KOTA KINABALU: Officials from the Sabah Natural Resources Department have inspected the gold mining operations in Tawau amid calls by environmentalists for transparency.
A nine-member team led by the department’s secretary Mohd Jasmin Juplin was briefed by a company official on the operations at the site in Balung Cocos, Bukit Mantri, on the outskirts of Tawau district last week.
The officers, whose department comes under the Sabah Chief Minister’s office, also carried out an inspection on the waste recycling system at the mining site.
Jasmin was accompanied by the department’s head of mining section Stephen Moligan.
They were briefed by Wullersdorf Resources Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Lo Fui Ming during their site visit last week.
During the briefing, Lo said operations had begun in September last year after obtaining all the necessary permits from the relevant government agencies.
He said the mining operation was in its ninth month and that the company had already paid the state government RM600,000 in royalties.
Giving the assurance that the company was observing all the environmental safeguards and regulations set by, among others, the state Mineral and Geo-science Department, Land and Survey Department, the Environmental Protection Department and the Forestry Department, Lo said the waste water was stored before being treated and reused.
“Our company is among only two in Malaysia that use this costly method of waste water treatment,” he said, adding that it was already following international standards in its operations.
The company is currently carrying out mining on 10% of the total 800ha site.
Dismissing claims that heavy logging was also taking place within the area, Lo said any tree cutting was for the road, office and mining operations while the rest were left intact. “All our mining operations at the site are transparent,” he added.
Recently, the Sabah Environmental Protection Association urged the state government to set up an independent watchdog to monitor operations at the site.