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Tawau gold mining: Liew wants clear explanation
Published on: Saturday, December 02, 2023
By: Anthea Peter
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Tawau gold mining: Liew wants clear explanation
Liew said during her last term as Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister two years ago, there was no issue concerning approvals with the gold mining project when engaging with stakeholders there.
Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew wants a clear explanation on the ongoing gold mining activity at Bukit Mantri in Tawau which is supposed to stop after being ordered by the State Minerals and Geosciences Department (JMG) to do so.

“The necessary approval needs to be in place first before this (mining activity) can continue. I see two sides of the story, some say it is approved, some say no. So there is a dispute there. I want a full briefing on this,” she told a press conference in her Ministry’s office at Wisma Tun Fuad Stephens, here, Friday.

She said during her last term as Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister two years ago, there was no issue concerning approvals with the gold mining project when engaging with stakeholders there.

She added that she will meet with the relevant parties to clear the air on the latest issue. 

“This is very important. The rules of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and by-rules must be observed,” she stressed. 

On Thursday, Merotai Assemblyman Sarifuddin Hata was reported as saying that gold mining activities at Bukit Mantri are illegal following the expiration of the mining approval on Oct 31, which was not renewed.  

He said the State JMG had issued a stop-work order on Nov 8. 

Sarifuddin further highlighted that the mining activities there did not comply with the EIA report issued by the Department of Environmental Protection. 

He said a meeting held on Aug 22 between JMG, Lands and Surveys and the Office for the Mining Management Scheme recommended an immediate cessation of operations.

However, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Abidin Madingkir told the State Legislative Assembly that there is no problem with conducting mining activities in Bukit Mantri as they’ve been given the green light. 

Abidin said they have fulfilled all the regulatory conditions with the EIA report being met while the department is still deliberating the renewal of the Mining Operation Scheme Approval Letter (SKSPM).

He said no order was issued to stop the mining activities in accordance with Section 18(D) of the Mining Ordinance 1960.

Meanwhile, Liew said the United Kingdom’s (UK) first major change to its travel advice for Sabah since 2013 augurs well for the lifting of the advisory to British nationals against travel to the east coast of Sabah.

She concurred with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor that Sabah is a safe place to visit and to do business.

“We hail the decision by the UK Government (as announced by the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ailsa Terry) that the UK Government no longer advises against travel to islands and dive sites in the maritime area around Kudat.

“I am optimistic that it is a matter of time before the UK Government lifts the travel advisory against visiting the east coast of Sabah,” Liew said.

It was pointed out that advice against all but essential travel to islands and dive sites from Sandakan to Tawau, including Lankayan Island, remains in place.

Statistics compiled by the Sabah Tourism Board’s Statistics Division indicate that there were 20,532 visitor arrivals from the UK and Ireland from January to September this year.

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