Malaysia's Natural Resources
Malaysia has abundant natural resources in agriculture, forestry and minerals. In terms of agriculture, Malaysia is one of the top exporters of natural rubber and palm oil, which together with sawn logs and sawn timber, cocoa, pepper, pineapples and tobacco dominate the growth in the sector.
Tin and petroleum are the two main mineral resources that are of major significance in the Malaysian economy. Malaysia was once the world's largest producer of tin until the collapse of the tin market in the early 1980s. Petroleum and natural gas took over as the mainstays of the mineral extraction sector, as the tin production declined. Apart from tin, Malaysia is also a producer of copper, bauxite, gold and ilmenite.
Malaysia's Central Gold Belt hosts the majority of peninsular Malaysia's gold occurrences, including the Raub, Selinsing and Penjom gold mines in the state of Pahang. The Central Gold Belt runs up the spine of the Malaysian peninsula into Thailand and hosts a number of structurally controlled quartz veins in a sequence of old and folded slates.
A 2001 World Gold Council (WGC) report mentions Malaysia as one of the countries that could benefit significantly from an increase in gold mining activity. The WGC is an international organization formed by leading gold mining companies from around the world to monitor and analyze developments in the gold market and to encourage demand for gold.
Malaysia has long been a source of gold derived by artisanal miners. Serious artisanal gold mining by the local native artisanal gold miners began in the late 1890s. In Malaysia, gold is principally associated with gold belts or reefs as they are referred to in Malaysia. These gold belts were created along tensional fracture or shear zones along subduction zones.
The dilated zones were subsequently filled with hydrothermal quartz veins. These gold belts vary in length and in width from 10 km to 20 km extending along the entire backbone of Peninsular Malaysia and into Thailand, Cambodia and Laos to the north. Individual quartz veins within the gold belts vary from a few centimetres to 30 metres in width.
The individual veins consist primarily of quartz and can contain free gold, pyrite, arsenopyrite, stibnite, graphite and galena. Disseminated sulphides can occur in the wallrocks and that the auriferous mineralization can be quite extensive. Much of the gold in the Malaysian gold belt lies along lateral fracture or shear zones at the contacts of the upper series of metavolcanics and the lower series of metasediments within the quartz vein structures.
The deposit type for this area is the mesothermal lode gold deposit model seen worldwide, such as the Bendigo-Ballarat district in Australia, the Mother Lode district in California and the Meguma district in Canada. These deposits are often characterized by considerable vertical extent and high grade ore shoots. Another deposit that contains similarities would be the world class Ashanti Goldfields Mining Ltd. - Obuasi Mine in Ghana which is a vein gold deposit that has been operating for several hundred years.