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Sand Mining in Asilah, Morocco

The continuous and extensive Sand mining on the coast of Asilah, Morocco poses real danger on both the town's cultural heritage and its economy.


During the last decade, Asilah's beaches have been destroyed. Their natural beauty has been devastated due to years of sand mining, as large parts of the beachfront have been almost stripped bare of their sand. Their condition threatens severe long-term environmental damage as well as undermining tourism, the main driving force behind this city's economy. Sand mining reached its  peak between 2012 and 2014, as Asilah saw a steep increase in the construction of apartments, homes, hotels and resort projects with most of the investment coming from real estate developers based in Fez and Tangier rather than the city itself. [1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sand Mining in Asilah, Morocco
State or province:Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima
Location of conflict:Asilah
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Several types of coastal sand mining were observed in Morocco:

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Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:2012
Relevant government actors:Asilah Municipality
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Coastal Care:
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Future mining of the modern coastal sand body should be avoided. There are numerous alternative sources of sand available, most of which will be at least slightly more expensive than the presently used coastal sand.
If mining continues on some limited basis, reclamation (reshaping) of the impacted landscapes must be required. In some areas reclamation of existing, abandoned mining sites should be considered.
Future regulations and decisions concerning sand mining in Morocco should consider the need to provide future generations of Moroccans with high quality, healthy beaches. The long term economic potential of healthy, beautiful beaches is huge and is worthy of extensive efforts to preserve them. [2]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:It is the economic and cultural toll of sand mining that has finally persuaded the city to address the issue. This summer, sand was imported to a handful of Asilah’s beaches in an attempt to make them more accommodating and presentable for the tourist season. The measure, however, is only a temporary fix to a larger problem.
But concerned residents express little confidence in the government’s willingness to take the long-term health of the environment into account, despite Morocco’s recent commitments to sustainable development policies
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[7] - Morocco's Penal Code, with Article 517 concerning sand theft
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] - About Coastal Care
[click to view]

[5] - Sand Mining World Map by Coastal Care
[click to view]

[6] - Sand Mining Database by Coastal Care
[click to view]

[1] - Why are beaches disappearing in Morocco? - MEE - September 2016
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[3] - The new gold diggers

Asilah, Morocco, (October 2012
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Meta information
Contributor:Christophe Maroun - [email protected]
Last update01/02/2018
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