4.1 Introduction
4.2 Geology In The Data Dictionary
4.3 Geological Features
4.3.1 Geological Rock Age
4.3.2 Lithology and Geological Formations
4.4 Mineral Distribution
4.5 Mining/Quarrying/Aggregates Dredging
4.6 Concessions/Operations
4.7 Oil/Gas Exploration
4.8 Information Issues
4.9 ICZM Issues Arising

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4.1  Introduction

Sabah covers an area of 73,600 km2 at the northern part of Borneo and possesses complex geological features. The complexity of the region’s geology is a result of the active tectonism from surrounding areas since Mesozoic39 (Table 23) era. Sabah has a wide coastal area and is surrounded by the South China Sea and the Palawan Thrust at the northwest, the Celebes Sea at the southeast and the Sulu Sea at the east. Inland, Sabah is bordered by Sarawak to the southwest and Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) on its southern part. Most parts of the coastal areas are flat and below the 30-meter contour, except areas such as the island of Banggi, Timbun Mata and the Darvel Bay area.

4.2  Geology In The Data Dictionary

Figure 19: Geology in the Data Dictionary

There is a need to present a geological profile of the coastal area in Sabah within the boundaries specified by the ICZM Task Force. This is vital because fields such as geological resources, hydrogeology and geo-techniques need to be covered in the ICZM System. Geological data of Sabah required for the ICZM project are geological features, mineral distribution, mining/quarrying, concessions/operations, aggregations dredging and oil/gas exploration. Geological information is imperative not only for the ICZM project but also for other development planning in the state. Figure 19 shows the geological indexes listed in theICZM Data Dictionary.

Table 23: Geological Time

Archeozoic 5,000,000,000 –1,500,000,000     Earth’s crust formed, unicellular organisms; earliest known life
Proterozoic 1,500,000,000 –600,000,000     Bacteria, algae, and fungi; primitive multicellular organisms
  600,000,000 –500,000,000 Cambrian   Marine invertebrates
  500,000,000 –440,000,000 Ordovician   Conodonts, ostracods, algae, and seaweeds
  440,000,000 –400,000,000 Silurian   Air-breathing animals
Paleozoic 400,000,000 –350,000,000 Devonian   Dominance of fishes; advent of amphibians and ammonites
  350,000,000 –300,000,000 Mississippian (carboniferous)   Increase of land areas; primitive ammonites; development of winged insects
  300,000,000 –270,000,000 Pennsylvanian (carboniferous)   Warm climates; swampy lands; development of large reptiles and insects
  270,000,000 –220,000,000 Permian   Many reptiles
  220,000,000 –180,000,000 Triassic   Volcanic activity, marines reptiles, dinosaurs
Mesozoic 180,000,000 –135,000,000 Jurassic   Dinosaurs, conifers
  135,000,000 –70,000,000 Cretaceous   Extinction of giants reptiles; advent of modern insects; flowering plants
  70,000,000 –60,000,000   Paleocene Advent of birds, mammals
  60,000,000 –40,000,000 Paleogene (tertiary) Eocene Presence of modern mammals
  40,000,000 –25,000,000   Oligocene Sabertoothed cats
Cenozoic 25,000,000 –10,000,000 Neogene (tertiary) Miocene Grazing mammals
  10,000,000 –1,000,000   Pliocene Growth of mountains; increase in size and numbers of mammals; gradual cooling of climate
  1,000,000 –10,000 Quaternary Pleistocene Widespread glacial ice
  10,000 –present   Recent Development of man

Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (p. 483).

4.3  Geological Features

4.3.1  Geological Rock Age

Triassic Period

The Triassic is a period in the Mesozoic era, occurring from 180 million to 220 million years ago, and characterised by volcanic activity and the advent of dinosaurs and marine reptiles40.

The 1996 Annual Report of the Geological Survey Department, Malaysia reported that the oldest rocks in Sabah are identified as the metamorphic41 rocks of the Crystalline Basement. They are found in eastern part of Sabah, especially in the upper Segama valley, which covers an area of approximately 500 km2. Metamorphic rocks are also found in the Gunung Kinabalu area, Labuk Valley, Taritipan and the northern islands. The trend of rocks identified in the Segama area is of the east-west foliation trend. Metamorphic rocks found in Sabah are predominantly amphibolites, gneisses, quartzites, skarns, meta-gabbro, metadolerite, meta-tuffaceous and metavolcanic rocks. These rocks have been under at least two periods of folding and deformation.

Radiometric dates of metamorphic and igneous rocks indicated that the formation of these rocks in Sabah could be as early as Early Triassic time (210 3 Million Years) (1996 Annual Report, Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 117).

Cretaceous Period - Eocene Epoch

The Cretaceous is a period in the Mesozoic era, occurring from 70 million to 135 million years ago and characterised by the extinction of giant reptiles and the advent of modern insects42. Eocene pertains to an epoch either of the Tertiary or Paleogene period, occurring from 40 million to 60 million years ago and characterised by the presence of modern mammals43.

The 1996 Annual Report of the Geological Survey Department, Malaysia stated that rocks from these periods are found mainly in the south-central and eastern part of Sabah, especially in the Pensiangan-Pinangah area and also the Segama Valley. They are also found in the northern islands, Gunung Kinabalu area, at Taritipan and also in the Labun Valley.

Two rock formations represent the Cretaceous – Eocene period. They are the Sapulut and Chert-Spilite Formations. The Sapulut Formation is characterised by argillaceous strata and also argillaceous limestone, conglomerate, chert and sandstone. The Chert-Spilite Formation consists of limestone, radiolarian chert, sandstone conglomerate, spilite, volcanic breccia, agglomerate, pillow basalt and associated dolerite and keratophyre.

Eocene Epoch – Oligocene Epoch

Oligocene pertains to an epoch either of the Tertiary or the Paleogene period, occurring from 25 million to 40 million years ago and characterised by the presence of the saber-toothed cats44. The rocks from the epochs between Eocene and Oligocene largely cover the northern and western parts of Sabah.

The rocks between Eocene and Oligocene contain thick sequence of interbedded sandstone, siltstone, mudstone and shale, and rare limestone (Crocker Formation), and slate, phyllite, quartzite, limestone, chert and tuff (Trusmadi Formation). The common features of the rocks are cross bedding, graded bedding, ripple marks and sole markings. These features suggest that the rocks were partly deposited by turbidity currents. The existence of the thicker beds might have been caused by mass movement mechanisms.

The Eocene rocks in parts of central Sabah consist of reddish and purplish sandstone, siltstone, and shale (Kulapis Formation). Along the west coast of Sabah and also along rivers that cut across the strike of the strata, the Eocene rocks are well exposed.

Oligocene Epoch – Miocene Epoch

Miocene pertains to an epoch either in the Tertiary of Neogene period, occurring from 10 million to 25 million years ago, and characterised by the presence of grazing mammals45. In Sabah, rocks formed during Oligocene – Miocene epochs are found only at the south west of the State, bordering Sarawak. The Oligocene strata are mainly mudstone and shale (Temburong Formation) and consist of ample arenaceous foraminifera.

Miocene Epoch – Pliocene Epoch

Pliocene pertains to an epoch either in the Tertiary or Neogene period from 1 million to 10 million years ago, and characterised by the increased size and number of mammals, by the growth of mountains and by gradual cooling of the climate46. In Sabah, rocks formed during the Miocene-Pliocene age are found chiefly in eastern part of the region, and also in the southwest and north.

Pliocene Epoch – Quaternary Period

The Quaternary pertains to the present period, forming the latter part of the Cenozoic era, originating about 1 million years ago, including the Recent and Pleistocene epochs47.

During Pliocene age, volcanic activities were active in the east coast of Sabah. Sedimentation occurred within the coastal areas. Sediments consisting of clay, lignite, limestone and calcareous sandstone accumulated in the Semporna and Dent Peninsulas. Clay, Lignitic clay, conglomerate and sandstone of the Liang Formation are found in the Sipitang and Klias Peninsulas.

Coarse gravel, sand, silt, clay, peat and coral form the Quaternary deposits. These deposits accumulated along the coast and now found in Klias, Padas valley, the Sook-Keningau plains and Tenom. The 1996 Annual Report of the Geological Survey Department, Malaysia reported that the quaternary deposits of the Kota Kinabalu-Kinarut area are categorised into the paludal deposits, marine and coastal deposits and riverine deposits. The primary compositions of the paludal deposits are peat layers and minor clay, and silt. The marine and coastal deposits composed of mainly clay, silt, fine to coarse sand and minor peat. The riverine deposits consist principally of sand, silt, clay and minor peat and plant debris.

4.3.2  Lithology and Geological Formations48

Sabah can be divided into four principal geomorphological49 regions. They are:

The Eastern Lowlands include the Deltas, the Northern Islands, Lokan peneplain, Sandakan peninsula, Kinabatangan Lowlands, Segama Valley, Semporna peninsula and Dent Hills. The Deltas were formed at the mouths of all the main rivers flowing into the Celebes and Sulu Seas. The Eastern Deltas, which covers an area of approximately 1,800 km2 of low-lying swamp, is formed from the merging of the Kinabatangan, Segama and other streams. The Cowie Deltas is located at the head of the Cowie Harbour. The other main deltas are those of the Sugut and Labuk Rivers.

The Northern Islands include Banggi, Balambangan, Malawali and other small nearby islands. The composition of the islands is mainly of igneous50 rocks. An area of more than 2,500 km2 between the Kinabatangan and Labuk rivers is covered by the Lokan peneplain. It comprises of a number of wide terraces divided by steep slopes of not more than 15 meters high.

The Sandakan peninsular and its southern part are hilly, a contrast from the flat and undulating northern part of the peninsular. The Kinabatangan Valley and the area south of the Sandakan Harbour form the Kinabatangan Lowland. The Segama Valley covers the lower part of the Segama River (excluding the delta) and its tributaries.

Most of Dent Peninsula are covered by Dent Hills, and the formation trend is from the east to the north east. The Ayer, Sahabat, Silabukan, Tungku, Togopi and Tabin Rivers drain into the area. The Semporna Peninsula, the peneplain drained by the Kalumpang river volcanic hills in the Gunung Pock area lava fields around Mostyn, the alluvial plains and swamps along the coast form the Semporna Lowlands.

Table 24: Early Miocene Deposits in Eastern Sabah

Formation Deposits Location
Kalabakan Argillaceous (Clayey) deposits Southeast of Kalabakan Valley
Kalumpang Mudstone, shale, tuff and tuffite Binuang area and Kalumpang Valley
Garinono Slump51 deposits (melange or broken formation) Sandakan Peninsula
Labang Slump deposits (melange or broken formation) Dent Peninsula
Ayer Slump deposits (melange or broken formation) Dent Peninsula
Kuamut Slump deposits (melange or broken formation) Upper Kinabatangan Area

Source: 1996 Annual Report of the Department of Geological Survey, Malaysia (p. 118)

Late Miocene deposits in Eastern Sabah are of the Tanjong, Kapilit and Sandakan Formations which consist of sandstone and mudstone along the Kalabakan-Kuamut-Kinabatangan valleys. The Miocene – Pliocene rocks are mainly sedimentary rocks with minor limestone beds. These rocks are found predominantly in the eastern part of the Dent Peninsula.

The Segama and Tawau Highlands combine to form the Central Uplands. The Segama Highlands comprise chiefly of rigged country with a prominent trend from the east to the west. The highlands stretch out all the way to southwest of Lahad Datu. Half of Semporna Peninsula is occupied by the Tawau Highlands. The high rugged country features of the highlands were formed during the Pliocene and Quaternary period.

The Crocker Foothills, Crocker plains, Klias Hills and the Western Islands form the Western Lowlands. The Crocker Plains cover the alluvial plains between the South China Sea and the head of Marudu Bay. Silt and clay dominate the alluvial plain. However, sandy beaches are also common in the area.

The Klias hills constitute the western part of the Klias Peninsula. This could be a part of an upfaulted block that may have created an elongated emergent island during Pleistocene. The Western Islands consist of Labuan, Tiga, Gaya, Mangalum, Mantanani and a number of smaller islands that are located on the continental shelf off the west coast of Sabah. These islands might have formed monadnock52 on a peneplain and later inundated by the post-glacial rise in sea level during Pleistocene age. The continental shelf of western Sabah is about 100 kilometres in width up to the 200-metres depth contour. A maximum of 12 km of principally Neogene elastic sediments covers the continental shelf.

4.4  Mineral Distribution

In Sabah, most deposits of metallic minerals are found along a central belt extending from the northern islands of Banggi and Malawali, through Taritipan, Gunung Kinabalu and the Labuk valley to the upper Segama Valley-Darvel Bay area and Semporna Peninsula. The minerals found in Sabah are described below in alphabetical order.


The 1996 Annual Report of the Department of Geological Survey, Malaysia reported that a small stibnite deposit occurs at Rendagong, southwest of Ranau. The stibnite occurrence is uneven along a soft mudstone band between 5 and 7.5 cm thick and in joints in the underlying sandstone. Detrital grains of stibnite were also found in Samalang, Melaut and Luidu Rivers.


Asbestos is found in most ultrabasic rocks in Sabah. It is found mainly in the Malawali Islands, near Taritipan in Marudu Bay, east of Gunung Kinabalu, and in a few places in the upper Segama Valley.

The Geological Survey Department, Malaysia has carried some detailed investigation of asbestos found in the southern part of Malawali Island. The results show that short-fibre chrysotile asbestos occurs in brecciated serpentinite, and that the veins (mostly less than 1 mm wide, some 5 mm) are equally distributed and widespread. The department reported that asbestos veins in serpentinite occur at three places on the east coast of Marudu Bay. The fibre varies in length from 0. 5 to 5 cm.


One bauxite deposit at Wasai and Mansan Rivers, south of Telupid has approximately 2.5 million tonnes of good quality bauxite. The deposit covers an area of about 3.9 km2. Bauxite is also found in the lower Labuk Valley, Bukit Mengkabau, north of Telupid and Sungai Mailo.


In Sabah, chromite is found in dunite, a rock type that makes up less than 5% of the ultrabasic outcrops. Chromite mineral occurs as black sand in the flat, sandy beaches off Pulau Banggi, Pulau Malawi, Marasimsim (Marudu Bay) and Silam. The chromite sand is the result of weathering of ultramafic rocks in which it is a common accessory mineral. Chromite is also found as lenses and irregular masses in dunite, which forms the low-lying hills near the coast in Pulau Laila in the Darvel Bay.


Coal was produced in Labuan for 60 years but mining was stopped in 1912 due to the difficulties in dewatering the mine. It is estimated that there may still be about 9 million tonnes of sub-bituminous noncoking coal remaining in one coal seam. The coal deposit at Silimpopon has been mined previously, but it is estimated that there are sufficient reserves remaining at the area to justify the resumption of mining. The department has mapped more than 20 coal outcrops in the inner Maliau Basin in 1988. Recently the department has discovered and mapped more than 130 coal outcrops in the Malibau Basin. The department reported that the coal is generally of the good quality bituminous variety with low sulphur contents and high heat values. Some of them may have coking properties.


The 1996 Annual Report of the Department of Geological Survey, Malaysia stated that good quality kaolinitic clay was investigated by the department in South West Coast region of Sabah.

Several small deposits were discovered around Kimanis with a total reserve of 300,000 tonnes and in Kg. Batu near Beaufort with a reserve of 29,880 tonnes. Brown or reddish-brown clay, suitable for the manufacture of bricks and drainage pipes are found in the coastal areas of the west coast. They are chiefly found in the Kota Kinabalu, Kinarut, Tuaran and Sandakan areas. Brown clay from the alluvium and the weathering of volcanic rocks has been successfully used for making bricks in the Tawau area. Small deposits of white kaolinitic clay are found along the West Coast, near Papat and Kawang. The estimated reserves at Papar are approximately 65,000 tonnes.

Construction Materials

Construction materials found along the West Coast of Sabah consist of sandstone, limestone, coral and ultramafic rocks. These materials are found mainly in Sipitang, Kota Kinabalu, Balambangan Island, Banggi Island, Bum-Bum Island, Kuala Sipit, Lahad Datu and Semporna areas. In Sipitang, the sandstone occurs as a NE-SW treading ridge. The limestone of Pulau Banggi, Pulau Balambangan, Kuala Sipit and Semporna underlie moderately high hills near to the coast. Coral sand is found in the channel between Kota Kinabalu and Pulau Gaya. The sand from quartz gravel deposit in the Sandakan Peninsula is also used as constructional materials.

Corals are mainly used for construction of roads (sub-base) in the past and rarely used for general construction purposes. They are found near most of the coastal towns. The coral reefs of Sabah are rich in variety and form. However, large-scale operation to obtain coral for constructional purposes is not encouraged by the authorities, as this would destroy the coral reefs in the area.

Table 25: Estimated reserves of various constructional materials

Location Rock type Reserves (m3)
Sipitang Sandstone 1,050,000
Kota Kinabalu Coral sand Unknown
Balambangan Island Limestone 82,000,000
Banggi Island Limestone 10,000,000
Silam Ultramatic 1,150,000
Kuala Sipit Limestone 7,600,000
Semporna Raised Coral Unknown

Source: Task Force 1 2nd Draft Outline Report, Chapter 9 Geological Survey Department, Malaysia (p. 54)


Copper mineralisation is known in at least 20 areas in the Labuk and Karainuak valleys, Taritipan, Banggi Island, around Gunung Kinabalu, in the upper Segama valley, and Semporna Peninsula.

The Mamut porphyry copper mine on the southeastern slope of Gunung, the Nungkok Copper Prospect west of Gunung Kinabalu, the Bambangan deposit just west of Mamut, and the West-Sualog and Kiabau deposits in the Bidu-Bidu Hills are the most important copper deposits. The deposits in the Kinabalu area are low-grade porphyry-type copper deposits associated with Tertiary adamellite-granodiorite intrusions. Those in the Bidu-Bidu Hills area are Cyprus-type massive sulphide deposits associated with volcanic-sedimentary rocks.


Pegmatitic feldspar occurs in the ultramafic bodies in Kudat, Nangoh, Sungai Piso and Sungai Muanod in the Sandakan Peninsula. The feldspar is of albite-oligoclase composition with some quartz inclusions.

Glass Sand (Silica Sand)

Deposits of silica sand occur on terrace covering 10km2 near the coast south of Sipitang. Similar deposits are also found in the Klias Peninsula. The thickness of the sand varies considerably, but in places, it is up to 1 m. Grain size analyses of bulk samples showed that part of the deposits conform to the size specification for glass sand.

Quartz gravel deposits occur throughout the Sandakan Peninsula, particularly around the Sandakan Airport. The deposits consist of about 30-80% quartz pebbles. Preliminary studies show that the quartz could be suitable for metallurgical uses and for producing silicon metal.


Gold is present in a considerable amount in the copper ore at Mamut, forming about 20g/t of the concentrates (1996 Annual Report, Geological Survey Department, Malaysia, p. 145). Gold is also found in small quantities in the Liwagu, Merali, and Mankadau valleys east of Kinabalu. Epithermal gold mineralisation is found at Bukit Nagos at the south coast of the Semporna Peninsula, Gunung Pock, Gunung Wullersdorf and Bukit Mantri (adularia-sericite type) (1996 Annual Report, Geological Survey Department, Malaysia, p. 145). Alluvial gold occurs in the lower reaches of rivers in the Lahad Datu area and the southern coast of Semporna Peninsula.

A joint GSD-JICA project (1994-1996) discovered gold and silver mineralisation in quartz-sulphide (pyrite, arsenopyrite) veins, which is genetically related to the diorite porphyry sills and dykes that intrude the sedimentary country rocks, in the Sungai Imbak area, Central Sabah.

Iron and Nickel

Limonite and lateritic clay that contains iron and a small proportion of nickel make up the residual deposits on some of the ultrabasic masses in Sabah. The largest known limonite deposit of this type underlies the Tavai Plateau, an area of about 15 km2. The GSD-JICA project (1994 – 1996) has investigated the development of nickel laterite over the ultramafic rock in the West Telupid area. A nickel grade ranging from 1 00 ppm to more than 2% was obtained from the laterite soil and saprolite, but the distribution of the higher grade soil (Ni value > 0.8%) is limited along and around the crest of the central hill.


Limestone is found in abundance in Sabah. However, little is exploited for construction and for other uses. The limestone generally occurs as isolated hills, and varies in quantity from a few thousand cubic meters to several tens of million cubic meters. The larger deposits are at Gomantong and the neighbouring hills, Sukau, Subak, Bilit in the lower Sungai Kinabatangan, Pulau Balambangan, Pulau Banggi, Baturong and Madai near Kunak, Tempadong near Lahad Datu, and Sipit near Semporna (1996 Annual Report, Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 146). Smaller deposits are also found in the Kudat peninsula, upper Sungai Kinabatangan, Batu Timbang, Bukit Sinobang, Batu Punggul, and Punan Batu in the interior of Sabah.


Galena and sphalerite in quartz veins were found in association with chalcopyrite at two areas south of Gunung Wullersdorf (1996 Annual Report Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 146). Several lead-zinc-copper deposits as well as geochemical anomalies for these metals were found north of the mountain.


Manganese occurs at Taritipan in the Marudu Bay (1996 Annual Report Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p.146). However, the ore is concentrated only near the surface and the quantity is small. Generally, it is not of marketable quality due to its high silica content.


Cinnabar, occurring as detrital grains and associated with scheelite, are found in Sungai Samalang, Sungai Kenipir and Sungai Kinunut southwest of Ranau and in the Labuk valley at Kampong Nabutan (1996 Annual Report, Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 146). Investigations by the department in 1989-1990 located detrital cinnabar in Sungai Melaut and Sungai Luidu south of Sungai Kenipir. However, the source of the cinnabar has not been identified.


In Sabah, molybdenum in the form of molybdenite is associated with the copper ore at Nungkok. Flakes of molybdenite in vein-quartz boulders were discovered in the upper Purut valley in the upper Segama area (1996 Annual Report Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 147).


Montmorillonite clay has been known from the Dent and Sandakan peninsulas since the 1960s (1996 Annual Report Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 147). An estimate of 70 million tonnes of clay in the Sandakan peninsula, Lahad Datu, Silabukan area, and Tawau has been reported to have sufficiently high contents of montmorillonite and can be considered as a raw material for use in the production of acid-activated clay (1996 Annual Report Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 147). However, follow-up investigations by the department in several of the targets in the Lahad Datu area, namely; Silabukan, Segama, Sepagaya and Mansuli showed that the clay has low cation exchange capacity (CEC) value of less than 40 meq/1 00g.


Blocks of nephrite had been reported by Reinhard and Wenk, (Bulletin 1, p.67-68) in Sungai Mankadau which drains the eastern part of Gunung Kinabalu (1996 Annual Report Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 147). Current geological mapping has located boulders (up to 1.5 m across) of nephrite, a variety of jade, along the same river. The colour of the nephrite ranges from dark greenish grey to light green.

Platinum Group (PGM)

Platinum group minerals have been found in the auriferous alluvium in Edam River near the coast of Lahad Datu, middle Sungai Segama and Sungai Bole in the Segama valley, Sungai Pamaitan in the Ranau district and Sungai Bengkinit in the Banggi Island, and also in association with chromite in Banggi Island. The source of alluvial platinum group metals (PGM) is probably the chromite-bearing ophiolites, which outcrop quite extensively.


Peat is utilised as local fuel, soil conditioner and low-grade fertiliser (especially the calcareous peat). Peat occurs mainly in swamps along the coastal areas in Sabah. The total area underlain by peat is estimated at 1,212 km2. The peat swamps are mainly found in Klias, lower Kinabatangan and Segama areas. Smaller deposits are found along the west coat, Pulau Balambangan and the lower Labuk.

Sulphidic peat (> 0.75% sulphur, dry weight) is found at the Sandakan Harbour, Cowie Harbour and the estuaries of the Kinabatangan and Segama Rivers. Small deposits of calcareous peat occur in coastal swamps, especially at Pulau Mangalum.


Phosphate occurs as guano in limestone caves. The biggest deposits are found in the Gomantong caves, which may contain reserves of 12,000 tonnes (1996 Annual Report Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 147). Smaller deposits occur in caves at Madai (8,400 tonnes), Baturong, Tempadong, and other limestone hills


Quartz gravel deposits occur throughout the Sandakan peninsula, particularly around the Sandakan Airport (1996 Annual Report Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 147). The deposits consist of about 30 to 80% quartz pebbles. The quartz from the area is suitable for metallurgical uses and for producing silicon metal.


The 1996 Annual Report of the Geological Survey Department, Malaysia (p. 147) reported that silver is present in recoverable amount in the copper ore at Mamut (120 g/t of concentrate). Silver are also found in the silicified volcanic rocks at Gunung Pock and Gunung Wullersdorf in the Semporna peninsula.


Detrital grains of scheelite have been identified in Sungai Samalang in association with cinnabar and stibnite. Scheelite, in association with stibnite, wolframite, gold and cinnabar, has recently been found in concentrates in Sungai Melaut and Sungai Luidu, southwest of Ranau. Scheelite, in association with gold, has been found in concentrates from streams in the Merungin and Surob areas (1996 Annual Report of the Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 147).

4.5  Mining/Quarrying/Aggregates Dredging

Besides oil and gas, the main mineral and mineral-based products of Sabah in 1996 are copper, gold, silver, limestone, clay bricks, tiles, construction stone and sand valued at about RM277.7 million (1996 Annual Report of the Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 147). In the construction sector, the activities have increased as noted by the significant increase in the production of construction stone and clay bricks.

The Mamut Mine has a reserve of approximately 77 million tonnes of ore with an average grade of 0.608% copper, and recoverable amounts of gold and silver. Mining started in early 1975, and the production of copper concentrates commenced in the same year. Since production began, the mine has produced more than 2.2 million tonnes of concentrates containing more than 520,000 tonnes of copper, 41 tonnes of gold and 268 tonnes of silver. The ore reserves in the Mamut Copper Mine are expected to be depleted by the year 2000. The mine will cease operating then. The mine has proposed a comprehensive plan to transform the mine into an integrated tourist resort.

Many types of stone are quarried and extracted for road and airfield construction, and for use as concrete aggregates. The most commonly used stone near the Kota Kinabalu area is the hard grey sandstone of the Crocker Formation. Sandstones are mainly found in most areas around Penampang, Inanam, Menggatal, Telipok and Tamparuli. The stone reserves are between 100,000 and 2,000,000 m3. A small granodiorite stock at Kampung Kapa, near Tamparuli, beside the Tamparuli-Ranau Highway and the nearest igneous body to Kota Kinabalu, has been quarried for the past 15 years.

Quartz gravel and fine sand aggregates are extracted from around the Sandakan airport. These are used for road surfacing and for concrete work in the Sandakan area. Large blocks of sandstone, serpentinite, gabbro, and volcanic rocks of the Garinono Formation have also been identified and quarried for constructional purposes. At Mount Silam, a quarry developed on a peridotite outcrop has been the source of constructional stones for the Lahad Datu area.

The sources of sand for constructional purposes are from river terraces, river beds and also coastal beaches. Tawau obtains its sand supply for the construction industry from the coastal alluvium sand around Apas area. The supply of sand for the Kota Kinabalu area is obtained from Papar, Tuaran and Kadamaian rivers. River sand dredging activities are under the jurisdiction of the District Officer in the district where the activities are carried out. Most of the activities in rivers along the West Coast of Sabah operate in small scales- as a family business. The only list of sand dredging companies available at the of time writing is the list of those operating along the west coast of Sabah.

Table 26: Names, addresses and location (GPS-location) of Sand Dredging Companies along the West Coast from Tuaran to Sipitang

No Names of Company Addresses District GPS-Location
1 San Min Contractor Sdn.Bhd
(River Gravel)
N/A Beaufort N/A
2 San Min Contractor Sdn. Bhd
(River Sand)
N/A Beaufort N/A
3 Pembinaan Sri Muhibah N/A Papar N/A
4 Wu Kwang Auto Parts Sdn Bhd N/A Papar N/A
5 Innoglow Corp. Sdn. Bhd N/A Kota Kinabalu N/A
6. Sulaman Enterprise No. 7, Jalan Hone
P.O. Box 131, 89208
Tuaran N 6o 10.273’
E 116o 13.927’
7 Sakisan Enterprise Jalan Pantai Dalit
Tuaran N 6o 11.581’
E 116o 13.019’
8 Transako Trading Lot 4, 14D, Jln Burung
Kereto Mile 5 Tuaran,
88450 Inanam
Tuaran N 6 o 11.721’
E 116 o 14.976’
9 Seribu Teguh Enterprise Jalan Pantai Dalit
Tuaran N 6 o 11.843’
E 116 o 12.668’
10 LimTian Kee Sand Mining Kg. Bantayan Tamparuli Tuaran N 6 o 10.392’
E 116 o 14.255’
11 Sah Lim Sand Mining Kg. Bantayan Tamparuli Tuaran N 6 o 08.841’
E 116 o 15.153’

Source: SEM – Consultants, 1998

4.6  Concessions/Operations

Four new Prospecting Permits (PP) were issued during 1996 in Sabah (Malaysian Minerals Yearbook 1996, Geological Survey Department, Malaysia p. 80). The Geological Survey Department received and commented on eight new Prospecting Licence (PL) applications. Two applications for mining lease, one for gold in Tawau and one for copper in Bidu-Bidu Hills, lodged in 1994 are still pending for approval. In 1996, there were eight PLs for bentonite, gold and base metals in force. However, only four were active. The only valid mining lease is the Mamut Copper Mine in Ranau. A new quarry lease for extraction of silica sand in Balambangan Island was issued in 1996. Table 27 and Table 28 show the list of mining rights and prospecting rights holders, respectively, in 1996 for Sabah.

Table 27: Mining Rights in Force in 1996 – Sabah


Mining Certificate /Lease No.

Holder Location Area (Hectares) Minerals Enforcement Date
1 ML9900051 Mamut Copper Mining Sdn Bhd. Ranau, Sabah 1,943 Copper, gold & silver 1973-2003
2 Not Available

Sepekat Kinabalu Sdn. Bhd.

North Balambangan Island, Sabah 3,510 Silica sand 1.1.1996

Note: Mining Certificate and Mining Lease
Source: Malaysian Minerals Yearbook 1996, Geological Survey Department, Malaysia (p. 87)

Table 28: Prospecting Rights in Force in 1996 - Sabah

No. Prospecting No. Holder Location Area (Hectares) Minerals Enforcement Date
1 LSC 4326.168 Mamut Copper Mining Sdn. Bhd. Merungin/Paginatan, Sabah 25,900 Au, PGM,Cr, Ni, Base metals, Dimension Stone and jade 18.61996 to 17.6.1997
2 LSC 4326.179 Malaysian Mining Corporation Bhd. Tavai/Karamuak, Sabah 10,200 Iron, Ni, Cr, Co and Cu 2.5.1996 to 1.5.1997
3 LSC 4326.184 Buanduon Sdn. Bhd. Gunung Pock, Sabah 4,425 Gold, silver, PGM & base metals 2.5.1996 to 1.5.1997
4 LSC 4326.192 Lincah Hebat Sdn. Bhd. Kawang/Bole, Segama Valley, Sabah 72,700 Precious & Base metals 1.2.1996 to 31.1 1997
5 LSC 4326.128 Sepakat Kinabalu Sdn. Bhd. Balambangan/Banggi Islands, Sabah 124,300 Silica sand, precious & base metals 1992 to 1996
6 LSC 4326.134 Mestiwin Sdn. Bhd Ranau, Sabah 57,000 Precious & base metals 1992 to 1996
7 LSC 4326.164 Leadstar Sdn. Bhd. Beluran & Telupid, Sabah 50,000 Copper & gold 1987 to 1997
8 LSC 4326.72 Plateau Logam Mines Sdn. Bhd. South Kuamut & Brassey Range, Sabah 57,000 Precious & base metals 1987 to 1990

LSC 4326.65 (PL 99860001)

Zamia Sdn. Bhd. Tawau, Sabah 40,000 Precious & base metals 1987 to 1996
10 LSC 4326.95 Pulau Dinawan Sdn. Bhd. Lahad Datu, Sabah 82,000 Bentonite, base & precious metals 1992 to 1996
11 LSC 4326.139 Flextred Sdn. Bhd. Pensiangan & Long Pasia, Sabah 85,000 Precious & base metals 1994 to 1998
12 LSC 4326.167 Dovist Sdn. Bhd. Sg.Segama, Lahad Datu, Sabah 30,000 Gold & precious metals 1994 to 1998

Note: Prospecting rights include prospecting permit, prospecting licence, general prospecting licence & exclusive prospecting licence.
Source: Malaysian Minerals Yearbook 1996, Geological Survey Department, Malaysia (p. 91)

4.7  Oil/Gas Exploration

Oil and gas are found mainly off the west coast of Sabah. Exploration effort continues on land as well as offshore. Crude oil production for Sabah offshore fields showed a decrease to 42 million barrels in 1991. The oilfield areas are shown in the map of mineral distribution of Sabah based on information available up to 1996 (Figure 20).

The existing oilfield areas in Sabah are:

Figure 20: Mineral Distribution in Sabah (1996) (Picture is currently unavailable)

Source: 1996 Annual Report, Geological Survey Department, Malaysia (p. 142)

4.8  Information Issues

The information still needed for the completion of this chapter is:

4.9  ICZM Issues Arising

Hill Cutting and Vegetative Clearance Activities: Hill cutting and clearing vegetation on hilly areas are carried out for the purpose of housing and commercial development in most of the major towns in Sabah. These activities bring a major drawback to the stability of the soil in the area affected. They also create the problems of landslides and erosion. Clearance of vegetation near rivers aggravates the problem of erosion and siltation.

Conflicting Marine Activities: Onshore/Offshore sand mining/heavy mineral mining activities will be in conflict with activities such as recreation/fisheries and also with conservation plans. Issues need to be addressed accordingly in the ICZM project.

Coastal Erosion & Groundwater Catchment: Mining of beaches and sand dunes near the coastal areas would not only speed up coastal erosion but in addition, as the coastline moves inland, the saltwater/freshwater interface with sand aquifers would shift inland posing a threat to the groundwater catchment.

Water Supply Source: There is a possibility that logging and agricultural activities would be in conflict with attempts to extract water from peat areas for public water supply. There is also a possibility of coastal aquifer being overexploited allowing for saltwater intrusion.

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39The Mesozoic era occurred about 70 million to 220 million years ago. Mesozoic means ‘middle life’. The rocks in this era were dominated by fossil reptiles and a significant number of more modern invertebrates. This era is characterised by the appearance of flowering plants and extinction of dinosaurs. Source: Hamblin, W.K. ‘The Earth’s Dynamic Systems (Third Edition)’ and Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (p. 899).

40Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (p. 1511).

41Metamorphic rocks are formed from pre-existing rocks within the earth’s crust by changes in temperature and pressure and by chemical actions of fluids. . (Source: Hamblin, W.K. ‘The Earth’s Dynamic Systems (Third Edition)’p. 506).

42Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (p. 343).

43Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (p. 478).

44Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language ( p. 1004).

45Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (p. 914).

46Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (p. 1106).

47Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (p. 1177).

48Lithology is the science dealing with the mineral composition and structure of rocks especially with such characters of structure as can be studied without high magnification (Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language p. 837).

49Geomorphology is the study of the characteristics, origin and development of land forms (Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language p. 592).

50Igneous rocks are formed by cooling and solidification of molten silicate minerals (magma). They include volcanic and plutonic rocks. (Source: Hamblin, W.K. ‘The Earth’s Dynamic Systems (Third Edition)’ p. 504).

51The slump deposits include large blocks of older rocks such as chert, limestone, gabbro, sandstone and serpentinite.(Source: 1996 Annual Report of the Department of Geological Survey, Malaysia (p. 118)).

52Monadnock is a residual hill or mountain standing well above the surface of a surrounding peneplain. (Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language p. 924).