KOTA KINABALU: The adage "all that glitters is not gold" may hold true for the people of Sabah's poverty-stricken northern Pitas district after they discovered glittering rocks there.
The rocks have sparked a "gold rush" over the past few days after they were found at a road construction project.
Prominent geologist Prof Dr Felix Tongkul suspects, however, that the glittering rocks could likely be the minerals pyrite (sulphide with metallic lustre) or chalcopyrite (copper iron sulphide) that are commonly referred to as "fool's gold".
Tongkul said based on the images being circulated on social media, the find is likely to be fool's gold although the state Minerals and Geoscience Department would need to confirm it.
Department acting director Webster Wong said on Wednesday (Nov 10) that it was sending a team to analyse the rocks found on the hilly slope of a road construction site in Kg Boluuh Bongkol, Pitas.
Villagers had been digging for the rocks there over the last two or three days, forcing the authorities to step in and cordon off the area as their activities were disturbing the construction work.
Kota Marudu district police chief Supt Zairolnizal Ishak said there were no untoward incidents so far, and police reports had been filed over the rush for the glittering rocks.
"Initial information we received suggests that it is not gold, but the matter is being investigated by the Sabah Minerals and Geoscience Department," he said.
The "golden discovery" also triggered a spate of viral posts on social media.
The rocks were first spotted on Monday (Nov 8) by workers at the site and news of the discovery spread quickly, attracting the attention of people near and far.
Although gold is mined in south-eastern Sabah, geologists like Tongkul have said Pitas was not an area known for having gold veins.