Sabah authorities keeping close watch on possibility of illegal gold mining

KOTA KINABALU: State Forestry officials and other enforcement agencies are keeping a close watch on the possibility of illegal gold mining activities in Sabah, especially in forest reserves.

Sabah chief conservator of forests Frederick Kugan said although there have been no further reports of such activities following a raid in Lahad Datu on Oct 10, investigations and monitoring will still be conducted.

“Illegal mining of gold is not as widespread as claimed and we suspect illegal immigrants are involved,” he said when contacted Thursday (Oct 14).

“There have been no further leads in the recent case but the department will continue to investigate and patrol as well as monitor the area,” he said.

In the incident, General Operations Force (GOF) personnel came across gold mining tools stored in between the large exposed roots of a tree near Sungai Bole Ulu Segama-Malua, Lahad Datu.

No suspects have been nabbed so far.

Meanwhile, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin said he was informed that such illegal activities were not rampant in Sabah.

He also said that even legal mining of this nature was not common, as there was only one gold mining licence issued in the state thus far.

He declined to say whether this sole licence belonged to an individual or a company.

Jafry explained that for mining activities, approval has to be obtained from various parties including the Land and Surveys Department and the state Environmental Protection Department, while an environmental impact assessment report is needed before any work can start.

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