Ranau villagers elated after gold prospecting plans scrapped

KOTA KINABALU: Residents of two villages in Sabah's Ranau district can breathe easy as the state government has scrapped a plan to allow gold prospecting in their area.

The cancellation of the prospecting licence issued to a company was announced by Paginatan assemblyman Datuk Abidin Madingkir during a brief ceremony at Kampung Bongkud on Tuesday (Sept 26).

The event was attended by villagers, local leaders as well as government department heads.

The Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister said that he brought the issue to the attention of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor after concerns were raised by residents of Kampung Bongkud and Kampung Namaus.

Abidin added that as a Ranau resident, he would also be affected should a mineral mining operation be carried out in the district.

"After I brought this to the attention of the Chief Minister, he decided that the prospecting license should be withdrawn,” he told reporters after the brief ceremony. Today I conveyed the decision he (Hajiji) made to the villagers,” he said.

“With this, the concerns and fears voiced by the villagers for the past several months have been resolved,” added Abidin.

It was reported in July that some 600 residents in Kampung Bongkud and Kampung Namaus, held a protest to oppose gold prospecting in their backyard.

Local news outlets had reported that the villagers were against efforts by a private company to undertake gold prospecting activities at Bukit Tompong.

Pita Yusuf, chairman of the ad-hoc committee against the mineral prospecting activities, said a gold mining operation would affect the lives of local residents in Kampung Bongkud and Namaus as well as the surrounding areas.

Pita said the mining operations could involve areas such as agricultural land, housing, schools, clinics and water catchment sites, among others.

The elation and relief were visible on the faces of the villagers at the event after the announcement by Abidin.

According to Sainin @ Onit Hamid, many of the villagers, himself included, had sleepless nights ever since they first heard about the matter.

“We dreaded what would become of our livelihood and home if the prospecting operation was given the green light. As someone who was born and bred here, this announcement was very good news to us,” he said, thanking the Chief Minister and Abidin for understanding the people’s plight.

There are some 1,000 people residing in Kampung Bongkud and Namaus.

Towards this end, Abidin praised the villagers for their patience on the issue.

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