Simply transporting ore to the sea, the World’s Longest Conveyor Belt System is not as grand as the Great Wall of China, but it can be seen just as easily from space.
A winding system of interlinked belts, the extra-long conveyance system transports phosphate ore from a mining operation in Bou Craa in Western Sahara to the harbor town of Marsa near El Aaiún where it can be shipped worldwide. All told, the phosphate’s leisurely journey covers over 61 miles of distance from one end of the belt system to another. As the rocky ore makes its way across the landscape the strong desert winds blow the lighter particles of the white ore off the belt, creating a bold ivory streak along the length of the conveyance system. With this extra indicator differentiating the belt’s track from the landscape the miles of moving phosphor can even be seen from space.
The Atlas Obscura Podcast is a short, daily celebration of all the world’s strange and wondrous places. Check out this episode about the Bou Craa conveyer belt.
Know Before You Go
Bou Craa is the core of the so-called "useful triangle," which has been the main focus of Moroccan expansionist aspirations. Since the late 1970s, Morocco has successively occupied increasing portions of Western Sahara and currently controls approximately 75-80% of the territory, including the entire coastline.