Pesticides, not cyanide, cause of health woes

A man feeding fishes at a nearby river in Bukit Koman where there are plenty of fish.

RAUB - Staff at Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn Bhd (RAGM) in Bukit Koman here have dismissed allegations by some villagers that cyanide used in gold mining activities has caused rashes, eye irritation and coughs.

They believed that the problems suffered by the villagers could be due to fertiliser or pesticides used in their farming activities.

RAGM site supervisor Chai Kwe Yew, 50, said it was only a minority group in the village who had accused the gold extracting facility for polluting the environment and endangering human lives.

Chai said he was sad that the inaccurate information supplied by the villagers had prompted a response from environmental groups.

RAGM safety, health and environmental manager I. Gayathri said it was impossible for the plant to release such hazardous chemicals as the company had adopted stringent safety measures with the Department of Environment making monthly visits to the 120ha gold mine since it opened in February 2009.

"There are two gold mines in Sungai Koyan and Kuala Lipis but the residents there have never complained of any health problems," she said, adding that a huge pond near the gold mine is also home to thousands of healthy fish including, giant arapaimas.

Police, yesterday, intercepted 8,000 Himpunan Hijau rally participants from marching towards RAGM.

Those who disputed claims by rally participants point to the water quality of a nearby river with its abundance of fish.