CYANIDE POSER: Illnesses not caused by gold mining, says MB
The issue of Raub Australia Gold Mining (RAGM) activities in Bukit Koman, Raub, took centre stage at the Pahang assembly yesterday when a Barisan Nasional assemblyman said the alleged health problems in the area were not caused by environmental issues.
Instead, he said the project has been turned into a political agenda by the opposition.
Replying to a question from Leong Ngah Ngah (DAP-Triang), who asked whether cyanide used in gold mining activities at RAGM has resulted in skin disease, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob (BN-Pelangai) said the state government had been carrying out studies at the area with the assistance from experts since 2009 and said the claims were untrue.
"This (cyanide issue) is not related to the environment or health problems, but it has been blown out of proportion.
"The opposition is playing up the RAGM issue just like how they attacked the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) project in Gebeng here."
Earlier, State Health, Environment and Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Hoh Khai Mun took a swipe at the anti-cyanide committee for misleading and instilling fear among Bukit Koman residents.
He said in July, a Chinese daily had quoted the committee as saying that 78 per cent of the residents had been infected by diseases caused by cyanide.
"However, when the Health ministry conducted a study, only 24.6 per cent were found to be suffering from the illnesses."
To a question from Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad (BN-Padang Tengku) on the percentage of residents in Raub who suffered from illness since RAGM began operations in 2009, Hoh said various studies have been conducted over the last four years.
He said results showed that residents suffered from skin diseases (between 12 and 23 per cent), dizziness (between 20 and 60 per cent), eye irritations between (four and 12 per cent), and breathing difficulties (between seven and 13 per cent).
"Since the findings were different, the Health Ministry had decided to conduct a more systematic study to determine the actual health problems experienced by the residents.
"The study will also include the risk factor and also determine the cause for the problems which had been troubling the villagers. The ministry is currently preparing the survey forms, identifying the types of tests and also other requirements for the study."
He explained that the studies conducted by the Health Ministry revealed that 24.6 per cent of illness suffered by the residents were normal health problems and not caused by cyanide.
"The gold mine has been operating for only about five years but an elderly lady, who suffers from health problems in Bukit Koman, claimed she has been experiencing it for about 15 years."