Canadian ‘Green’ Mining Plans For Sarawak!

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Sarawak has the potential to tap into the mineral mining industry as it can bring more income to the state, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said a study is being conducted to broaden the state’s mining sector, with a team led by Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan sent to Canada to learn about mineral exploration, management, and sustainable practices.

“Canada is one of the top countries in the world in terms of mineral management, exploration, and where the mining does not affect the environment, and that they are able to rehabilitate the area after mining.

“The study also involves the laws applied for mineral mining; that’s why I’ve also sent the Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali and the State Attorney-General to learn on that,” he said, adding he is awaiting the report on the visit.

Another day, another announcement by the Sarawak state ‘premier’, relating to yet another planned deal with foreign companies to exploit the Land of the Hornbills.

This time it is an unnamed Canadian outfit with a proposal to conduct ‘green’ mining of an undisclosed nature in an unidentified area, following an unpublished study.

So, as per usual, we have the level of transparency, due diligence and consultation with native landowners that the allegedly democratic state has become very well used to – i.e. none.

Ruthless entrepreneurs across the globe must by now have caught the message that you can turn up in Petra Jaya any time with a plan to tear up rivers, pitch for petroleum, dig mines, industrialise forests, set up a casino chain, build tramlines to nowhere …. and, as long as you can appeal to a handful of politicians (through means that are undisclosed) then game on.

All the tiresome due diligence of responsible governance, such as proper consultation, the evaluation of real benefits to local people, scientific studies by real scientists and the full scope of transparent governance simply appears not to apply to the autonomous ‘big boys’ from GPS.

They just do things on the fly instead.  In this case we learn that a delegation is already in progress, headed up by that well known scientist and civil engineer Awang Tengah, looking at how ‘green mining’ is conducted by those chaps from Canada.

As part of the jolly junket Mr Tengah has been taken around the pleasant sights of a 200 year old Canadian lime quarry, which has for the last hundred years been converted into an attractive garden space which people these days like to visit.

All very nice, but what has this to do with the massive destructive power of modern mining, potentially in the middle of the decimated Borneo Jungle, one must surely ask?

The answer is that nobody knows because there has been no disclosure as to which company is conducting this enterprise and taking Awang Tengah on this latest of what must add up to dozens of foreign visits just this year.

We don’t know what is to be mined or where, let alone how – garden or no garden in a hundred years time.  It would be laughable if not so sadly outrageous.

Abang Jo, Tengah, Fadillah Yusof and their cronies have dispensed with all forms of scrutiny and hold court to this and that proposal, as if the lands of Sarawak were their very own play-set to pick and choose the most profitable ways to strip the public resources they are supposed to be protecting.

Whilst native communities remain dirt poor in this high income state, more and more projects are announced, which year after year fail to deliver more than cheap bribes to local headmen as community forests, community rivers and wildlife are destroyed.

And, always, those announcements in the paper, claiming statistics of alleged achievements never substantiated by public data.

Just this week it was announced that  ‘Sarawak has planted 23 million ‘trees’ and that ‘461 km including 82 bridges’  of logging roads have just been repaired.  Yet, as people have rightly complained, where is the evidence available to confirm what trees or which bridges? And who is ever empowered to scrutinise such plans on behalf of the public?

(Listen to Radio Free Sarawak. where yesterday one transport operator in Baram complained that he has not seen any logging road repair projects in progress in his region, whilst just a week ago, a logging road in his village collapsed)

Sarawak is not a toy and it needs proper governance. The people deserve due diligence, project transparency and proper consultation.

Moreover, they need to receive the benefits of all that has been extracted over the last 50 years of government by the same set of wealthy families without further waiting on promises of ‘future development’ from projects such as these alleged ‘green’ mining, ‘green’ hydropower, ‘green’ plantations, promised time and again without clarity or detail.

The distribution of existing wealth should begin now, before another mine or dam or oil well or construction project or plantation is granted – given so much money has already been made and the state coffers are already bursting with royalties and federal grants.

As for Canadian mining firms? Leave them to deal with the multiple ongoing protests and enquiries that are currently underway into the alleged pollution in the country thanks to none other than mining!

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