SPC Geoscience Division

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Newsflash

Quarrying for sand gravel in Kiribati’s most populated atoll island South Tarawa will soon be replaced by a safer and a more sustainable alternative – lagoon dredging.

The Kiribati Government, through its European Union-funded Environmentally Safe Aggregates for Tarawa (ESAT) project, implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s SOPAC Division, hopes to phase out beach aggregate mining on South Tarawa. The mining has caused severe coastal erosion problems on the already vulnerable atoll island.

Beach aggregate is a combination of sand, gravel, pebbles and stones primarily used in making concrete, road maintenance, the building industry and most general construction.

Through its Oceans and Islands Programme, SOPAC has undertaken technical work on coastal vulnerability on South Tarawa for many years. During this time, a continuing stress highlighted since the 1980s has been the damaging impact of beach mining on shoreline systems, caused by intense and unsustainable extraction of aggregates.

The ESAT project, which was established to explore alternative sources of beach aggregates, has identified Tarawa’s lagoon.