Sunday, April 29, 2007

Plan to turn last tin dredge into tourist draw

IPOH: A tin dredge left idle in Tanjung Tualang, about 40km from here, will be given a facelift to bring it into the mainstream of Perak tourism.

Said to be the only one of its type left in Malaysia, there are plans to bring visitors there for a taste of the glory days when the Kinta Valley was the world’s richest tin producer.

Mining consultant company Osborne & Chappel plans to fence up the premises and redevelop the site into an exciting tourist destination.

“Once we sign the official agreement with the state government this year, we will engage engineers to survey the dredge to determine whether it is safe for visitors to go in,” said Steven Ng, a manager and spokesman of the company.

To get a facelift: There are plans to spruce up this tin dredge, sited in a man-made lake in Tanjung Tualang, and open the interior for guided tours.
“If it is safe, we can clean up the place and show visitors how the tin dredge works, moves and draws in the tin-bearing soil in manganese steel buckets,” he said.

Ng added that the dredge, weighing 4,500 tonnes, is one of the last great reminders of the time when the Kinta Valley was the world’s richest tin producing area.

Built in 1938 by W.F. Payne & Sons for Pernas Chartered Management Sdn Bhd, the dredge had scoured for tin ore in the Kinta Valley for 44 years.

The state government had reportedly spent about RM600,000 to develop facilities there some time back but the site had, nonetheless, fallen into a state of neglect.

The dredge, with the words T.T. No. 5 on it, used to belong to Southern Malayan Tin Dredging (M) Sdn Bhd.

Operations stopped in 1983 due to the collapse of the tin mining industry and the subsequent downward spiral of tin prices.

Ng said that among the many artefacts still intact on the dredge were the 155 manganese steel buckets, documents from the dredge master’s control room, a giant crane, power generators and the oscillating screen.

He added that there was also a plan to open a museum there, where he would display his private collection of dulangs (trays) used to sift for tin ore, wooden buckets, straw hats and numerous old photographs of the mining industry.

“It should be an interesting tour for schoolchildren and foreign tourists, especially since this is the last tin dredge left intact in Malaysia.

“Many young people forget that without the tin ore our forefathers had mined in the old days, our nation would not be enjoying much of the prosperity we have today,” Ng said.

Source : STAR
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