Mannar Marine National Park Is At Risk – Claims Environmentalists


Titanium Sands Ltd, a Perth based Australian mining company, plans to carry out extensive limonite sand mining on fragile Mannar Island in Gulf Mannar region. The company is looking to mine an area of the island that is 2 km wide and about 8 km long.

Companies that Titanium Sands acquired had started preliminary assessment with small-scale drilling on the island in 2015. Throughout the totality of their study, which included a scoping study completed this year, the company drilled more than 4.000 exploratory holes without the permission of the private land’s owners.  The deepest holes going down for 12 meters. The average of holes was between 1 and three meters, an activist said. “This mining project will create a great damage to all the area of Mannar island, Mannar Marine national park and its rich biodiversity,” said Dr. Raveendra Kariaywasam Environmentalist/ Executive Director Center for environment and Nature Studies, Sri Lanka.

The Mannar Island is 26km long by 8km wide and has rich deposits of the mineral limonite in its sand. This is the main source of titanium dioxide, titanium (IV) oxide or titanium, chemical formula. Dr. Kariyawsam yesterday said that Titanium dioxide has a wide range of applications, including paint, sunscreen, and food coloring. It has been estimated that in 2018 titanium dioxide is used in two-thirds of all pigments. This is a big profit business for multinational companies and that is the reason why Australian titanium Sands Companies are much focused on Mannar titanium mining project.

“This mining project will create a great damage to ground water table in the land area of the Mannar Island. There’s the risk to contaminate the drinking water with the salt water during the mining works, creating disruption for the lives of tens of thousands residents who depend on fishing and other primary industries for their livelihoods,| Dr. Kariyawasam told The Island.Exploration licences for Mannar Island were issued by the Geological Survey & Mines Bureau to six local companies. The Sri Lankan Geological Surveys and Mines Bureau (GSMB) is the government body responsible for issuing mining and exploration licences in Sri Lanka. They are not able to issue the license without proper environment impact assessment according to National Environment act in Sri Lanka .In this case, National environment act has been violated by the companies, Dr. Kariyaswasam alleged.

Both, Sri lankan and Indian Government are responsible to look after and protect this Biosphere Reserve according to the international environment law. As world citizen, every human being are responsible to protect Biosphere reserve and no one can make damage on that.