The Impact of Sand Mining on the Fluvial Environment: Case Study of Nzhelele River in Limpopo Province, South Africa

  • F. SenganiEmail author
  • T. Zvarivadza
Conference paper


There is an increase in demand for sand in many parts of the world due to rapid economic development. This has led to extensive extraction of sand from rivers and other parts of the land; as a result, sand mining has considerable negative impacts on the fluvial environment and surrounding villagers. This study was carried out in order to identify and assess the environmental impacts of sand mining along Nzhelele River in Nzhelele villages. Geological principles, geotechnical principles, geographical information system (GIS) and remote sensing were used to assess the environmental impacts of sand mining along Nzhelele River Valley. To achieve the objectives of the study, data were collected through field observations, field measurements, soil and water sampling, laboratory analysis (water analysis and sieve analysis), questionnaire survey, the application of GIS methods [multi-temporal images (Landsat ETM + Images) and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI)] were used. The results of the study have indicated that extensive extraction of sand has resulted into riverbank erosion, depletion in water quality, destruction of the riparian zone, reduction in farms and grazing land and air pollution were the negative impacts associated with sand mining along Nzhelele River. These results were also confirmed by remote sensing and GIS analysis. This research project was sponsored by Thulamela Municipality.


Environmental impacts Sand mining Remote sensing and GIS NDVI Normalized difference vegetation index Fluvial environment 


  1. Brandl, G.: The Geology of the Alldays Area. Explanation: Sheet 2228 (Alldays). Council for Geoscience. 71pp (2002)Google Scholar
  2. Bruvold, W.H., Ongerth, H.J.: Taste Quality of Mineralized Water. J. Am. Water Works Asso. 61, 120 (1969)Google Scholar
  3. Bumby, A.J.: The geology of the Blouberg Formation, Waterberg and Soutpansberg Groups in the area of Blouberg Mountain. A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University of Pretoria for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The University of Pretoria (2000)Google Scholar
  4. Carnie, T. Sand mining threatens South Africa coast. [Online] available from>business>news>sand. Accessed 21 Nov 2015 (2015)
  5. Chevallier, R. Illegal sand mining in South Africa. SAIIA Policy Briefing. 116 P. 2 (2014)Google Scholar
  6. Chevallier, R. Illegal sand mining in South Africa. [Online] available from>news>new-research. Accessed 9 Nov 2015 (2015)
  7. Dallas, H.F., Day, J.A.: The Effects of Water Quality Variables on the Riverine Ecosystem. A Review. Freshwater Research Unit, Pretoria (1993)Google Scholar
  8. Duffy, L.K., Phyllis, K.W.S.: Effects of total dissolved solids on aquatic organisms: a review of literature and recommendation for salmonid species. Am. J. Environ. Sci. 3(1), 1 (2007)Google Scholar
  9. Garton, E.O. Simple random sampling. In: Fish and Wildlife Population Ecology, 543 (2015)Google Scholar
  10. Gwimbi, P., Dirwai, C.: Research Methods in Geography and Environmental Studies. Zimbabwe Open University, Harare (2003)Google Scholar
  11. Haupt, C.J., Sami, K.: Letaba catchment reserve determination study. Groundw. Scoping Rep. 2, 3–15 (2006)Google Scholar
  12. Madise, T. A case study of environmental impacts of sand mining and gravel extraction for urban development. A thesis submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science. University of South Africa, Gaborone (2013)Google Scholar
  13. South Africa. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, South African Water Quality Standards Guidelines. vol. 7, Aquatic Ecosystem (1996)Google Scholar
  14. South Africa. Department of Water Affairs, Luvuvhu/Letaba Water Management Area. Internal Strategic Perspective. Goba Moshloli Keeve Steyn (Pty) Ltd. (2004)Google Scholar
  15. World Health Organization, Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (2nd ed.). Health Criteria and Other Supporting Information. vol. 2, World health organization, Geneva (1996)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Mining EngineeringThe University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations