The Mauritanian coastline is home to rich and abundant natural resources, both for fishing and mining, making this area at the heart of the country’s development issues. Recently, black sand (or ilmenite) mining has aroused new interests in this ecosystem, which is already subject to many pressures. Ilmenite mining is degrading the coastal dune belt, which is currently protecting the city of Nouakchott from marine incursions and erosion. A strategic environmental and social evaluation (SESA) of black sand mining was therefore commissioned by the Mauritanian Ministry of the Environment in partnership with the WACA programme. The objective of this study is to identify, describe and evaluate the environmental and socio-economic issues likely to provide the elements to frame and regulate black sand mining on the Mauritanian coast, in compliance with the principles of sustainable development.

Vertigo Lab is in charge of the socio-economic section of the study in order to evaluate the impacts of black sand mining on the Mauritanian coast. Based on the study of one pilot site, the evaluation takes the form of a cost-benefit analysis and aims to estimate: the wealth captured by the country, the number of jobs created, the impacts on other sectors of activity, the tax revenues collected, as well as the economic potential of black sand derivatives.


The study made recommendations concerning the impacts of black sand mining for sites already identified by the Mauritanian Ministry of Environment. These recommendations were based on environmental and socio-economic vulnerability criteria. For the sites that were suitable for black sand mining, our team made recommendations to maximise the socio-economic benefits provided by this activity on Mauritanian territory: i) relocation of certain economic flows within Mauritanian territory, ii) reinvesting the rent generated by mining to compensate for the degradation of natural capital and iii) redirecting tax revenues to finance development projects.


Amélie Colle, Manager et Consultante –
Jean-Christophe Martin, Consultant –


GSE – Green Sahel Expertise

Client: Ministry of Environment of Mauritania & WACA Program

Date: 2020