Shafie assures silica mining on island will have minimal environmental impact

Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal says an environmental impact assessment was done for the project.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal has given an assurance that a silica mining operation on an island off the northern district of Kudat will not have any serious impact on the environment.

He said Pulau Balambangan was an island isolated from big settlements and that any adverse impact will be minimal.

“Will it have a serious impact in terms of pollution or destruction of the environment? I don’t think so,” he told reporters at his office at the Sabah Administrative Complex here today.

Earlier, Shafie witnessed the signing of an agreement on shareholding between Yayasan Sabah Group (YSG) Silica Sdn Bhd and Aura Avenue Sdn Bhd for the Balambangan Island Silica Sand Project.

The venture sees YSG Silica Sdn Bhd and Aura Avenue Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Sarawak-based KTS Group, entering into a 60:40 shareholding agreement.

YSG Silica will provide the raw material while Aura Avenue will do the extraction and production of silica.

Asked whether an environmental impact assessment report had been done for the project, he simply replied, “Done.”

In August, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Malaysia) had expressed concern over the mining proposal as it is located within the biodiversity-rich area of the Tun Mustapha Marine Park, the country’s largest marine park, and rich coral reefs in the surrounding seas.

Shafie said the mining operation had started and that Aura Avenue was now waiting for the arrival of the machinery to start the extraction.

“Silica has a demand in the international market and having started this, the mining operation would be able to supplement the state’s revenue,” he said.