KOTA KINABALU: Environmentalists are asking the state Environmental Protection Department to clear the air whether a gold mining company in Tawau has been allowed to use cyanide and smelting process for gold dore bar production.
A dore bar is a partially refined gold bar which is typically a super high gold content alloy, sometimes actually pure.
According to Lanash Thanda, president of the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa), there was much concern about whether cyanide had been used in the smelting process.
According to Sepa, there was no mention of such use in the terms of reference for the Special Environmental Impact Assessment (Seia). What was mentioned was only the Knelson and flotation processes.
Knelson is used for the recovery of fine particles of free gold, meaning gold that does not require gold cyanidation for recovery, she said.
The Seia listed the groups of chemical reagents used as collectors, frothers and regulators and gave no indication of dore gold or silver ore processes, she added.
Lanash said that Sepa had requested for specific clarification on why the mining company was allowed to start gold processing, which would likely include the use of cyanide.
She said a news report dated Aug 1 announced that the mining company had yielded first gold dore bar in Tawau.
This raised concerns among the public and environmental groups of the methods used.
Lanash said the use of sodium cyanide requires a Quantitative Risk Assessment.
There must be transparency in the process, she added.