Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge TT5 ~ Perak Malaysia
As soon as the car turns into the dirt road leading towards the dredge, we see a huge protrusion in the backdrop. Batu Gajah is littered with ponds left behind by the hundreds of tin mines that used to work the area in the late 1800s right through till the mid 1900s. Today Malim Nawar - Batu Gajah area is a fantastic locale for bird watching, especially during migratory seasons where waders and raptors stop over for a short rest before continuing their long , arduous journey to their nesting sites.
Back in the early 1900s, the area was teeming with coolies working at open cast mines, alluvial mines and later - the British companies brought in tin dredges to increase production to fuel their industries. At the hilt of production, there were as many as 123 individual tin dredges found in Peninsula Malaysia. The sizes ranged from small to large depending on the capacity of production in the area. TT5 meaning Tanjung Tualang No.5 was one of 7 tin dredges managed and owned by the Southern Malayan Tin Dredging Ltd.
The company formed in 1926 was a subsidiary of the largest mining company in Malaya at the time, namely Malayan Mining Corporation (MMC). TT5 was commissioned in 1938 and built by by F.W.Payne & Son based in England and renown in designing and commissioning bucketline dredges. The TT5 was built and shipped over to Malaya in pieces which eventually took the company a year and a half to commission this 4500 tonne dredge. TT5 was previously located in deeper waters, in the middle of some 30+ meter deep pond. The dredge started off fitted with a steam engine which was fed coal 24hours each day for 364days in a year. The only day off was on Labour Day. The steam engine was later replaced with electricity fired turbines in 1963.
Each dredge bucket as seen attached to the dredge ladder in the diagram above , weighs 2tonnes and the entire dredge ladder is fitted with 115 buckets which shifts some 22 tonnes of tin and other mineral laden soil from the bottom of the pond. So, why work in a pond? you may ask. Well, with water, it's easier to dislodge the soil and to work with the medium. Once the buckets are elevated and the laden soil is dumped onto a great big screen and subsequently onto a sequence of jigs before the separated tin ore is siphoned into storage bins.
The 3 storey dredge has between 15 to 20 people on deck at any one time. And since it operates 24hours a day, the shifts are broken into 3. The bins are then transferred onto sampans and onto lorries which are transported to smelting plants. Currently there is still one smelting plant in production and that is in Butterworth.
The ladder with dredge bucket shown above was lifted when TT5 was relocated to the current site in 1982. By the early 1980's the tin market had all but collapsed, with escalating operating costs and low tin deposits hastened TT5's decommissioning. To prevent any calamities such as the pontoon keeling over or overturning in the deep water pond, TT5 was dragged to a shallower site as it is now. Even having taken measures to ensure the pontoon maintain afloat, after years of idle, TT5 did keel to its right somewhat.
By 1982, most of the 123 dredges found in peninsula malaysia had already been dismantled and sold as scrap. Once decision was made to retire TT5 , several individuals came about to start a "Save the Dredge" campaign so as to keep one of only 2 remaining tin dredges intact as a monument to mark the prosperity tin brought to Malaya and its people in the 19th and 20th century. Eventually MMC donated TT5 to the Perak government in 2014.
Under the MB Inc, a subsidiary company of the Perak State Government there are plans to develop the dredge and the area, to include shopping units, terrace housing, and entertainment areas. With such sensitive restoration projects, overzealous project leaders and managers could well create another white elephant which the state can not afford to keep afloat. And since the current government has to reconsider wastage projects that were approved of previously, they may have to look into this one as well...
- Adult: RM 20
- Child (ages 8-12): RM 10
- Seniors (65+): RM 10
- Children 7 and below are free.
- Adult: RM 10
- Child (ages 8-12): RM 5
- Seniors (65+): RM 5
- Children 7 and below are free.
Open Daily : 9am - 6pm (Fridays lunch break: 12.30pm - 2.30pm)
TT5 Guided Tours : 9.30am | 10.30am | 11.30am | 12.30pm | 1.30pm | 2.30pm | 3.30pm | 4.30pm |
9th KM, Jalan Tanjung Tualang, 31000 Batu Gajah, Perak, Malaysia
Enquiries: +6014 9043 255
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/tanjungtualangno5/