Tawau gold dispute: Masidi sure Land and Survey dept will take appropriate action


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah puts its trust in the state Land and Surveys Department to solve the ongoing land and gold mining dispute in Bukit Mantri, Tawau.

State Finance Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun (pic) said he believes the department will be able to take the necessary actions based on recommendations from Senallang assemblyman Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal to stop gold mining activities in Tawau.

The latter had said that since there was a dispute on land and mining activities there, and with Sabah having the authority over its land and mining laws, the state had to stop it and not wait for the Federal Government to give a directive.

"I am sure the Land and Surveys Department director will take appropriate action with regards to the suggestions from Senallang," he said this when answering a supplementary question at the State Assembly sitting, Tuesday (April 23).

Earlier, nominated assemblyman Datuk Yong Teck Lee asked about measures taken to prevent losses from gold mining activities following the recent seizure of 110kg gold bars at Tawau.

Assistant Finance Minister Datuk Julita Mojungki said as gold mining was still new in Sabah, the state had to continuously improve and revise procedures, regulations and other matters pertaining to this industry so that maximum revenue could be generated.

She said so far, Bukit Matri was the only mining site available in Sabah and it involved over 300ha of land.

Since operating in 2018, a total of 2,300kg of gold bars with a value of more than RM23.9mil had been sold, she said.

"Sabah has not imposed a sales tax on gold and has not charged export duties on gold that are brought out from Sabah to peninsula Malaysia because the gold is sold domestically," said Julita.

On Yong’s question, she said the gold seizure in Tawau did not cause the state any losses because the bars were returned to the people bringing them after authorities verified that there was no breach of laws.

To maximise revenue collection from sales of gold, the state is collaborating with various partners and government agencies including the Land and Surveys Department, Sabah Mineral Management Sdn. Bhd. (SMM), Mineral and Geoscience Department and Customs Department to improve gold mining and melting process.

She said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has among others, appointed the Land and Surveys Department director to manage mineral and mining operations, creating an integrated steering committee, enforcement of existing laws, review contacts, agreements, acts, ordinances and enactments on royalties, and is considering to implement sales tax on gold brought out of Sabah.

Julita said initiatives to ensure the sustainability of the industry and in protecting the environment were being looked at, with laws to be enforced and made more stringent and creating awareness on sustainability.

"Science and technology are being focused on more, to see to a more efficient mining process where quality and quantity is improved, with minimal impact on the environment," she said.

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