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River Sand Extraction in Myanmar

Extracting sand on Ayeyarwady River, August 2017. Photo: B Kadoe
Extracting sand on Ayeyarwady River, August 2017. Photo: B Kadoe

Bethia Kadoe, a Myanmar student who is studying for a Masters’ in Environmental Science and Policy, International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE), at Clark University, Worcester MA, USA, was attached for a month in 2017, as an intern with MCRB, and worked in collaboration with WWF to study river sand mining in the Ayeyarwady/Yangon area.

This is her paper from her research.

Although mining of sand and aggregates was not  covered directly in MCRB’s Sector Wide Impact Assessment of Mining, MCRB has engaged stakeholders on various cases of sand mining related to wider social and environmental impacts including beach sand extraction in Ngapali and Ngwesaung, and marine sand extraction in Tanintharyi.

In May 2018 WWF published a study of The Ayeyarwady River and the Economy of Myanmar:  Volume 1 Risks  and opportunities from the perspective of the people living and working on the river,  in English and Burmese. This noted that:

Approximately 10 million tonnes of gravel and sand a year are reportedly extracted from Ayeyarwady River sites for construction. This is believed to be a gross underestimate of the total sand extraction from the Ayeyarwady River (estimated to be 20 million tonnes, or approximately 10% of the total estimated sediment budget of 220 million tonnes). Since the majority of construction and development is taking place in the basin, it is safe to assume the majority of the buildings, roads and bridges being built are using sand from the river. Given the volumes of materials recorded during the survey, the level of development in Myanmar, and the large volumes of sand and gravel required for construction, road building and dam building, it is highly likely that continued risks such as bank erosion and the increasing vulnerability of a sinking delta will continue.

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