25 Sep 2012

Scientists say lagoon dredging safer than beach mining

3:19 pm on 25 September 2012

Scientists from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community say replacing beach aggregate mining in Kiribati with lagoon dredging is a safer and more sustainable alternative.

The Kiribati government, through a European Union funded project run by the SPC's Applied Geoscience and Technology Division or SOPAC, is hoping to introduce lagoon dredging by early next year.

The project manager, Nicholas Harding, says mining the beach aggregate, which is used in the building industry, has led to problems, such as shoreline erosion, salt water incursion, and contamination of drinking water.

He says research shows aggregate deposits in the South Tarawa lagoon can be safely exploited using specialist equipment.

"Extensive studies that have been carried out show that lagoon dredging can provide Tarawa with materials for at least the next 50 years at its current rate of usage. The idea is that there'll be an extensive environmental managment plan put into place to ensure that the impacts are kept to a minimum."

SOPAC's Nicholas Harding, who says lagoon dredging will begin early next year.