marine ecosystems.  Also to introduce cleaner production techniques and propose new locations for the factories outside Tubli bay.  These locations are to be selected using techniques. the other alternative is to encourage imports of construction sand from neighboring countries.
     The study also emphasized the significance of undertaking detailed environmental impact assessment (ELA) of mining projects, before and during extraction, especially operations that are planned in environmentally sensitive areas such as shallow coastal ecosystem.  It also highlights the significance of monitoring mining operations, changing policies adopted where degradation of ecosystems occurred, to conserve and exploit on sustainable basis.

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