KOTA KINABALU: Sabah environmentalists are calling for an independent monitoring watchdog to keep close tabs on a gold mining operation in Tawau.
Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) president Lanash Thanda said a monitoring committee should comprise of non-governmental organisations and technical agencies.
“Committee members should not have vested interest and must be given the mandate to conduct an environmental audit on the planning processes of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and on-site operations for mining in sensitive areas,” she said here yesterday.
Lanash said they had been seeking details about environmental requirements for the company’s mining operations but the relevant departments have not answered the queries.
“We have been asking but no answers. We hope that the new Parti Warisan Sabah-led state government will be more transparent in allowing the public to be in the know of the various environmental requirements,” she said.
Lanash noted that Sabah already had a “bad environmental experience” from the Mamut copper mine at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu in Ranau that ended operations in 2000.
“It remains a severe environmental concern for the people in the vicinity,” she said.
She pointed out rehabilitation at the site was too costly.
“The costs of rehabilitating has left it desolate with concerns over the structure of the walls of the open mine that currently holds about 20.6 million cubic water containing acid mine drainage that was affected by the 2015 earthquake.
“Sabah government had better clean up environmental planning processes and become more transparent and include the public in any decision making process, particularly with the Federal Government urging the state to open up more mines,” Lanash added.
There been suggestions for Sabah to issue more mining licences to extract natural resources in the state.