Illegal gold mining in Mersing

June 16, 2009


There is an illegal gold mining operation on Lot #74 in Kampung Teluk Iskandar, which is three lots south of our home in Mersing, Johor.  

Spray of sea water to feed palong and tear down the earth

The lands are designated as agricultural and not approved for mining use.
Not only is the mining operation violating land laws, but also, the operation is illegally infringing on beach reserve. 
We have observed that an illegal channel has been dug into the sea as a source of water for the mining operation.  As a result the ocean is being used as a dumping ground for mercury tainted discharge water.

Illegal channel dug into beach reserve

The owner of the mining operation, Encik Fitri, is also conducting two other illegal mines at Kampung Paya Tunggal
These illegal mining operations are not small scale, but done with tractors, trucks and a palong (sluice box). 
Furthermore, the land is being mined at a depth of over six feet, which violates the land code laws of the  Pejabat Tanah Daerah (PTD) / Land Office. Similar to Lot #74, these two operations infringe on river land reserve, and release mercury tainted discharge water into the river.

Large operation with tractor

The most troubling aspect of the mining operation is its use of mercury, or raksa, which is extremely poisonous to children and pregnant women.  Measurement of the mercury level from the palong is 16 times the normal acceptable level.  Mercury waste does not decompose.  It leaks into the ocean, to be consumed by fish, and ultimately consumed by people of this community.

Palong or Sluice Box

Toxic discharge with mercury into the sea

As we all know, this community consumes a diet of predominantly of fish and seafood, as evidenced by the thriving fish and seafood market in the town of Mersing.  Encik Filtri’s illegal mining operation is polluting our water and food supply, endangering our young and unborn children.  The effects of mercury include loss of vision, brain damage, deformity and loss of motor control.  Can we afford to do nothing and risk the future of the children of Mersing ?

fish market in Mersing

The list of negative impacts is overwhelming:

  • Illegal mining operation without permits
    • Operations on three plots: one plot in Kampung Teluk Iskandar; two plots in Kampung Paya Tinggal
    • These lands are designated for agricultural use only; mining on them violates the land use code 
    • The miners are using jets of air masin laut (sea water) to feed the palong and the jets will destroy the land for future agricultural use

  • The mining operations are done illegally on beach and river reserve land
    • Mining in beach reserve at Kampung Teluk Iskandar
    • Mining in river reserve in Kampung Paya Tunggal
    • Illegal channel dug in the sea rocks to feed water for the palong

  • Mining depths are reported at greater than six feet
    • Johor Menteri Besar had allowed personal gold mining but Encik Fitri’s operations are large scale with tractors, trucks and palong (sluice box)
    • Mining at depths greater than 6 feet requires a license

  • Hiring of illegal foreign workers

  • Illegal discharge of highly polluted runoff water into food and water supply
    • Mercury measurement from palong water sample shows 16 times the normal allowable levels of mercury. Lab report available.
    • Mercury pollutes our local food and water supply by seeping into rivers, oceans, and well water 
    • Mercury runoff is a health and safety hazard, with the potential of causing brain damage, deformity, and loss of motor control

In summary, Encik Fitri is illegally mining at depths of greater than six feet, as well as discharging mercury tainted water into our food and water supply.  The mining violates Jabatan Parit dan Saliran's (JPS's)  beach and river reserve as well as PTD's agricultural land use designation of the plots.


In the interest of protecting our community, I urge the various goverment departments to act swiftly before people are
harmed by the poisons of the mines in our water and food supply.


Land excavation deeper than 6 feet


  1. Map of mining location
  2. Videos
  3. Images
  4. Al Jazeera report and links