We visited Sungai Lembing’s Underground Tin Mines without really knowing what to expect. We entered the compound, saw a small railway track, a small tram, and nothing much in the vicinity. We were a bit surprised at the steep entrance fee of RM 15 because it seemed like there was nothing much to see.
But then, we thought what the heck, since we are already here so might as well. I was glad that we went in because it was an underground world of wonders.
We thought the tram that was parked at the entrance was only for show, but in fact, it was still functional and it was used to transport us into the tunnel. The 20 seconds short ride was exciting, for it was a windy, thrilling ride that brought us into a dark tunnel unbeknownst to us.
The tunnel was well-lit inside, with lots of infographics on the tunnel walls. The underground mines were first established in 1888 by Pahang Corporation, when Sungai Lembing was still undeveloped with rainforest terrains. There was no electricity, and Chinese immigrant workers had to be trained from scratch. The Pahang Consolidated Company Limited (PCCL) took over in 1906, developing the mines into a massive network of underground tunnels, while at the same also developing the town of Sungai Lembing, providing water, electricity and education.
The underground tunnels represent the largest tin mine in the world, totalling a cross-cut subterranean length of 322 km. It is also extremely deep, at the depth of 700 m, making it the world’s second deepest tin mine. We saw a model of the tin mine in the Sungai Lembing museum, and it was only then we could visualise the extensiveness of the mine.
When tin prices collapsed in 1985 and the mine subsequently closed in 1986, 20 miners mined illegally at night, earning roughly RM 2000 – RM 3000 per day. The uncontrolled mining activities led to a humongous tunnel many times the standard size. Over a period of time, it’s believed that the miners made RM 1,000,000, and hence this particular chamber was called the “Million Dollar Chamber”. Can you imagine the value of RM 1 million back in 1986 ? That’s a lot of money there ! Perhaps equivalent to today’s 30 million ?
There was a guide with us who showed us traces of tin with his torch light within the Million Dollar Chamber.
The fun and educational visit in the tunnels took about an hour. It’s one of the most direct ways to experience Sungai Lembing’s history ! And after all, it’s not like every day you get to visit an underground tin mine, so go for it if you have a chance to visit the mine !
Sungai Lembing Mines Official Website
Opening Hours : 9 am – 6 pm Daily
Admission Price :
|Admission and Rates|
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