KOTA KINABALU: The discovery of minerals resembling gold in one of the poorest districts in the country has caused a social media frenzy among Sabahans.
Netizens have been sharing photos in WhatsApp and Facebook of a hill in Kampung Boluoh Bongkol in the northern Pitas district and of rocks found there that contain what looks like gold.
A man who asked to be anonymous and who claimed to be among the first people to have made the discovery on Monday told FMT he and his co-workers noticed some rocks laced with gold while carrying out construction work on a road that passes by the hill.
“We have been working for over a month now to build Jalan Bongkol and this is the first time we have seen such rocks,” he said.
“I found a number of small nuggets of what looks like gold but we don’t know whether it is really gold.
“However, we are shocked that the discovery has gone viral on social media as none of us said anything to anyone.”
Geologist Felix Tongkul, who examined the photos, said the rocks could be pyrite, which is an iron sulfide mineral with a metallic lustre, or chalcopyrite, a copper iron sulfide mineral which, to the untrained eye, looks like gold.
The two minerals are known as fool’s gold and Tongkul said they were worth virtually nothing.
He added: “Pitas is geologically not the right place to find gold. But who knows? The minerals and geoscience department should first confirm whether this is gold or not.”
Kota Marudu police chief Zaironizal Ishak said he was aware of the discovery but added that his office had not received any report about it.
Gold or not, this discovery has triggered hope among the district’s residents.
Pitas is regarded as one of the most underdeveloped areas in the state. A local trader said residents had been asking for the upgrading or construction of basic infrastructure in the district for the last three decades.
He said there had been some improvements of late, like the construction of Jalan Bongkol, but he added that the district needed more.
“If the discovery of gold is true, it will be good for Pitas because all the attention will come here,” he said. “We hope it will not be covered up. The riches should be shared with the local people in the form of jobs or business opportunities.”
FMT is trying to reach the minerals and geoscience department for comments.
The 12th Malaysia Plan lists Pitas as among the country’s poorest districts, along with Tongod, Kota Marudu, Kota Belud, Beluran, Telupid, Nabawan and Kudat in Sabah, Pusa in Sarawak and Lojing in Kelantan.
By : Durie Rainer Fong and Willie Jude – FMT