sign in a cave in Laos

15 December 2007

Tin mining relics

Tin mining is one of Malaysia's oldest and most successful industries. In the 1600's, this industry was beginning to thrive in Kedah, Perak and Selangor. In the heyday of tin mining in the mid 19th century Perak was one of the most active areas. There was an increased demand for tin by Chinese and Europeans and at the same time, extensive and rich deposits of tin were found in Perak and Selangor. With the arrival of labour from China and influx of capital, the tin industry rapidly expanded to become the largest in the world. More than 3000 Chinese arrived annually to work the mines. Tin was also mined from some caves, especially in Perlis.
Today very few mines are working and most of the artefacts are lost. There are only about 3 dredges left.

1960s postcard

dredge seen from air approaching KLIA in Selangor -

Many of these pictures are old photos that I have scanned so the quality is not good (and I haven't bothered to play around with any photoshop type software), but they are here for the record.

Ipoh museum display -

 gravel pump used in New Lahat mine
trolley used in 1925

The next few photos were taken at New Lahat mine in Perak in 1997 -

 buckets of ore

 the kitchen

"pig basket" strainer, now abandoned

 palong, a series of sluices

a "pig basket" in this revolving steel drum the gravel is broken into small pieces -

Open cast pit of New Lahat mines

tin mine workers -
Tin mine Perak
 Tin mine Ulu Selangor
Merapoh Mine near Kpg Kepayang in Perak, 1997 -

jets of water under pressure break up the tin-bearing soil

the extraction area where jets of water under pressure are shot at the sides of the mine to break up the tin-bearing soil

the muddy mixture collects in a pool, called a sump

controlling the water monitor

from the sump the slurry is pumped up to the palong -
the slurry
channels leading to the sluices (above),
overview of the channels and sluices -

gravel containing the tin

For more recent photos taken on the Perak dredge see tin dredge in Perak.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission


  1. Yes, I had seen this one about a year ago. I worked in a palong tin mine before in Pangkalan, Ipoh, now a township.

  2. Open tin mining site - use water jet to send debries and water to the palong.

  3. Palong is to trap heavier tin and the rubbish ( stone and sand) is washed down steam.

  4. Wash House is the final seperation and heat drying the tin for packing into small bags for sales.

  5. This is called the pig stomach and the pipe attached to it is called pig intestine. Most of the nameing parts are somewhat associated to pig.

  6. Thanks for all the info. Yeh, it's funny the parts have pig names, I wonder why.

  7. Like you the favourate food of the tin mining people is also pork. Every day at lunch time one or two pigs ! Every one scrambled for the fat part, the lean meat was reluctantly taken. Those components resemble the like of a pig.

  8. Fantastic coverage about Malaysian mining heritage.