You Are Here


×
Miners press on despite poor gold market conditions

KUALA LUMPUR: While pundits turn bearish on gold, Malaysian and foreign miners are undeterred, pushing ahead with exploration and production.

The industry is drawing renewed interest from investors after languishing for years. Money poured into exploration has yielded the country’s biggest gold find in recent times in Jugan Hill, Bau, Sarawak with a deposit of 3.3 million ounces by Toronto-listed Besra Gold Inc.

“Total resources in Bau are currently at 3.3 million ounces of gold (measured, indicated and inferred),” Steve Wilson, Besra’s corporate communication director, tells FocusM in a reply to questions via email.

Asked whether 3.3 million ounces will make it the largest deposit in Malaysia, Wilson said “yes”.

Regionally, it is estimated to come in at 11th place. “We don’t have absolute figures available, but we think 11th in all of Asia,” says Wilson.

According to Lorax Environmental Services Ltd, Bau’s 3.3-million-ounce deposit is “mid-sized” in global terms.

“The largest mines are in excess of 10 million ounces and small ones are 0.5-0.2 million ounces,” said Ali Sahami, co-founder of Lorax, an environmental consulting company.

Besra, formerly Olympus Pacific Minerals Inc, is an international mining company engaged in the exploration, development and production of mineral properties in Southeast Asia.

Besra obtained an exploration licence in 2009 on 1,400 sq km of mining tenement spread across various regions in East Malaysia, with Central Bau, a 17,000-acre zone, as its main focus.

Gold production is expected to start by late 2015, subject to project financing being in place.

“We have resolved metallurgy, recovery, process, plant and licences and subject to project finance being in place, we expect to be producing by late 2015. Yes, production will be possible and viable and we are progressing with those plans,” Wilson adds.

Besra believes there is much more to be discovered at Bau, with significant expansion of the resource after further exploration.

“Bau will be a long-term, multi-mine project that could be in operation for more than 20 years, if conditions remain favourable,” says Wilson.

Unlike Indonesia and the Philippines, there is not much large-scale metal mining in Malaysia to date, says Lorax’s Sahami.

Indonesia is home to the Grasberg Mine, the world’s largest, with an estimated consolidated, recoverable proven and probable reserves of 32.5 million ounces in Papua province. The mine is owned by Arizona-based Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc.

“Undoubtedly there is mineral potential in that country (Malaysia), but mining investment always depends more on clear laws and regulations and sanctity of contracts,” says Sahami.

“This is because mining involves large investments and a long period between exploration and production (typically 10 years or more for metal mining). So whether large-scale metal mining will be a significant part of the economy will depend more on the government’s attitude to mining than the actual geological potential,” Sahami adds.

Besra finds the current laws and regulations in Sarawak “encouraging” for gold mining and supports the industry’s growth and investment from foreigners.

“When international investors make decisions on where to invest, local laws and regulations are critical deciding factors and East Malaysia is certainly competitive compared to other countries in the region,” says Besra’s Wilson.

Apart from Bau, he says there is mining potential elsewhere in the country.

“There are certainly some promising areas in northwestern central [Peninsula] Malaysia, some prospects in Sabah and some areas where we hold interests in Sarawak near the Indonesian border,” adds Wilson.

Besra holds an 85.61% controlling interest in Bau Goldfield with an agreement to increase this to 93.55% by September 2015. Its local partner is Gladioli Enterprises Sdn Bhd.

One of Malaysia’s leading gold miners, Peninsular Gold Ltd, believes there has been fresh interest in the country’s gold mining industry in recent years.

“I would say that the state of the gold mining industry in Malaysia is getting more active as new players are now emerging … the level of interest has increased,” Peninsular Gold’s chairman and chief executive Andrew Kam tells FocusM.

For full story, go to www.focusmalaysia.my, which also targets other Malaysian businesses.

Add Comment
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.


* fields are required.
All comments will be reviewed by site administrators and will be published after approval. Selected comments will also be featured in the Readers' comments section.

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
What code is in the image?
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Top stories
 
Teenagers marrying in haste and repenting at leisure
QUICK TAKE: Malaysian teenagers, some as young as 14, are jumping into marriage without thinking of...
Is DAP really different from BN parties?
COMMENT: There is certainly no doubt that the 48-year-old DAP has been making waves to consolidate...
Perhaps we should all just keep quiet!
QUICK TAKE: Sometimes you feel like it’s best to just keep your mouth shut and not say anything,...
Outspoken
 
BN is distracting us from the real issues
OUTSPOKEN: It is not too way off to say that we are living in a nation full of distraction. Here we...
Muslims are killing Muslims, so don’t blame non-Muslims
OUTSPOKEN: This situation is getting worse by the day. This can be attributed to the intolerant...
Is Umno leading the nation to a dead end?
OUTSPOKEN: As world crude oil dipped below US$60 per barrel on Dec 12, it not only wreaked global...
Hot topics
 
Finding life in the political wilderness
PETALING JAYA: Once a rising star in MCA, Datuk Lee Hwa Beng’s po­litical career spiralled out of...
When a pass in English is just not good enough
PETALING JAYA: Muhamad Shahabudin Md Elias, 24, is a mass communica­tion graduate. Hav­ing gone...
Business Targeted
 
Chowing down during Xmas and New Year
KUALA LUMPUR: It’s officially that time of the year, so what else but to feast? Jom makan!...
Build an inspiring personal brand
KUALA LUMPUR: Female empower­ment and breaking the glass ceiling are topics I have con­sistently...