Of the 700-800 million cubic meters of water lost from the Dead Sea each year, Israel estimates 250-350 million cubic meters is due to mining. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
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The Dead Sea is shrinking at the rate of about a meter a year, leaving behind deserted beaches and sinkholes in a slow-motion environmental disaster.But mineral extraction makes the crisis worse – of the 700-800 million cubic meters of water lost each year, 250-350 million cubic meters is due to mining, Israel estimates.Up to now, the Israeli government has rarely intervened in the operations of the biggest extractor: the Dead Sea Works, formerly state-owned and now operated under a 70-year concession by Israel Chemicals.Israel wants to retender the Dead Sea mining concession as much as eight years ahead of schedule, in 2022 .The company, controlled by billionaire Idan Ofer's Israel Corp., has not made its position clear.When the company was privatized in the 1990s, the government kept a "golden share" that gave it some oversight, in addition to the obligation under the terms of the concession that the company seek its approval for any new investment.
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