On the golden trail
by Geryl Ogilvy Ruekeith, firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted on June 24, 2012, Sunday
KUCHING: The government has granted licences to three companies to prospect for gold in the state, revealed Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan.
But he did not disclose the sites or the commencement date. He only said the exploration would be “in new areas”.
“It is hoped that these ventures would yield positive results,” he said when officiating at the opening of the National Geoscience Conference 2012 (NGC 2012) here yesterday.
Among those present were permanent secretary of Resource Planning and Environment Ministry Datu Sudarsono Osman, Malaysian Minerals and Geoscience Department director-general Dato Yunus Abdul Razak, state Minerals and Geoscience director Alexander Unya Ambun and Malaysian Geology Association president Prof Dr Joy Jacqueline Pereira.
On the recent Cabinet approval of the Second National Mineral Policy, Awang Tengah, who is also Public Utilities Minister and Industrial Development Minister, said the state’s approval for gold exploration activities was in line with its revised policy.
“The state has discussed the policy. We revised the first policy to improve on its regulations that would contribute to the nation’s economic development.”
He stressed that quarry and mining activities must be conducted in a safe and people-friendly environment to ensure the state’s beautiful natural flora and fauna were not affected.
On plans to turn Kuching delta into a Global Geopark Network under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) programme, Awang Tengah said the state government would support the initiative.
He added that Kuching delta areas possessed the required components for such recognition He mentioned Santubong National Park – which is rich in flora and fauna, biodiversity and rock formation – as one of the attractions. Also cited were Matang Wildlife Sanctuary and Semenggok Wildlife Sanctuary.
Awang Tengah also talked about the gold mining industry in Bau.
“Not only that we are rich in flora and fauna and biodiversity, the state is also rich in cultural heritage. The effort to package all these as a geopark is very suitable.
“The recognition would give researchers and students opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and it will benefit the tourism sector.”
Pereira said the NGC 2012 theme ‘Geoscience in everyday life’ was to highlight that geoscience provides the fundamental needs of society from seeking rocks and minerals that shelter the people to its contribution of ground water.
Geoscience knowledge reduces the risk of geological hazards such as landslide, sinkholes and land subsidence, among others.
Touching on historic gold mining activities in Bau, she said the area had excellent perspective on the geological and mining industry. This provided great potential to the Sarawak delta to be recognised as a global geopark. Coal mining in Mukah, on the hand, has good potential for extreme geo-tourism.
“This is something new that Sarawak can contribute to the world,” she opined.