Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow
  1. NCK says:

    This town has got the boost with two universities in a new township (Bandar Seri Iskandar) nearby, though some people may say the universities are sited too far from the original town.

    There was even a proposal to build an international airport in the new township. The airport would double as the transit hub for global relief operations for Asia-Pacific region, and was said to be the first of its kind in the world. The plan fizzled out and Ipoh has to still make do with a smallish, old airport right in its centre while the other major cities have long had their airports relocated.

    • NCK says:

      I guess the airport proposal came at an inopportune time when battle was raging. A mountain of criticisms poured forth. Some critiques even had the audacity to say that having an airport at the city centre was ‘very convenient’ and should remain so. What rot politics could bring.

      • NCK says:

        Hi Ngai CO, I saw the two dredges, owners unbeknownst, at different points of my journey to Batu Gajah, while Tronoh lay further south. I have not been to Tronoh but Google Map tells me there is a clinic in town. The townfolks can use the hospitals in Ipoh about 30km away. I believe the proposed airport was meant to serve Ipoh and its surrounding areas, Tronoh included. You may recall that AirAsia steers clear of Ipoh because of the shortish runway at the existing airport, hence the airport’s underuse.

        • Ngai C O says:

          Hi NCK,

          Pardon me for jumping to conclusions re: the two dredges and thank you for the clarification.

          Firstly, Tronoh Mines operated two dredges before the mine closed down (Osborne & Chappel Story)

          Secondly, at the peak of the tin mining days, many dredges were working in the Batu Gajah and Tanjung Tuallang areas. Two that I know for sure were Kinta Kellas and Tanjong Tin.

          The musuem piece in Tanjung Tuallang belonged to Southern Malayan Tin Dredging.

          As for the airport issue, I personally do not think there is enough traffic to jusitfy a bigger one accomodate larger planes.

          Air Asia is a shrewd operator. It goes by volumes to make a profit. If there were large numbers of passengers on a regular basis in and out of Ipoh, it would fight for its share of the pie, never mind the short runway.

          London’s City has a very short runway, yet planes take off and land many times per hour.

          Remember Senai Airport, which was built to compete with Changi, we do not hear much of it.

          Malaysia has a reputation for prestigeous schemes. Fine if it can generate returns or benefit the nation. More often than not, it turns out otherwise.

    • Ngai C O says:


      The history of Tronoh Mines is already chronicled in the Ipoh World Database.

      I link below a Wikipedia article of Foo Choo Choon, who owned the mine and a few others. He was the Tin King of his time and was probably the richest man in the world.

      Tronoh Mine had the largest tin deposit in the Kinta Valley (quote the Osborne and Chappel Story)

      The mine was operating with two dredges as NCK observed before the mine closed down due to the exhaustion of its tin deposit.

      As for the black sand mounds, it was most likely Ilmenite (aka Amang) or tourmaline, a by product of tin ore recovery. If it was the former, which contains titanium dioxide, it would most likely be sold on to Amang Plants, of which there were hundreds if not thousands dotted in the Kinta Valley. Menglembu had more than it’s fair share.

      These Amang plants would recover any residual tin ore that was lost in the tin dressing plant. In addition, they would upgrade the black stuff to a saleable grade to be exported mainly to Japan at the time in question.

      Titanium dioxide is extracted from the Ilmenite. It is a very light and strong metal but it is expensive. I believe the metal is used in spaceships and is also used as a paint pigment.

      At one time Australia was the largest producer of Ilmenite in the world. This mineral was found in beaches. It was mainly exported to China.

      When tin dressing plants upgraded the tin concentrate to a saleable grade and discarded its by products of mainly sand, Ilmenite etc, they also made sure as little tin as possible was lost to the by products. The aim was to limit losses to less than 0.1 % tin ore to sand and Ilmenite. It might be harder to achieve with Ilmenite.

      Samples were taken regularly to assay for tin content in by products as part of quality control.

      Talking about Tronoh Mine Village, it only had a population of a thousand or so. I watched a third year TAR student video clip about the village to gain more insight into Tronoh. The clip talked about a lack of facilities like a hospital or a school. It is a tall order to expect these amenities with such a small population.

      It was also mentioned somewhere about an airport. Which investor would put money where there is no hope of a return? We do not need rocket scientists to work this out.

      Just look at Ipoh Airport. It was probably busier decades ago with its rudimentary facilities. Now it is another white elephant.


    • NCK says:

      Hi, Ngai CO. “Those were the days,” reminisced the airport of the times before the North-South Highway voided much of its existential purpose. The airport could find a new purpose in serving longer routes to popular destinations farther than KL (that are outside the country). To achieve this, it needs runways long enough to accommodate larger planes (like A320s, as AirAsia has intended, and larger). Time has changed. Operating small planes is no longer economical. When the airport serves more destinations and has more carriers coming to port, it will have better connectivity – passenger volume will increase further and even more carriers will come porting. A successful airport will benefit the city’s economy by bringing in more tourists and more investments.

      • Ngai C O says:

        Hi NCK,

        Operating airports like all businesses is about making a return.

        Airports ought to be privately funded so as to stand a better chance of success.

        Besides if things do not work out, no tax payer money is involved.

        Politicians are the wrong people to make business decisions.

        The days when the government could wily nily splash tax payer money to showcase their pet projects is over.

        The government just pulled the plug on the Sepang Formula 1.

        It used to and still does spend huge sums with no accountability.

        Just look at the civil service in every government department. Often one notices many either chattering away, on the mobile phone or waiting to serve.

        It that is not a waste of tax payer’s money, I don’t what is.

  2. sk says:

    Heard so much of it when I was in Ipoh. Didnt realised it was a village or town !
    Thought I be seeing a Tin Mine with Palong, Monitor Pump, Dulang Washers
    & Tin Mine Workers. When I was young, I did visit one of the Tin Mines, ate with the workers at their canteen & they drank water filtered from rocks, sand & sack cloth.
    When I was young, I was thrilled to watch muddy murky water coming out crystal clear from a sprout at the bottom of a large porcelain barrel.

  3. felicia says:

    We’ve had some feedback about this post on Facebook.

    “I remember the entrance and the place. Had a relation working in the mines, as a kid I remember the large football field in front of the workers quarters. There were no trees as I recall, as in large shady rainforest type of trees. The whole area was just hot and humid…and I was always fascinated by the black, shiny mineral sand that could be found in abundance everywhere.”

    “My recent visit suggests only a few tin mining companies sites still shows its former self, minus the workshops and offices and much or all of the senior officers/staff housing. These mining sites still show a little semblance: SMTD Degong, MTD Sg. Galah (now UITM Development Centre), and AA Tin.
    After SMTD Dredging, I drove to kg. Tersusun Air Kuning a couple of days ago. I was told this was before TRONOH MINES. Please correct me if it’s not. Only one or two buildings resemble its old quarters: others were more like kampung dwelling extended from its former quarters. There is a oil palm processing (?) plant near its entrance. The photo showing Merdeka arch theme is common to all mining companies in the Kinta Valley. Nostalgic photo.”

    And according to Kah Leong, this place was also known as ‘Hoong Moh Loong’.

    • NCK says:

      If you drove out of Ipoh before the 80s, you would see mounds and mounds of black sand laid perched near the trunk road. Two dredges could be spotted on the way to Batu Gajah (from Ipoh) when my family paid a visit to some relatives.

    • Ipoh Remembered says:

      Dear felicia, thanks for re-posting those Facebook comments here. I would not have been able to see them otherwise.

    • Kah Leong says:

      My grandparents emigrated from the Chinese GuangDong Province to Tronoh around the turn of the century (1900s). China was at a political mess and starvation was rampant. My grandfather set up a Chinese Medical shop (Kong Yik Tong) on New Street in Tronoh Town. Business was pretty good in those days, with all the Chinese tin mine workers. Western medicine was hard to get and expensive and the workers would prefer Chinese herbal medicine. When my grandfather died the shop was passed to my 1st and 3rd uncles. They sold the shop in the early 1980s when they became too old and all the children moved elswhere. My father was the youngest of 4 brothers. He went to study in Ipoh and became a teacher. My 2nd uncle was sent back to China (late 1940s) in our ancestor village for political reason. My grandmother made several trips back to China then and even bought land to build a house for each of the son. I met up with his children (my cousins) when I went to visit them in GuangDong a few years ago. They showed me my father’s house (if you can call it a house – a shed with no roof) and asked if I wanted it back. Needless to say I passed on the idea.
      My 3rd uncle married a Hokkien girl from Tronoh Mines village (Hoong Moh Loong) which is about a mile from Tronoh town. My grandmother used to sell clothes in a make-shift wooden hut near the Tronoh public toilets (Hoong Moh See Han). Hoong Moh is Cantonese for European which is translated to Red Hair. That was because the British used to manage the dredges there at that time.
      My siblings and I used to travelled to Tronoh (1960s) and just before the turn-off to Tronoh Town; on the main Lumut/Setiawan Road; there was a twinned coconut tree. It had a single trunk and about 3/4 way up, the trunk branched into to coconut trees. Somehow it had always stuck in my memory.
      We travelled to Tronoh for Chinese New Year and also for Ching Bing Festival to visit the graves of our ancestors. My grandparents and his brother and wife (Pak Kung and Pak Poh) were buried at the Chinese cemetery about a mile on the left of the Lumut/Setiawan Road after the turn-off to Tronoh. I am sure the cemetery is still there but my last visit there was some 40-odd years ago as I am no longer living in Malaysia. Some day I hope to visit it again but not sure if I can remember where are the graves. Well that is my story of Tronoh.

      • Ngai C O says:

        Hi Kah Leong,

        Thanks for sharing your history way back to China, to Tronoh to where you are. We are truly pendatangs and are proud to be so. In fact, even the people who call us thus are themselves in the same category.

        Who is better to inform us about Tronoh than a son of the area.

        Tronoh was a hot bed of communist activity from what I read elsewhere; hence the deportation of symphatisers and activists. One of my uncles from Telok Anson met the same fate but went to Hong Kong instead.

        ‘Hoong Moh Loong’, ‘Hoong Moh Lo’ or ‘White Devil’ in Hong Kong translated loosely as red haired people for the first two nicknames are white people generally referred to.

    • Jevan says:

      Hi Kamarul, You are right, it is used to be called Tronoh Mines Ayer Kuning. I am managing this FB page below and added this nostalgic photo in it. And yes Daniel, there is a huge field on the right of the photo. I lived there once. I am wondering who uploaded this photo so that I can ask for more.

  4. Charlie Choong says:

    Some people here seem to be a bit confused between Tronoh Town and Tronoh Mines New Village. Tronoh Town is on the Main road towards Lumut, and Tronoh Mines NV was originally the workers quarters situated within Tronoh Mines properties which has now been granted individual land titles for those who applied. Tronoh Mines NV is located on Degong Road, between Kampar and Tanjung Tualang.

    • NCK says:

      Hi Charlie Chong. My bad. I assumed Tronoh was the place going by the article’s title. Obviously I know nothing of the place. Tronoh Mines were in Tronoh according to an older article in this blog, but you seem to know the place depicted in the photo as Tronoh Mines New Village which I reckon is just about 10km west of Kampar.

  5. EG Ong says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong. Tronoh and Tronoh Miles new village are two different places. For local Chinese Tronoh is name as ‘Tin Lok’ which is between Batu Gajah and Lumut, Tronoh Miles village is name as ‘Tong Heng Kong’ which is between Jalan Kampar and Kampong Timah

      • Ngai C O says:

        Hi Ipoh Remembered,

        I read the joint study of the Guthrie Dawn Raid.

        There a few interesting indicators.

        i) Comparing Sakila’s style of writing
        and her co researcher’s, it seems that
        the latter wrote the report in
        collaboration with Sakila.
        ii) Such takeovers had already occurred
        twice before involving other
        companies on a much smaller scale.
        Therefore it was not a precedent as
        iii) Khalid Ibrahim was the executioner.
        The main puppet master/s were
        someone else
        iv) OCBC’s Tan Chin Tuan did not
        cooperate with the take over bid.
        v) It was claimed that the take over was
        a free take away.
        vi) The share price then was about 10
        pounds, equivalent to about 70 to
        80 ringgit in the exchange rate at the
        I am not sure why it is diluted to
        about 12 ringgit now, just over 2
        It might have something to do with
        restructuring and rights issues.

        At the time, there were already moves to Malaysianise British companies.

        The Osborne and Chappel Group, a well known but small player in the national
        economy had already embarked on a separation exercise between its London headquarters and the Malaysian operations. (OCBC had large stakes in the mining companies that O & C managed)
        They managed to do it on reasonably amicable terms from what I read in the Osborne & Chappel Story.

        It was the end of the hundred or so years of Osborne & Chappel history in Malaysia.

        As it was predominantly a Malaysian tin mining concern, its demise would come sooner or later due to the depletion of tin reserves in the country.

        In the meantime, the parent company smelt something was not right and closed shop. Its major share holders sold out their last stakes in Malaysia.

        The locally incorporated Osborne and Chappel tried to diversify its activities overseas without much success.

        The company still exists in Ipoh largely as mining consultants but a faint shade of its past.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>