Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
"We know we’re fighting a losing battle but I want to do my best for the future generation because we don’t want them to curse us for not standing up for their rights."
PETALING JAYA (Oct 18, 2010): "We know we’re fighting a losing battle but I want to do my best for the future generation because we don’t want them to curse us for not standing up for their rights."
These were the words of Bukit Koman Anti-Cyanide Committee (BKACC) secretary Mustapha Hussin when the committee was honoured at the Wild Asia Heroes recognition event at the Freedom Film Festival.
"We are not against the mine and its operations but we’re against the usage of sodium cyanide at the carbon-in-leach (CIL) plant which is so close to the village.
"We’re worried about the effects on our community and the environment especially in time to come," he said at the event held at Universiti Malaya.
He had travelled from Raub with BKACC president Wong Kin Hoong, assistant secretary Hue Fui How and Hue’s wife and was joined by other committee members.
The Bukit Koman community were one of the four Wild Asia Heroes nominated this year alongside Dr Joean Oon, also known as the Garbage Enzyme Lady; the now infamous Orang Asli champion Tijah Yok Chopil and the Lubok Bongor Conservation, Cultural, Social and Welfare Society in Kelantan.
Mustapha related the 200-year-old history of the Raub Australian Gold Mining site and the villagers’ battle against the use of cyanide.
"During a meeting in 2006, the villagers were told that the operations were 'safe'," he said, adding that the operators could not give them any assurance in writing.
"We’ve gone through the proper channels, sure they were very helpful but once they look at the evidence and know who we are, they stop there."
Wild Asia associate editor Jules Ong said the heroes were chosen because they worked for their cause with very little recognition and support.
"These heroes have been working very quietly with a lot of obstacles as well," Ong said in her introduction.
Wild Asia also extended its social media platform – Twitter (twitter.com/wildasia) and Facebook homepage (http://www.facebook.com/wildasiafan) – for the heroes to publicise their efforts and programmes.The short films can be viewed on www.wildasia.org/main.cfm/heroes
Llew-Ann Phang and James Hyams
RAUB Australian Gold Mining (RAGM) has complied with the stringent standards set by government agencies like the Department of Environment, and Land and Mines Department, that even schoolchildren visit it.
RAGM owner, Peninsular Gold chairman and chief executive director Datuk Seri Andrew Kam said RAGM frequently receives requests from the community, including schools, to visit the mine.
"We encourage such visits. They show that we are transparent about our operations and which we believe to be a further demonstration of the community’s support for our project," he said.
RAGM’s environmental manager, Gayathri Indran, said the company has gone out of its way to communicate to the local residents about its operations, how safe they are and how they are subject to monitoring tests by the relevant government agencies.
|An employee of the mine testing the chemical level of a tailings solution|
obtained from the mine.
"I gave them my contact details so they can call me the next time they saw smoke or any kind of emission from the mine but I’ve received no calls since."
During a recent visit, RAGM technical chief operating officer Laurie Mann said there was nothing special about the way the mine operates.
"It’s a standard run-of-the-ill carbon-in-leach (CIL) plant. If there is something special about it, it’s the green all around it,"he said.
He said the levels of reagent and chemicals like cyanide are at such low levels that they cannot be precisely measured.
"We maintain the water at pH levels and never allow neutralising of the water in which the sludge is mixed with cyanide, hydrogen peroxide, hydrochloric acid, carbon and liquid oxygen," Mann said.
He said the amount of cyanide used in the mine does not present a danger to humans or the environment and monitors are in place to set off alarms should a leak take place.
"We’re not saying it is not dangerous. It’s about how you use it. We’re happy to show people around because there is nothing special about this plant at all," he said. "Some people somewhere are making a lot of effort to stir up something."
Mann explained RAGM had not ratified the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC), to apply new standards since ICMC "evolves with time".
RAGM says it is committed to being a signatory to the ICMC in about four to five years but, in the mean time, it will continue to comply with international standards for its operations as they are "efficient" and it is "company policy".
The company claims the Department of Environment had camped out eight days at the site to ensure that its operations were not affecting the air quality and jeopardising the health of the surrounding neighbourhood.
"There is no benefit in making ourselves liable. Why would we dump in that kind of money (investment) to cause any trouble? We are a part of the community," said an RAGM employee, who requested anonymity
"We have workers from here and we want a harmonious life not just for us but for the people here and we want everything to be safe."
The plant, which runs round the clock, is manned by 180 employees on three shifts. Static monitors stationed in various locations around the CIL plant are calibrated every two months (instead of the requirement of six months) by an independent company to ensure that harmful levels of chemicals are not emitted.
The pH level of the mix in CIL tanks is tested by employees at a frequency of four to five times each shift, Mann said.
Process used in mines around the world
THE carbon in leach (CIL) and cyanide mining process is used in gold mines throughout the world, including Stawell Gold Mine in Australia, Martha Gold Mine in New Zealand, and Campbell Gold Mine in Canada.
At all of these mines, the CIL facility is located between 555m and 1.17km from the nearest residential zone. Peninsula Gold, the company that owns RAGM, is listed as a company from Jersey where companies pay limited, if any, tax.
RAGM’s main shareholder at 38.3% is Datuk Seri Andrew Kam whose father, Kam Woon Wah, is a veteran of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).
by Llew-Ann Phang and James Hyams
RAUB (Oct 17, 2010): THE RAGM mine commenced using a carbon-in-leach (CIL) technology in 2007 to extract gold from old mining deposits, also known as tailings.
As cyanide readily bonds with gold, it is used at hundreds of mines around the world to extract gold.
At RAGM, the dug out soil, which is bonded with the minute grains of gold ore, is put through a series of open vats and mixed with water, sodium cyanide, liquid oxygen, carbon, hydrogen peroxide, lime, unslaked lime, and hydrochloric acid.
Thereafter, the cyanide solution and gold are separated.
The remaining cyanide-mud slush is restored to a safe level and then put into the tailings pond.
According to mine Technical Chief Operating Officer Laurie Mann, the remaining cyanide is in such a small dose that is dissipates.
"While cyanide can be dangerous, we spend a lot of time and money to ensure the process is completely safe," he said.
Dr Glenn Miller, an expert on the impact of chemicals used in mines, said that the 1996 EIA was inadequate.
"These documents did not accurately describe the proposed mine, and, in fact some aspects were apparently changed in a significant manner, including the method of tailings disposal, as well as the location of several of the mine components.
"The documents did not meet international or US standards and would not have been accepted in most jurisdictions."
Miller believes the EIA should start again and RAGM should sign the International Cyanide Management Code.
"In one of the documents I reviewed, the mine proponent indicated that they would abide by the Cyanide Code.
"Unless the mining company is a signatory of the Code, the assertion of abiding by the Code is meaningless."
Mann said the RAGM mine follows guidelines outlined in the Cyanide Code but it would be another four to five years before it ratified the code.
Miller’s strongest criticism was the lack of information from RAGM and the regulatory agencies.
"Because a list of the chemicals and the amount used is not provided, it is effectively impossible to know if any of the chemicals used at the site have had an impact on the surrounding community."
Miller said the RAGM mine is the most "hidden" project he has ever reviewed.
"In my experience over nearly 30 years with mines, the practice of not releasing information correlates with increased problems in the years ahead.
"When something goes wrong in a secretive mining operation, the public is less likely to know about it, and improvements and changes in practices are less likely to occur.
"Also in my experience, mining companies also are subject to less damaging criticism when they are open with information and have good communication with the surrounding residents.
"In the case of the Raub mine with residents immediately around the borders of the mine, communication is critical to maintaining good public relations and a healthy operating environment."
Miller also was surprised by the "threatening stance" he alleges RAGM took towards him.
"Rather than invite citizens of Bukit Koman to visit the site when I was there, they had a rather rotund guard follow us around the community on a motor scooter as we travelled from place to place."
When Kam was asked about these "watchdogs", he suggested Dr Miller went to Raub with presuppositions about the mine.
"Would you let someone into your home who has already made up their mind before seeing the facts?"
On its visit theSun, accompanied by residents and their lawyers, were tailed on a public road next to the RAGM mine. A mine personnel copied down the number plate of our vehicle and followed us on a motorcycle until we left the vicinity.
The state government has not returned emails requesting information on whether the Environment, Health, Minerals and Geoscience departments are conducting checks and doing reports as suggested by Pahang Local Government, Environment and Health exco Datuk Hoh Khai Mun back in May last year.
He had said that geologists will check the mining site every week and every three months, a medical team will carry out health inspections on residents, as well as take water samples from the area.Residents claim this is not being done. -- theSun
by Llew-Ann Phang and James Hyams
RAUB (Oct 17, 2010): LIKE many, the residents of Bukit Koman want three things in life -- good health, peace, and a good environment to leave to the next generation.
However some residents feel all these are under threat in Bukit Koman. They say the Raub Australia Gold Mining Sdn Bhd (RAGM), located about 900m from the village is polluting the air, poses a risk to the environment and is affecting their health.
Residents are also crying foul as the Environmental Impact Assessment was completed in 1996, although the mine only started operations 11 years later. Politicians have been avoiding them and police have, at times, stopped residents from protesting or arrested them for entering the mine.
Hue Fui How, who has lived in Bukit Koman for more than 30 years, claims members of the community are getting sick regularly with skin and eye conditions, breathing difficulties and stress.
"For old people like us, our immune systems are down. My speech is already slowing down.
"It may be psychological. It could be air-borne pollution. No-one knows … Not even the doctors."
Liew See Yong and Chan Ah Lan suffer from skin conditions. Liew went to a local doctor who could not locate the source of the irritation, yet suggested it could be a result of stress, an allergy or something air-borne.
Chan also has a skin condition that started two years ago. She has seen skin specialists and claims to have spent more than RM20,000 on treatment to no avail.
Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw, a dermatologist, when shown photographs, said Chan’s skin condition resembled Urticaria.
Datuk Seri Andrew Kam who owns the RAGM gold mine said he is yet to see anyone with such a skin condition.
"If they have a legitimate reason to believe it is related to the mine they should show me," he said.
However, members of the Bukit Koman Anti-Cyanide Committee (BKACC) dispute this, having staged protests against the mine and have resorted to the courts to stop the use of potentially toxic chemicals in the mine.
Bukit Koman Resident and assistant secretary of the BKACC Hue Fui How said there has never been any health inspections in the area and doubts the other departments are monitoring the situation.
"For the last six months I have not seen anyone from the health department," he said.
BKACC president Wong Kim Loong feels the government could do more.
"We went through all the proper channels. Nothing was done," he said, adding that the mine is too close to the village.
"Heavy industries should be at least five kilometres from a village."-- theSun
by Llew-Ann Phang and James Hyams
RAUB (Oct 17, 2010): FOR two years, residents of Bukit Koman have been expressing their concern on the use of cyanide in the operations of Raub Australian Gold Mining, located under a kilometre away.
The residents – who have held numerous protests, despite being obscure and restricted to the small coterie of villagers – were labelled opportunistic, and unreasonable for their concerns over their health and the environment.
Their problem was thrust into the national spotlight when up to 85 of them travelled by two hired buses to Hulu Selangor to confront their MP, Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen who was campaigning in the by-election, in full glare of television cameras and flashing bulbs.
The result of the confrontation with Ng was a 20-minute commotion which she pinned on DAP’s Tras assemblyman Chong Siew Onn as attempting to "cause trouble" for political reasons.
In June last year, Ng was quoted as saying she remained mum on the matter because when "people refuse to listen to scientific facts, one cannot talk reason."
In a recent attempt to contact Ng for a response, all she said, according to a staff, was: "I will respond when the time is right."
Ng had in fact met residents and the Bukit Koman Anti-Cyanide Committee (BKACC) and brought a specialist to see them. This meeting took place in 2006, a year before the mine commenced operations using cyanide – a vital chemical for extracting gold from soil. It is a method that has been used for more than a century.
The residents beg to differ as they claim they have been suffering health and environmental impacts since the mine started operations in 2007.
BKACC’s concerns have sparked off a case now in the Court of Appeal. Residents, aided by Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are applying for leave for judicial review of the Department of Environment’s (DOE) decision not to order a fresh Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The mine is operating on an EIA done in 1996 – almost 11 years before the commencement of mining using the carbon-in-leach (CIL) technology.
While waiting the outcome of their legal battle, Bukit Koman residents continue to suffer eye irritation, breathing difficulty and skin conditions that are expensive to treat.
A 54-year-old housewife claims she has spent more than RM20,000 on the lingering skin condition for the past two years. The rash is spread in large blotches on her face, neck and arms.
"I’ve lived here for 31-years. There was nothing at first (referring to her skin condition) and then when the mine started … Gone lah (The rash started appearing)!
"Now I have to travel to KL to see a specialist and sit in an air-conditioned room for most of the day," Chan Ah Lan said.
BKACC president Wong Kin Hoong said the committee had exhausted all the proper channels when trying to obtain data and information for the village of about 3,000 people.
"We tried approaching the DOE, the Department of Lands and Mines, the Department of Health, our state exco for health and environment, the mentri besar who took over the Village Head position (a position traditionally held by the MCA state liaison chairman) but we have received no help.
"We met with the MB and the Exco but we didn’t get to express our concerns at that meeting because we felt we were ambushed by the presence of RAGM people," Wong lamented.
RAGM – a subsidiary of Peninsular Gold – maintains that its operations at the CIL plant was indeed safe.
Peninsular Gold chairman and chief executive Datuk Seri Andrew Kam opened the mine’s doors to theSun to have a look at its operations.
"We’re very open and transparent and we have nothing to hide … If they have a health problem and they have a legitimate reason to believe it is related to the mine they should show me. I will look into it," he said.
The use of cyanide is carefully carried out and monitored and if there is a change in operations, RAGM is required to submit an Environment Management Plan to the DOE.
RAGM technical chief operation officer Laurie Mann, during a tour of the mine, explained that the dug out soil is mixed with water, sodium cyanide, liquid oxygen, carbon, hydrogen peroxide, lime, unslaked lime and hydrochloric acid.
"The cyanide solution and gold are separated and the remaining cyanide and mud slush is restored to a safe level, and then put into the tailing pond.
"The remaining cyanide is in such a small dose that is dissipates."While cyanide can be dangerous, we spend a lot of time and money to ensure the process is completely safe," Mann added. -- theSun
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
山埃存放在一個一個的container 裡，排成一排，觸目驚心的"sodium cyanide" lable，看了令人心頭一悚！(图片刊於2009年3月28日南洋商報東海岸封面版。)
About Me ｜简介
- Bukit Koman ｜武吉公满
- Kami adalah penduduk yang dilahirkan dan dibesarkan di Bukit Koman, Raub. Sememangnya, kami seharusnya dapat menikmati rahmat yang ditakdirkan, iaitu tinggal dengan aman. Namun, ketenteraman dan kesihatan penduduk tergugat apabila apabila lombong emas yang bersebelahan dengan rumah kediaman kami mengguna Sodium Cyanide dalam perlombongan. Ratusan penduduk mengadu tentang masalah kesihatan dalam tempoh 1 bulan selepas lombong emas mula beroperasi pada Febuari 2009. Kami tidak dapat lagi bertoleransi dengan ancaman ini. Untuk menjamin keselamatan ahli keluarga tersayang dan masa depan generasi kami yang akan datang, kami sanggup melakukan apa sahaja demi mempertahankan keamanan dan keselamatan kampung halaman kami. 我们是在劳勿武吉公满土生土长数十年的普通居民。本已到了知天命之年，奈何眼见挚爱的家园因为山埃的入侵，面临沦为“毒村”的致命威胁，我们决定站出来，抗战到底！为了我们爱惜的家人，为了我们的下一代，背水一战，决不妥协！ Email：bancyanide@Gmail.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BanCyanideInGoldMining