TONGAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES OFFSHORE SAND DREDGING

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NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (May 31, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---The Tongan government has given the green light to offshore sand dredging, but the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources says additional funding is required before the new project can proceed.

Ministry Secretary Dr. Savae Latu says the proposed site for the dredging is an area northwest of Fafaa Island, near the capital of Nuku'alofa.

The ministry says a suction dredge will carry out the mining, avoiding any harmful operations that might disturb the marine ecology of the area.

The search for alternative sources of sand for construction and other purposes resulted from increased fear of sand depletion and land erosion near traditional land-based sand pit and beach mining areas.

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