THE only gold ornament Datuk Seri Andrew Kam wears is a gold wedding ring.
Somehow, this does not reflect the passion of Peninsular Gold Ltd's (PGL) chairman for the glittering metal.
And gold mining is not alien to Kam – his maternal family was involved in the industry in Raub when he was young.
When the gold price climbed higher, it dawned upon him to rehabilitate the gold mines that had been abandoned for 30 years or so in Raub.
Although it is true that gold deposits have been depleted in Raub, Kam believes it is now economically viable for gold mining there due to the high gold price.
But extracting gold from the old mines in Bukit Koman is just part of the bigger plan he has in mind for Raub.
“I want to bring back the glory days when Raub was bustling with activities,” he told StarBiz.
His plan is to build a “gold park” in Raub to attract tourists.
Kam intends to open PGL's gold processing plant, which is currently under construction, to the public.
“Tourists will like to see how gold is being extracted,” said Kam.
His concept is similar to the well-known tourist spot in Melbourne, Sovereign Hill, where visitors could experience the recreated Aussie goldfields township.
Kam said he plans for a gold museum to display the collection of historical items used at gold mines and also to educate the public on the history of the gold town.
“The development of the tourism industry there could be another driver of economic growth,” said Kam.
Raub was built more than a century ago when its rich gold deposits attracted foreigners. The town lies in peninsular Malaysia's central gold belt and was then a famous gold town.
Kam said the Australians were in Raub to extract gold while the Cambodians rode elephants to the old mining town.
“Raub's gold mining history is recorded in many history books. It is well known among gold miners,” said Kam.
Unfortunately, the town lost its charm when the mining activities stopped.
Many mines were abandoned when the price of gold sank to the US$20 an ounce (oz) level in the 1960s. Without the mining activities, Raub is now a sleepy town.
Thus, Kam believes that reviving the mining industry would be an impetus to spur economic activities in the historical gold town.
Considering how enchanted some people are with the precious yellow metal, Kam wants to build a brand around the ore he extracts from Raub, much like how Royal Selangor Pewter has established its name.
“Royal Selangor Pewter is a strong brand name for Malaysian pewter products.
“I think we should also build a brand name for the gold produced in Raub,” said Kam.