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]

See more...
Basic Data
NameSand Mining in Asilah, Morocco
ProvinceTanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima
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 CommoditiesSand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsSeveral types of coastal sand mining were observed in Morocco:

- Bluff top mining: The sand being removed here, in spite of its location well above the local beach and dune, may still be a part of the active coastal sand system. That is, the sand here may still occasionally supply new sand to the beach in processes such as storm recovery.

- Back dune mining: Large reaches of Morocco’s massive coastal dune complex have been entirely removed by sand mining creating a landscape with deep pits and steep slopes hazardous to passersby.

- Beach Mining: Long, flat beach on coastal plain – The beach is flat and wide at low tide and relatively narrow at high tide. The rocky layers that once were buried in sand replace dunes. The dune ecosystem is completely gone. [2]
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date2012
Relevant government actorsAsilah Municipality
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCoastal Care:
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation 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-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesFuture 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 as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

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


[click to view]


[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
[click to view]

[3] - The new gold diggers

Asilah, Morocco, (October 2012
[click to view]

Other Documents

Workers mine sand from an Asilah beach in 2012 (Miriam Gutekunst /
[click to view]

Surface rock has become more exposed as a consequence of sand mining (MEE/Matthew Greene)
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorChristophe Maroun - [email protected]
Last update01/02/2018