Stop planned sand mining that threatens Mannar Island's fragile eco-system

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Australian mining company, Titanium Sands Ltd, plans to carry out extensive ilmenite sand mining on fragile Mannar Island in Northern Sri Lanka. The immediate result will be substantial salt water intrusion, contaminated drinking water and disruption to the lives of tens of thousands of residents who depend on fishing and other primary industries for their livelihoods.

Mannar Island is a low-lying coastal area prone to natural hazards such as flash floods, cyclones and sea level rise. In spite of NO environmental approvals and mining licenses being issued, TSL is aggressively seeking investors for their sand mining operation, claiming the operation is a simple, low impact mining process.

However the social, ecological and economic consequences are many – destruction to traditional fishing grounds and livelihoods, increased salinity of wells and ground water, destruction of old-growth palmyrah forests, habitat damage of Mannar’s significant migratory bird population, devastation to the tourist industry and the adverse bearing on historical sites.

Exploration licences for Mannar Island were issued by the Geological Survey & Mines Bureau to six local companies, wholly-owned subsidiaries of TSL. Already almost 4,000 exploratory augur holes have been dug, some to a depth of 12 metres, well below the legal water table, without the permission of private land owners.

On 12 November, 2020, Senator Rice raised the issue in the Australian Parliament saying, "Projects like this bring Australian businesses into disrepute, and pressure must be brought to bear on Titanium Sands to not proceed with this destructive project.”

If we don't stop the mining plans of Titanium Sands Ltd, this will spell the end of Mannar Island, 63% of which is already below sea level. The impact of this 50+ year project on this pristine environment will be irreversible.

On behalf of Mannar's residents and community groups, we urge the Government of Sri Lanka and you as members of the international community to help us protect this fragile and pristine environment for current and future generations.

Prepared by Protect Mannar’s Environment, a coalition of concerned citizens of Mannar, supported by Sri Lankan and global citizens and organisations.