IN the past, mining has been the industry maligned for being environmentally unsustainable. However miners have always grappled with ‘green’ matters and sustainability.
Sand mining became one of the most sought after businesses extensively due to the need in building construction, glass-making, road construction and electronics. Worldwide, sand mining has in fact become the most extracted resources in the world, even more than oil and biomass.
Both sand and gravel make up the most extracted resources in the world because extracting them is cheap. Coupled with an ever increasing demand, this form of mining has also attracted many small-time businesses to set up impromptu mining ventures.
Due to its massive volume, sand mining outfits operated without strict monitoring despite tight regulation from technical authorities and some areas could be deemed illegal, even harmful to the surrounding community and biodiversity.
That has prompted the state of Selangor to establish Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB) in 2008 to manage exploration, extraction, production and distribution of sand, rock materials and mineral resources within Selangor.
Apart from ensuring discipline among mining operators, KSSB’s vision is also to ensure fairer socio-economic benefits in Selangor with the tagline “Merakyatkan Ekonomi Negeri Selangor” (Popularising Selangor’s Economy).
In doing so, KSSB has set in place some of the best practices as early as 2008, even before issues on environment, society and governance became a yardstick for investors to gauge company performances.
In order to maintain sustainability of the surrounding land, KSSB sets in place a systematic mining process and monitoring of the environmental impact of sand mining.
KSSB research and marketing head Mohd Nizam Mohd Ishak said, “Because the core business is mining, KSSB deals a lot with the environmental issues in the mining area, where it’s about water and the plantations and social communities.”
“Before, most of the mining was not done in a proper way, some of the methods were illegal and some damaged the environment,” said Mohd Nizam.
“Furthermore in terms of economic returns to the state, Selangor did not profit from these mining cartels in the past.”
When KSSB was formed, it started setting the necessary procedures and practices.
Internally, the company has its own governance integrity department that oversees matters that also includes internal audit, risk management and corporate governance, all of which are reported to the board of governance integrity on a quarterly basis.
It was certified ISO 9001:2015 QMS in sand extraction, its removal and delivery, as well as in the construction and maintenance of roadworks.
The company is very particular about environmental issues because the industry is seen as one of the contributors of pollution.
It has dedicated teams of consultants to ensure its mining operation adheres to proper mining schemes, monitoring and generating reports on the environmental impact assessment (EIA), approved by the Department of Environment (DOE).
“We have created initial studies before embarking on working on a site, which will then be monitored on a monthly and quarterly basis via the environmental monitoring report (EMR).
Besides having an internal team preparing EMR to the DOE on the quarterly basis, it also provides water sampling to the Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS), which monitors all river and mining pools monthly.
In maintaining the biodiversity of the surrounding land, the company initiates mangrove planting along the river at Sungai Selangor and Sungai Bernam, which helps sustain the firefly population.
Internally, the company ran a recycling and e-waste programme for Malaysia Day partnering with KDEB Waste Management and Media Selangor and a trash-to-cash programme that involved the staff. It has digitally transformed its operations by adopting cloud services and electronic resources to stop paper usage and waste.
Working in the mining industry has its fair share of hazards be it on-site or office-bound, employer and employee health requires safety policies that would help defray unintended accidents or mishaps from occurring.
Part of its social obligation is also emphasised on its staff wellbeing and human capital development. To encourage its employees to lead healthier lives, it has several programmes that reward staff for being physically active.
KSSB also arranges regular check-ups for all staff, while those with potential critical illness are monitored, encouraged to join health programmes and reassessed on whether their current work areas are suitable for them.
The management cascades down its ESG implementation to all staff and contractors to educate through information, awareness and participation.
Many misinterpret its solely as a mining company due to its involvement in extraction and distribution of sand business.
KSSB serves the wider community with preventive flood mitigation measures, such as desilting rivers at key spots to ease the water flow as well as offering post-flood services to those affected by the tragedy.
This is in line with the company’s main objective of mitigating floods by river desilting works and sand mining, and the aim of rehabilitating the area into a retention pond for water supply and flood control upon the end of the mining period.
It also provides pump services to supply water from the pond to rivers that lead to water treatment plants and vice versa in the event of a flood.
KSSB was mandated by the State Government to provide reservior ponds to cater water supply of up to 300 millilitres per day for the Klang Valley.
It also helps increase the Orang Asli and B40 communities’ socio-economic status by creating employment opportunities, providing basic education and improving infrastructure within those communities.
Of the three ESG pillars, governance was the most needed to be in place as it is the key reason that KSSB was formed.
For its efforts and quality of work, the company was chosen to represent the country and bagged the award for the Best Practices in Sustainable Mineral Development (Non-Metallic Minerals Distribution) in Asean at the 2019 Asean Mineral Awards (AMA) in Bangkok.
Today, KSSB has diversified into six subsidiaries, with activities that cover infrastructural work and road maintenance for JKR Negeri Selangor, consultancy, a trading arm and a system pump machinery and more.
It also developed a Smart Docket app that provides hands-on mining management control and also a system that enables a fleet of drones to monitor roads and highways for signs of damage and potholes.
One of its more ambitious plans involve converting used mining ponds into a vast floating solar farm or an open dual function reservoir that is sustained for long term – both plans will convert the land into a usable resource for the community.
“We need to change the mindset of people that we are not damaging the environment but with a proper monitoring and system, we make sure that we give more to the society and the environment,” said Mohd Nizam.