After years of relentless sand mining along Cambodian coasts to satiate Singapore’s thirst for land reclamation, Cambodia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy has officially put an end to the travesty.
Singapore will have to look for other sources to expand its land, now that Cambodia has banned all sand exports — it’s a decision made on environmental grounds, Reuters reports.
This comes after years of pressure by environmental groups, who assert that the constant digging and dreading of sand has had a serious impact on coastal ecosystems and the surrounding land. Parts of mangrove forests have been damaged, while seven beaches in Cambodia have already disappeared because of the mining. Homes and areas of land situated near mining sites have already started collapsing into rivers.
Fishermen have also noted that dredging machines and sand barges dump their waste directly into the river, covering their nets with oil stains, as well as decimating populations of crabs and fish.
Cambodia has been the Republic’s biggest supplier of sand since Malaysia and Indonesia banned sand exports due to environmental protection. UN trade data released in 2016 showed that Singapore has imported over 72 million tonnes of sand from the country since 2007.
Though a temporary ban on the export of sand was put in place in November last year, environmental groups complained that sand was still being dredged and exported illegally. The permanent ban was implemented yesterday, but these groups remain sceptical about it being properly enforced.