- Within a month after the Raub Australian Gold Mine (RAGM) start its operation in Feb 2009, more than 300 residents from nearby villages were medically reported to be suffering from illnesses including: skin rashes, red and watery eyes, throat irritation, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, dizziness and others signs and symptoms of health problem.
- A random survey covering households in the area (up to 2km radius area from the RAGM plant) was conducted in May 2012 based on a standardized questionnaire. Survey results show about 50% of the residents suffer from skin diseases and eye irritation. Another 40% of the respondents had coughing. These results suggest the presence of air borne irritants affecting these respondents. There were 8 cases of cancer among the respondents. Unspecific complaints such as giddiness and lethargy were also high at about 35%.
- Both health monitoring and survey results showed the residents’ health are at high risk after being exposed to chronic air borne irritants.
Air Quality was monitored by measuring devices bought by the residence. It indicated that up till 7/8/2011:
- SO2 : Detected 0.3- 47.66ppm of Sulfur Dioxide (Industrial safety limit is
- Hydrogen Cyanide: Detected 0.3-30ppm (Occasionally) of HCN (Industrial safety limit is
3. Raub Australian Gold Mine (RAGM) is just NEXT TO the residence area, this is the nearest distance found in the world. There is no buffer zone between the gold mine that use cyanide and the residential area.
4. Large Usage of Hazardous Chemicals
Large amount of hazardous chemicals were used annually:
- 400 tones of Sodium Cyanide used annually averaging 1.5 tones a day. (A little mount of 100-200mg NaCN is enough to put a person unconscious in10 seconds and to take a life in a minute)
- 131.4 tones of Sulfur Dioxide used annually.
Dr. Glenn C. Miller, an Environmental Chemist from US who specializes in cyanide mining had performed an on-site investigation in February 2008 and released a report in 29th May the same year. The report disclosed:
- ·The design of the gold mine operation and waste disposal treatment was found inadequate and it failed to fulfill the International Safety Standards. The tailing that contain heavy metal and acidic waste, and will cause the metal-cyanide contamination. This will severely pollute the underground water.
- ·The gold mine claimed that they are complying with international safety standards but failed to announce they are following which standards. Moreover, the official website of International Cyanide Management Code indicates that the company didn’t sign the code nor comply with the standards and the operational codes. (Dr. Glenn C. Miller is one of the committee members of ICMC).
- ·In the 1997 Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (PEIA) report, RAGM suggested storing the tailings that contained Cyanide and others hazardous waste in the open pit area created by mining thus using the dumping back method.
- No clear statement was issued on the waste treatment and detoxification procedure to prevent the hazardous tailing from being drained to contaminate the underground water. Up to date, RAGM failed to answer any queries related to this hazardous tailing disposal treatment.
- There are 12 three-storey high open tanks that contain processing fluid in operation every day. The hazardous gas (e.g. HCN and SO2) vaporizes and spreads as far as 5 km. The polluted air will cause acid rain that causes serious health consequences and leaching into groundwater or nearby surface water to pollute the water source.
- RAGM did not respond to the request to announce its Environmental Management Plan that will detail their environmental controls. RAGM also refuses to report the water quality and air quality monitoring results publicly.
- Cyanide extraction method is banned in many countries such as: Germany, Turkey, Romania, Greece, Honduras, and Argentina, the federated states of Colorado, Wisconsin and Montana of U.S.A.
- Most of the environmental protection agencies all over the world have banned the Cyanide extraction process.
- Under the CIMAH (1996) Regulation, in the case the manufacturer is storing, producing or using more than 20 tons of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2 ), it is the manufacturer’s obligation to prepare an off-site emergency plan for the area surrounding the site. It is the duty of manufacturer to supply appropriate information to the concerned public without their having to request for it. The information will include the hazard and risk of the chemicals, nature of a major accident including its potential effects on the population and the environment, how the population will be warned and kept informed in the event of an accident or emergency with regards to the method to evacuate and etc.
- However, RAGM that uses more than 130 tones of SO2 failed to engage local villagers till now despite many attempts to request for the information,
- Furthermore, any forms of explanation and clarification session held by the invited experts were stopped and refrained by the police.
- The Cyanide leakage incidents have brought environment disasters and catastrophe all around the world.
- The most severe Cyanide contamination case happened in Romania (30th January 2000). A major leak and spillage from gold mine reservoir, releasing more than 100 thousand cubic meter of cyanide-rich and chemical contaminated waste water. The contaminant travelled via tributaries into the Somes &Tisza river and finally into the Danube river before reaching the Black Sea. Affected areas are as wide as Romania, Hungry, and Yugoslavia. Two thousands meter square of the Danube River was found contaminated after this incident. Putting the residents along the riverside at the lethal risk.
- Repeated statement found in the Admission Document submitted to London Stock Exchange by Peninsular Gold Ltd (the parent company of RAGM) dated 17 June 2005, that cyanide detoxification MAY NOT be required for its operation in Bukit Koman site and has not been included in the operating costs as the cyanide detoxification is not required it by the local authority.
- This is an offence of the Malaysia Environmental Quality Act requirements.
- RAGM does not include any funding and provision in terms of Cyanide leaking and recovery of environmental pollution.