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Tawau gold mining again in spotlight
Published on: Wednesday, April 24, 2024
By: Nikko Fabian
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Tawau gold mining again in spotlight
Yong who is also a Nominated Assemblyman asked about measures taken to prevent losses from gold mining activities following the recent seizure of 110kg gold bars at Tawau. - Pic (right) for illustration only.
Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has raised concerns regarding the ongoing land and gold mining dispute in Tawau, Sabah.

Party President Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee who is also a Nominated Assemblyman asked about measures taken to prevent losses from gold mining activities following the recent seizure of 110kg gold bars at Tawau.

The dispute revolves around conflicting claims over land ownership and mining rights in Bukit Mantri, Tawau.

The State Land and Surveys Department has been entrusted with the responsibility of resolving the matter.

State Finance Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun expressed his confidence in the department’s ability to take appropriate actions based on recommendations from Senallang Assemblyman Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who called for a halt to gold mining activities in Tawau.

SAPP emphasised the importance of the State Government’s proactive approach in resolving the dispute, as Sabah holds authority over its land and mining laws.

The party believes that waiting for directives from the Federal Government would not be in the best interest of the state.

In response to SAPP’s queries, Assistant Finance Minister Datuk Julita Mojungki highlighted the continuous efforts to improve procedures, regulations, and other aspects related to the gold mining industry in Sabah.

As gold mining is still relatively new in the state, there is a need to revise and enhance these measures to maximise revenue generation.

Bukit Matri currently stands as the sole mining site in Sabah, covering an area of over 300 hectares. Since its establishment in 2018, the site has witnessed the sale of 2,300kg of gold bars, valued at more than RM23.9 million.

Sabah has refrained from imposing sales tax or export duties on gold brought from the state to Peninsula Malaysia, as the gold is primarily sold domestically.

Regarding the recent seizure of 110kg of gold bars in Tawau, Julita assured that the state did not incur any losses.

After thorough verification by authorities, it was determined that no breach of laws had occurred, and the gold bars were returned to the individuals who possessed them.

To further enhance revenue collection and improve the gold mining and melting processes, Sabah 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. 

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has taken several measures, such as appointing the Land and Surveys Department Director to oversee mineral and mining operations, establishing an integrated steering committee, enforcing existing laws, and reviewing contracts, agreements, acts, ordinances, and enactments related to royalties.

The state is also considering the implementation of a sales tax on gold exported from Sabah.

Julita emphasised the State’s commitment to ensuring the sustainability of the industry and protecting the environment. 

Stricter enforcement of laws, increased stringency, and awareness of sustainability are among the initiatives being considered. 

Furthermore, Sabah aims to leverage science and technology to improve mining processes, focusing on enhancing both quality and quantity while minimizing environmental impact.

The SAPP’s queries have shed light on the gold mining dispute in Tawau, prompting the State Government to address the concerns and work towards a fair resolution.

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