Mayrouba Sand Quarries, Lebanon

The town of Mayrouba has been plagued with illegal sand and gravel quarries for more than a decade.


13 years since the municipality’s decision to stop the illegal quarrying activities, the town of Mayrouba, in Lebanon’s mountainous Keserwan district, is still witnessing and struggling with the issue of rock and sand extraction. In fact, 12% of the town’s surface is now dominated by quarries despite the Ministry of the Interior’s warnings issued in 2015. [1] Out of the town’s 70 natural water springs, only 10 remain with the other 60 buried by sedimentation. In addition to the effects on water resources, quarrying has also affected the quality of the air with dust and particulate matter and led to massive deforestation, causing landslides. [2] The municipality is demanding that the used quarries be rehabilitated and greened by the contractors as well as for the operational ones to follow basic environmental regulation. In fact, owners of these quarries are desperately trying to silence those opposing them. In an interview on a local television channel, one opponent described how he was violently beaten by thugs due to his opposition to the projects. [2] Claims have been made that the permits under which these quarries operate are fake and under the guise of rubble transportation, hence not allowing for mining and quarrying activities to take place. In addition, the heavy trucks carrying tons of sand are also damaging roads and access to people’s homes. In April 2012, residents of Mayrouba blocked the road taken by the trucks to demand the regularization of the quarries, the rehabilitation of old quarries, the compensation for damages, and to follow the environmental laws that regulate such activities.[1][2] The quarries were never fully stopped, however. Their activities were often suspended only for them to resume their work a few weeks later. The EJO “Save Mayrouba” has been on the frontlines of the resistance against the quarries. More recently, in February 2018, the movement stated that they were working with the Mayor of Meyrouba and relevant actors in the Keserwan district towards a binding solution to the problem. With the main purpose being to rehabilitate the area. In addition, they are demanding for the municipality to have a bigger role in the decision making towards the quarries, making the acceptance of such projects in their hands. Strict conditions with environmental standards, financial support and the signing of a clear and explicit commitment to comply with all conditions. [3]

Basic Data
NameMayrouba Sand Quarries, Lebanon
ProvinceKeserwan District
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific CommoditiesSand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsSince these quarries are illegal and unregulated, very little is known about the quantities being extracted and the specific details about the operations.
Project Area (in hectares)100
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date01/09/2005
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Interior and Municipalities

Ministry of the Environment

Municipality of Mayrouba
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSave Mayrouba:
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationLand occupation
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
OtherRespiratory illnesses
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Violent targeting of activists
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesActivists want the old quarries to be greened and rehabilitated. In addition they want the quarries to be regulated under strict environmental standards.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.A lot of corruption is behind this scandal with the culprits often hiding behind powerful political figures. Apart from temporarily stopping the mining activities from time to time, not much is being done to prevent this catastrophe.
Sources and Materials

[1] - REPORT: Mayrouba’s struggle with quarries: Will it ever end? - LBCI - 2016
[click to view]

Media Links

[3] - Save Mayrouba Campaign
[click to view]

[2] - Sand Quarries in Mayrouba - LBCI - 2012
[click to view]

Other Documents

No to Mayrouba quarries - from the Save Mayrouba Facebook Page
[click to view]

Residents of Mayrouba blocking the road to sand trucks Screenshot from the LBCI report about sand mining in Mayrouba
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorChristophe Maroun - [email protected]
Last update20/03/2018