A fellow blogger emailed me requesting that we, bloggers, should help carry their side of the story in our blog to make more people aware of the events that have been haunting the residents and endangering their lives. But it doesn't stop there. Very soon, this potential hazard has every chance spillover into Selangor once The Pahang-Selangor Inter-State Raw Water Transfer Project is completed.
The Story Unfolds Here...
Raub is a peaceful town blessed with nature's wealth. Due to recent emergence of Cyanide, the valley has deeply submerged into a terrifying state. Raub is the place where we live and grow up. Our home and lives are confine here in this little valley. There is no reason for us to move to other places. Mining processing facilities are located just two kilometres away from residential area. Just across the street to be exact and why is the Pahang Mineral and Geoscience Department still approving the use this lethal chemical, Cyanide, to extract the gold?
Bukit Koman is a small and old village , located inside Raub county , consists of approximately four hundred families with a total of close to 3000 residents. It is situated right in the middle of the gold mining area and is indeed a 'gold plated’ village.
The mining activity started in 1898, but ceased operation in 1963. During this period, the mine was fully controlled by the Australian. In 1970, thousands of hectares of mining land had been sold and transfered to Gan Mun Wah group. After purchasing the land, the group cultivated most of the land with palm oil, reserving two plots totaling 600 hectares, for mining purposes. In the 1980’s, the group rented out the reserved mining land to Chinese miners to mine for gold through the gravity separation approach. And in the year 1990, the company took back the land and set up a company to mine the gold on their own.
Andrew Kam, the son of GMW founder, set up Peninsular Gold Limited company, which is listed in London Exchange, and wholly own Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn. Bhd., is fully responsible for the mining activity. The other shareholders including Pahang royal Princess, Tengku Puteri Seri Lela Manja and her ex-husband Mohd Moiz. Pahang Development Board (Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Pahang) is also one of their partners.
Chronology of Events
21st August 2006
Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn. Bhd. successfully obtained approval from Pahang Mineral and Geoscience Department to use Cyanide in the mining area inside Bukit Koman.
4th December 2006
After the villagers got to know the lethalness and impact of the Cyanide, the villagers formed a 'Objection of Cyanide use in Gold Mining in Bukit Koman' committee, This commitee have been aggressively sending the SOS signal to all people for help, gathering help to start the bitter war against Cyanide to save the villagers. At the same time, a petition was launched and 10 thousands signatures were collected.
2nd March 2007
Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob officiate the break soil ceremony of the Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn. Bhd. Carbon-In Leach factory. VIP of the event including Pahang Princess ex-husband Mohd. Moiz and Raub Parliament YB Dato Dr. Ng Yen Yen.
The committee submitted letter to Prime Minister YAB Dato Abdullah Badawi, Minister of Ministry of Energy, Water and Communication YB Dato Lim Kim Aik and President of MCA, YB Dato Wong Ka Ting and request for attention in this matter, meet the committee for further discussion as well as presenting the memorandum including the signed petition of 10 thousands signatures. The memorandum also submitted to Raub Parliament YB Dato Dr Ng Yan Yan, Pahang MCA State Chief, YB Dato Chan Kong Choy, Chief of MCA Youth cum Bentong Parliament YB Dato Leow Chong Lai. But no respond was obtained.
Committee meet with President of Friends of the Earth Malaysia, Meena Raman in Penang for legal assistance.
21st March 2008
Committee file a law suit with high court of Kuala Lumpur, requesting the court revert the approval of Pahang Mineral and Geoscience Department to Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn. Bhd. to use Cyanide in the process of mining of gold in Bukit Koman. Malaysia Ministry of Environmental has been named first defendant and Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn. Bhd. as second defendant.
Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn. Bhd. started the mining process with Cyanide. Residents started to notice stinging smell. Since then, many residents started to experience insomnia, vomiting, dizziness and other abnormal symptoms. The total number of report of abnormal symptoms has rose to more than 200 cases.
8th March 2009
Hundreds of villagers attended the Anti Cyanide Gathering and put up banner to reflect their determination to say NO to Cyanide. Some of the villagers opt to migrate away from Bukit Koman to stay away from this lethal village.
23rd March 2009
Pahang Exco Dato Ho Kee Mum published the report after cursory investigation by department of environment, saying no smell of Cyanide was detected.
25th March 2009
Committee and ADUN Raub, Mr. Chong Shao Aun reported the event to Anti Corruption, requesting them to interfere with the process of gold mining using Cyanide of the mining company.
Properties and Characteritics of Sodium Cyanide (NaCN)
Physical State; Appearance
- White, hygroscopic crystalline powder, with characteristic odour. Odourless when dry.
- Cyanide solutions readily bond with gold, silver and other metals
- Usually stored and transported as a solid. It is stable when dry.
- Dissolve in water to produce toxic cyanide gas. HCN (Hydrogen Cyanide)
- Cyanide may also result in deforestation, soil erosion, land slides, and contamination of underground water.One teaspoon of a 2% solution can kill a person.
- The substance decomposes rapidly on contact with acids, and slowly on contact with water, moisture or carbon dioxide producing hydrogen cyanide
- Cyanide is a powerful solvent that breaks down heavy metals – such as mercury, cadmium, chromium, and lead – that end up as waste products that need to be dumped.
- One teaspoon of a 2% solution can kill a person.
- Cyanide is highly toxic, rapidly acting, potentially deadly chemical
- The substance can be absorbed into the body by inhalation, through the skin and by ingestion.
- Prevents the cells of the body from using oxygen. When this happens, the cells die.
- Causea effect on the cellular respiration, resulting in convulsions and unconsciousness
- More harmful to the heart and brain than to other organs because the heart and brain use a lot of oxygen.
- 20ppm/ per cubic meter in air (mg/m3)
- Cyanide is the killing agent used in gas chambers.
- When the density of HCN is 20 ppm, after few hours human will experience symptoms of poison dead
- Total Cyanide composition on surface water must not be more then 0.2mg/L, when the Cyanide composition is more than 0.5mg/L, 20% of the fish will be dead in two hours, all fish will be dead in 24 hours.
- Notorious chemical weapons used in Second World War, has been widely used by Nazi in the detention facilities and channel the gas to chamber which is a counterfeit bath room. The weapon has kill millions of Jews.
- Has been considered potential terrorist weapon.
- Potassium Cyanide has been used in mercy killing. Subject will be dead in 10 seconds after the drug has been injected or taken via oral.
In a letter replying to Friend to Earth Malaysia by Pahang Mineral and Geoscience Department, En. Zulkifly Abu Bakar confirmed that the department has issued letter of approval on 21st of August, allowing the mining company using Cyanide in their mining process. This letter of approval is based on 10th clause of 1994 Mineral Development act. The duration is 1 year. The company can renew the approval after 1 year.
According to the reply, the mining company will use concentration of 350mg/L Cyanide solution to extract gold from the ore. Gold will be reclaimed via electrolysis. The solution in the vats will be recycled. Only purified water will be discharged to abandoned pond left over from previous mining activity.
The reply also pointed out that “once discharged to the abandoned pond, the pond water will contain approximately 0.008% of Cyanide. In the present of sunlight, the Cyanide percentage in the water will be less and less and become totally degraded. The water of the abandon pond will be recycled for subsequent extraction process.”
The reply again pointed out “Cyanide extraction has been widely use in mining industry, including developed country”
Pahang Minerals And Geoscience Department Versus FactsA: Purified water will be channeled to the abandoned lake of previous mining activity. The abandoned lake contains approximately 0.008% Cyanide.
F: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), composition in natural water should be controlled below 0.2 ppm. The Cyanide discharged to abandoned lake is 80ppm, which has exceeded the safe level over 400 times!
A: Cyanide can breaks down in the presence of sunlight.
F: 1. In-order to breakdown into other substances, sufficient sunlight and oxygen in the air are needed. Unfortunately, presence of sunlight is always absence due to reasons such as overcast and haze, whereby the process of gold extraction is running 24 hours in 365 days. Cyanide content discharged into pond will accumulate day after day.
2. Both cyanide and acid-mine drainage can find their way into streams and rivers through accidental spills, discharges, dam overflows, and water runoff. It can also seep into groundwater. Leftover cyanide in very small concentrations can harm birds and other wildlife that drink mine pond wastewater.
3. Purified water container Cyanide discharged from the plan contains NH3-N. High concentration of this chemical will provide more nutrient to aquatic organism. This will in turn the increase production of algae which will in turn decrease the penetration of sunlight or visibility of the water. This will decrease the dissolve of oxygen in the water and directly threat the survivor of fish and other organism inside the water. The end result of this situation is that the water will be stink and form of ‘red tide’ or ‘algae bloom’.
4. According to the Mineral Policy Center, “mining and regulatory documents often state that cyanide in water rapidly breaks down in the presence of sunlight into largely harmless substances, such as carbon dioxide and nitrate or ammonia. However, cyanide also tends to react readily with many other chemical elements and is known to form, at a minimum, hundreds of different compounds.” Many of these breakdown compounds are generally less toxic than the original cyanide, but are still known to be toxic to aquatic organisms.
5. These breakdown compounds may persist in the environment for an unknown period of time, and there is evidence that some forms of these compounds can accumulate in fish and plant tissues.
A: If managed properly, mining with Cyanide is absolutely safe
F: In case of any mismanage or neglection, the consequence will be fully transferred to all the innocent villages, furthermore, there is no any party dare enough to guarantee that no accident is going happened. We trade the life of thousands of villages for the profit of certain private organization does not sounds like logical and fair.
A: Operation of Cyanide is in a closed environment. Chances of leakage or contamination is neglectable
F: The above figure shown an open pit Carbon in Leach process. Content in the vat is mixture of crash ore and sodium cyanide, which the process will generate a very toxic gas, Hydrogen Cyanide. The gas will waft in the air.
Since February 2009, the air around the mining facilities is floated with stink chemical smell. Within a month, more than 200 abnormal symptom is reported. The quality of air has triggered the alarm to the people.
A: Mining facilities will bring more job opportunities to Raub
F: Most of the workers are foreign workers. According to the employed local people, after a period working in the mining facilities, there will be problem with the skin.
A: Water resources will not be contaminated
F: From year 1898 to year 1963, the mining company has dug seven interconnected mining well. These wells have depth ranging from 600 to 1200 feet, which has formed a network of underground water. Three of the wells are located right below the abandoned lake which the purified water containing Cyanide will be discharged. Furthermore, the Koman river, which runs across the mining will also poses great threats if leakage or contamination. Once that happened, the underground water would not be get away from it. (as figure show)
A: Gold Cyanidation (also known as the cyanide process or the MacArthur-Forrest process) are widely used even in developed countries.
F: Montana , The Czech Republic has banned the use of cyanide in mining, and both Turkey and Greece have made significant court rulings against issuing permits to mining interests whose projects propose the use of cyanide. The Mining Amendment (Cyanide Leaching) Bill 2000, which would prohibit ore processing by cyanide leaching in gold mining, was entered into the Parliament in New South Wales, Australia, in June 2000.
Accidents keep on occurring even in developed countries, how can we judge that the approval for their license is accurate?
A: The mining facilities is two meter away from the residential area, in fact only across the street from residential area
F: Any form of industry must have distance more the 5 km
The mining facilities and the adjuncture residential area, does not even have any buffer!
How the approval can be obtained by mining facilities which uses first grade poison material, Cyanide, to process which is only few meters away from residential area? In fact close to 1.5 tan of Cyanide is used daily inside the facilities.
Is the rules only applicable to certain people but exception can be applied to certain people?
A: Some of the villages and most of the people in Raub have been ignorant on the criticality of the issue. Some assume that this is the trick of someone who wanted to get to the top.
F: Protection of home was never a political or races or religious oriented. When the home is gone, health is gone and conscious is gone, who is in power is not relevant anymore.
A:Gold Cyanidation Process in Bukit Koman will never affect the village’s health and wealth.
F: Exposure to high levels of cyanide harms the brain and heart, and may cause coma and death.
Exposure to lower levels may result in breathing difficulties, heart pains, vomiting, blood changes, headaches, and enlargement of the thyroid gland, redness and pain to the skin.
Exposure to very low concentration of cyanide may cause cancer in people or animals. Can cause skin problem.
Enviromental disaster caused by cyanide mining
Colorado, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, California, South Dakota, South Carolina, Romania, Guyana, Canada, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Bulgarian, Resulting in massive fish kills and contaminated drinking water; and, no matter what processing method is used at the mine site, we cannot risk the release of even tiny amounts of cyanide into our waterways and fisheries.
Cyanide Mining Disasters
1. Zortman-Landusky Mine, Montana, 1982: Fifty-two thousand gallons of cyanide solution poison the drainage that supplies fresh drinking water for the town of Zortman. A mine employee discovered the accident when he noticed the smell of cyanide in his tap water at home.
2. Summitville Mine, Colorado, 1992: Summitville gold mine was responsible for contaminating 17 miles of the Alamosa River with cyanide and other contaminants.
3. Kumtor Gold Mine, Kyrgyzstan, central Asia, 1998: A truck carrying 2 tons of sodium cyanide crashed into the Barskoon River. Two thousand six hundred poison cases and 4 deaths were reported in the aftermath.
4. Aural Gold Plant, Romania, Eastern Europe, 2000: A cyanide-laden tailings spill sent a toxic slug of cyanide and metals rolling down the Tisza River and into the Danube, killing aquatic wildlife and poisoning water supplies as far as 250 miles downriver.
5. In May 1998, six to seven tons of cyanide-laced tailings spilled from the Homestake Mine into Whitewood Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota, resulting in a substantial fish kill.
6. The Dakota Mining Company bought the land from the federal government for just $5 per acre (under the General Mining Law of 1872), extracted about $69 million worth of gold over ten years, then filed for bankruptcy in 1998, leaving taxpayers with an estimated $40 million cleanup bill.
7. Before a voter initiative banned the use of cyanide in open pit, cyanide-leach mining in November 1998, Montana landowners downstream of the Golden Sunlight mine were forced to sell their property to Placer Dome Corporation after their drinking water was contaminated with cyanide.
8. The Kendall mine near Lewistown, Montana, has contaminated neighbors’ streams with toxic mine waste since 1995. Reclamation efforts at the mine have also depleted water supplies downstream from the company. Eight neighboring landowners have filed water rights complaints against the mining company.
9. The Golden Maple mine near Lewistown, Montana, was ordered to provide a neighboring rancher with an alternate water supply for both domestic and stock water needs after 77,000 gallons of cyanide contaminated the neighbor’s groundwater.
10. In a 1997 lawsuit settlement against Pegasus Gold, the company agreed to spend $34 million to study environmental damage to the groundwater surrounding the Zortman/Landusky mine, to construct an additional water treatment plant, to conduct a public health study, and other measures.
11. 1995 Omai Guyana Collapse of tailings dam.
12. 2000 Baia Mare Romania Collapse of tailings dam.
13. 2000 Tolukuma Papua New Guinea Helicopter dropped crate into rainforest.
The question now is: Should Our Government Expose Us To Such Mining Method?
Help Them By Signing The 'Say No To Cyanide' Petition Here At http://www.petitiononline.com/cyanide/petition.html