KOTA KINABALU: Villagers concerned about a potential gold mining operation in Ranau district, about 100km away, are relieved to learn that the Sabah government has scrapped the plan.
The cancellation of the prospecting licence issued to a company to look for gold in two villages was announced by Paginatan assemblyman Datuk Abidin Madingkir during a brief ceremony at Kampung Bongkud on Tuesday.
The event was attended by villagers, local leaders, and government department heads.
Abidin, who is also an assistant minister to the Chief Minister, said he brought the issue to the attention of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor after residents of Kampung Bongkud and Kampung Namaus raised their concerns.
He also added that he would be affected because he is a Ranau resident.
“The Chief Minister then decided that the prospecting licence should be withdrawn,” he told reporters after the ceremony.
“I conveyed this decision to the villagers. With this, the concerns and fears voiced by the villagers for the past several months have been resolved,” he said.
It was reported in July that about 600 residents in Kampung Bongkud and Namaus held a protest to oppose the move to begin gold prospecting in their area.
Local news outlets had reported that the villagers were against efforts by a private company to carry out 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.
He 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 after hearing about the mining plan.
“We were worried over what might become of our livelihood and homes if the prospecting operation was given the green light,” he said, and expressed his thanks to the Chief Minister and Abidin for understanding the people’s plight.
About 1,000 people reside in Kampung Bongkud and Namaus.