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> 78pct Bukit Koman folk have 'cyanide-related' ailm

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TSjoe_mamak
post Jun 21 2012, 10:19 PM, updated 11y ago

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Malaysiakini via http://my.news.yahoo.com/78pct-bukit-koman...-050619821.html

78pct Bukit Koman folk have 'cyanide-related' ailments

A recent survey done by Bukit Koman villagers revealed that 78.1 percent of the residents in surrounding areas were suffering health problems, which is believed to be related to cyanide used in local gold mine.

Topping the list was skin itchiness and rashes (50.1 percent), followed by eyesores/itchiness/dimness (43.9 percent), dizziness/headache (35 percent), fatigue (34.5 percent) and cough (33.4 percent).

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The survey was carried out by the Bukit Koman action committee against the use of cyanide in gold mining on May 19 and 20. The group interviewed 383 residents house by house in Bukit Koman and surrounding areas within a 1km radius.

It also revealed that the figures were higher among the residents who stay in Bukit Koman New Village, where 84.8 percent of the villagers said they have suffered at least one health problem, while 57.2 percent said their health conditions worsened after 2009, when the gold mine started operations.

Residents of the Bukit Koman New Village had for a long time alleged that cyanide, which is used in the nearby mine, had led to a range of skin, eye, and respiratory ailments .

This is the first time they have carried out a survey scientifically to substantiate their claim.

Analysing the survey results, environmental and occupational safety consultant Tan Hui Chun said the figure of skin disease and coughing is “alarming” because it is 10 times higher than the normal rate, which is usually 5 percent.

Dermatologist Khim Pa, who has 26 years experience in practice, also added that the results clearly showed that there is “irritating” material on the air which caused the health problems.

“It is quite clear that more than 50 percent of people facing itchiness means that there is something in the air irritating to the eye and the skin... It is worse on the expose parts of the skin.

“If the same particles go into the lungs, they will cause coughing,” said the doctor during a press conference held yesterday at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

Bukit Koman action committee member Hue Shieh Lee said the committee will submit the survey results to relevant government authorities and hopes that the Minerals and Geoscience Department will revoke the licence of the gold mine to protect the residents’ health.

Panel hopes Yen Yen will contest in Raub

In a related development, Hue also commented on speculation that local parliamentarian Ng Yen Yen may transfer to a “safe seat” in the coming general election in view of the controversial issue.

She said the tourism minister, who was accused of being ignorant about the Bukit Koman issue, should stay in the Raub parliamentary seat and the villagers will give her “a taste of losing”.

“Ng ( right ) is our representative in parliament, she should have listened to our voice and talked about the Bukit Koman issue. But unfortunately, she has always said this is a political issue, not a health issue.

“We are hoping that she will come back to taste what is a loss. If the election is clean, I believe we can say good bye to her.”
Also present during the press conference were fellow committee member Chong Choy Yen and Bukit Koman villagers Hue Ah New, Woon Soon Fatt and his seven-year-old son Woon Chee Hua.

Ng had previously said that the mine is safe, and the state Local Government, Environment and Health Committee chairperson Hoh Khai Mun had recently told the state assembly that the water was cyanide-free , while the toxic chemical’s presence in the air is within limits.


TSjoe_mamak
post Jun 24 2012, 10:40 PM

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http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/...in-bukit-koman/

Cyanide poisoning in Bukit Koman?
Aneesa Alphonsus | June 23, 2012

Worried residents in gold-mining Bukit Koman village are demanding that the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment act immediately on a memorandum which they submitted in June 2009.

FEATURE

RAUB: A random health survey conducted in May 2012 on 338 Bukit Koman residents in Raub, Pahang, which incidentally is the parliamentary constituency of MCA’s Dr Ng Yen Yen, has shown-up disturbing and alarming results.

Some 50% of the residents suffered from skin diseases and eye irritations while another 40% experienced incessant coughing spells.
Also noted was the fact that there were eight cases of cancer among the respondents and that 35% of those interviewed suffered from such complaints as giddiness and lethargy.

The cause, the residents believe, is a revived gold mine barely a few hundred metres from the Bukit Koman village.
Bukit Koman is a small village of 300 families. Most of the villagers are descendants of miners from Raub, the town just next to the village, once known as the ‘gold capital’ of then Malaya.

With the resurgence of gold price, the Raub Australian Gold Mining (RAGM) company began a multi-million dollar operation using a new method to extract gold from tailings left behind from decades of conventional mining.
Herein lies the problem.

In 2008, the Bukit Koman Action Committee Against the Use of Cyanide in Mining of Gold collected 10,000 signatures voicing their objections to the usage of cyanide in the mining facility.

They also mounted a legal challenge to stop the operations in their request for a judicial review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
But their application was quashed last year.

Well-connected miners

Their many requests for a dialogue with the company and the government who had approved the mining facility have all fallen on deaf ears.
RAGM began its full operations using cyanide in February last year.

RAGM is a Malaysian company that is wholly owned by the Peninsular Gold Limited.

Peninsular Gold Ltd is listed in the London Stock Exchange and registered in Jersey, a semi-autonomous region dubiously known as a tax haven.

The company’s main shareholder is Andrew Kam whose father, Kam Mun Wah, is a veteran politician in MCA.

Its other shareholders are the Sultan of Pahang’s daughter, Puteri Seri Lela Manja and her ex-husband, Mohd Moiz.

RAGM had began a multi-million dollar operation using a new method known as ‘carbon-in-leach’ to extract gold from tailings left behind from decades of conventional mining.

This method has an 80% efficacy rate of extracting gold, a far more effective but expensive way compared to shaft mining. But it also carries more risk.

According to the project’s EIA, 400 tonnes of sodium cyanide, a highly toxic compound is used in the facility every year.

That translates to 1.5 tonnes a day.

Polluted water for Selangor?

What’s worrying the residents is that the facility is only 100 to 200 meters from their village and any spillage would be an environmental disaster.

Bukit Koman also sits in a water catchment area criss-crossed by many rivers that feed into the Klau Dam 13 km away.

In a couple of year’s time, this new dam will supply water to Selangor, the most populous state in Malaysia.

For two years now the committee has led an on-going campaign to stop the usage of cyanide in gold mining in their village.

But until now they’ve been unable to engage the authorities or RAGM.

“We, the residents living in Bukit Koman and Raub Pahang have been complaining of increasing incidences of skin diseases, eye irritation, coughing and general unease for the past three years after a nearby gold mine and gold extracting facility Raub Australian Gold Mining started operation in 2009.

“We also suffer the persistent and strong cyanide-like odour since the plant started operation in February 2009.

“Prior to this, no such odor has been detected,” they said in a press statement issued recently.

The committee suspects that the cyanide being used in RAGM facilities is not being properly handled and that their cyanide detoxification exercise is also not in place.

Their suspicions are based on repeated statements found in the Admission Document submitted to London Stock Exchange by Peninsular Gold Ltd that cyanide detoxification “may not be required for its operation in Malaysia particularly at the Bukit Koman site”.

‘Unreasonable’ risks to villagers

The group also said that the laboratory results of water samples collected by the Pahang Local Government, Environment and Health Committee had tested high for total cyanide concentration.

The test showed cyanide concentration at 0.03mg/litre which is well above the Recommended Permissible level of below 0.2ppm (Part Per Million) held by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency.

The committee had also engaged two internationally reputable environmental scientists, Dr. Mark Chernaik and Dr Glenn Miller who opined that “the operation of the proposed gold mine tailings processing facility would impose an unreasonable risk to the health and safety or persons residing in Bukit Koman”.

They also pointed out that the because of the lack of legitimate information “residents of Bukit Koman can reasonably apprehend that their groundwater and surface water supplies would be contaminated by the migration of toxic substances from effluent in the standing pond”.

Also affected is the air quality in and around Bukit Koman.

The residents are now demanding that their memorandum which was submitted to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment on 29 June 2009 be implemented immediately.

Among the demands are that the government take immediate action to address both the short and long term impact of the ongoing mining activities and an immediate stop-work order to be issued to RAGM.

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