Bukit Ibam Mine in History
In Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 11th August 1961, the Straits Times reported that
the Pahang State Government is expected to receive royalties of not less than $22 million in the first five years when the Rompin Mining Co., Ltd., goes into production at Bukit Ibam about May next year.
The Rompin mine, situated on 770ft. hill is estimated to produce 1,000,000 tons of the high grade iron ore in its first year, increasing to 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 tons a year.
It will be one of the biggest iron mines in South-East Asia, employing about 2,000 people, about 80 per cent of them Malays.
It is also the largest development by a commercial company in the Federation since independence.
Mr. J.C. McHugh, managing director of the company, told the Straits Times that he cost of getting the mine into operation will exceed $70 million, excluding the cost of marine craft which will bring the total cost to more than $90 million.
The opening of the mine in 1962 will fulfill seven years of exploratory and geological research. It necessitates building a railway through 60 miles of virgin jungle from the mouth at the Rompin River in the southern part of the State.
The mine is situated about 120 miles up the winding, twisting river, but the company is constructing a railway line which cuts the distance to about 60 miles.
One thousand workers are now pushing the rail lines through, blasting rocks and trees and building bridges over swamps and tributaries of the Rompin River.
They are expected to take up to November to complete the remaining distance of about seven miles to link the mine to the costal loading terminal.
Long before the first sleeper was laid for the railway, the company had spent millions of dollars prospecting the jungle-clad heart of Pahang.
Mr. McHugh said that the area at Bukit Ibam is believed to have about 40 million tons of iron ore with 18 million tons of high grade ore proven in the 3,000-acre mining lease area.
The mining lease from the Pahang Government is for 21 years. The company also holds prospecting rights for about 4,000 acre of surrounding land.
From the mine site, the ore will be railroaded to the company’s shipping installation at the mouth of the river with its 200-acre stockpile area, port facilities and accommodation, school and hospital.
Lighters will take the ore four miles out to the sea to be loaded on to ships for Japan.
Mr. McHugh said that some of the 25 ocean-going lighters, each of 300 tons, and eight tugboats being built in Hong Kong for use by the stevedoring company have been completed.
In the rail-laying operation, the company is using a second-hand 70 ton Malayan Railway locomotive and two 30-tonners.
For 1,000 horsepower Japanese Hitachi diesel electric locomotive and ore wagons have been ordered for use when the mine begins operations. The first locomotives and wagons are expected this month.
The rail lines will cross about 200 bridges, totaling 14,000 ft over swamps and streams. The chief engineer in charge of the whole operation is Mr. G.M. Wheat, former head of the Malayan Railway.
Equipment in use building the railway, including that from Britain and the United States, has cost about $11 million. Much of it will later be used in mining.
The company will build a Malay and an English school for the workers’children a modern hospital and other facilities.
The mine, though surrounded by some of the thickest jungles in Malaya, will not be isolated. The Government has installed a VHF telephone link with the Federation telephone system.
Also being built, under the Government rural development plan but which will greatly benefit the mine and its staff is a road from Endau to Kuala Rompin, connecting with the existing road to Singapore.
This will obviate an inconvenient and expensive sea journey, as at present, where all plant machinery and supplies have to be brought in to Rompin by sea from Singapore.
Mr. McHugh praised the Federation and Pahang Government for their co-operation.
“We have had to discuss many things with many departments and have found them all anxious to help us in this tremendous development, which is the biggest in Pahang’s economic history.” he said.
Many of the engineers, local technicians and artisans will come to Rompin mine from the Eastern Mining and Metal Co. mine in Dungun as that mine’s resources diminish. At present the Dungun mine, in Terengganu, is the biggest in the country.
Mr. McHugh said that the support and experience of Eastern Mining, which ships about three million tons of iron-ore a year, has been a major factor in the development of Rompin.