This letter was published on Monday, 22nd October 2001 in the Sun Newspaper
Management errors caused accidents at quarries
I refer to the report Checks at 60 quarries in The Sun on Sept 18.
As the Director for Mines, Perak, from June 1992 until the dissolution of the
Department of Mines, I am qualified to comment on the matters stated in the
I was entrusted by the State Government to administer The Perak
Quarry Rules (1992) as gazetted, and was the Land Administrator for the purpose.
The Department of Mines Perak exercised strict and diligent control over quarry
operations in the state. Proper guidelines and technical standards were drawn up
and enforced by the department.
To note one example, ground vibrations were not allowed to exceed
3.5mm per second in sensitive areas. This standard is stricter than in many
Circulars and directives were issued to quarry operators,
shotfirers and consultants on the technical and operational aspects of
Operators never had a free hand. Blasting operations were
monitored by the department's staff with sophisticated electronic equipment.
However, with regards to several incidents, I wish to point out
In a dialogue between the Department of Minerals and Geoscience
with quarry operators on May 18, operators were told to carry out "big" blasts.
Soon after, the incident where a hill collapsed during blasting operations at Keramat Pulai occurred.
The Department of Mines has always strictly controlled when
blasting should occur. No blasting is allowed on Fridays, and the third
Saturdays of each month. And no blasting is allowed after 2pm.
The recent incident at Kanthan where flying rocks hit some houses happened on a
Saturday afternoon. This is because the Department of Minerals and Geoscience
had allowed blasting on Fridays and Saturdays. I stress here that this incident
would never have happened under the control of Department of Mines.
The Department of Minerals and Geoscience recently issued an
instruction circular which among others, stated that warning signs must be used.
However, this circular is a pale shadow of the instructions already issued by
the Department of Mines which were precise and comprehensive.
Limestone hills where the majority of quarries operate in Perak
are usually cracked and have cavities. Also, the geological planes and fault
lines make blasting operations difficult. However, with proper guidance and
control, there should be no difficulty with such blasting.
Take for instance the blasting of the limestone hill next to
Taman Chandan Desa. The operation was supervised by the Department of Mines with
very successful results.
All that I have stated above are facts. The Department of
Minerals and Geoscience should look at what was previously done, rather that
make statements without knowing the real facts.
The standard that operators supposedly cannot meet have not been
made known to the industry. It is not surprising that the Department of Minerals
and Geoscience has chosen not to disclose them.
It would be much better if those in charge of the blasting
operations act in a more transparent manner. It would also be wise for them not
to state something without first knowing the true facts involved.
Datuk Abdul Rahman Rafek