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Artefacts of Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
1. ruins of the iron ore mine in Bukit Besi, Dungun

As a child of Kinta Valley, I have always been fascinated with mining operations. I love visiting tin mines here in Perak and was delighted when I had the opportunity to visit the former iron ore mine at Bukit Besi in Dungun, Terengganu.

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
2. the 50 m tunnel that allowed wagons carrying iron ore to pass through the hill

I do not know how accurate this information is but it is believed that the mine, the largest then in Southeast Asia, was discovered around 1916 but mining only began in 1927 by the Japanese. The iron ore was exported to Japan to be made into weapons and armaments.

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
3. storage room for iron ore

The iron ore mine was closed following World War II around 1941. The operations of the mine were then taken over by the British sometime in 1945. Apparently, the mineral was also exported to Japan.

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
4. storage room for iron ore

This mine was closed for good in 1971 when the mining company (EMMCO) found a better mining concession in Australia. From what I was told, the taxes imposed on them here were just too high.

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
5. iron ore was transported from this spot to the structure opposite via a pulley system, to be loaded onto trains and shipped to Dungun Port

While at Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine, what should you look out for?

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
6. the present office of Central Terengganu Development Authority (KETENGAH)

The first thing that greets you upon entering the mine area would be a tall chimney. That should be your landmark indicating that you have arrived at Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine. Too bad I do not have a photo of it.

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
7. History Gallery of the former iron ore mine in Bukit Besi

After checking out the History Gallery, you should drop by the ruins of the mine manager’s house. It makes a great backdrop for photographs.

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
8. framed photographs of old equipment

Next up would be the crushing plant. Go in a group as it had been abandoned and therefore, quite scary. Nearby is the tunnel where ore was conveyed by wagons out of the hill.

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
9. various minerals and ores

Within walking distance from this spot is the stockpile area.

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
10. clockwise from top left: exhibits of granite, magnetite & marble

Apart from these, there are more structures which were used in the process of mining iron ore. I feel that having a good guide to explain the history of the mine makes a world of difference to your visit.

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
11. ruins of the mine manager’s residence

Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine
12. ruins of the mine manager’s residence (side view)

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With love

21 thoughts on “Artefacts of Bukit Besi Iron Ore Mine

  1. I actually went there for a photoshoot once! But not for myself unfortunately. Would love to go back there with some of my outfits one day for a photoshoot!

  2. Emily, Thank you for a walk down memory lane. We lived in BB for 10 years as my father was an mechanical engineer for the mine. We arrived just before Merdeka and left soon after the formation of Malaysia. The only way to Dungun was by the company train in those days and the beach at Sura. Both my brother and me attended the school at BB and enjoyed carnival days on the Padang. BB in those days were very isolated and my mother was airlifted by airforce helicopter because of complications and my brother and sister,twins,were born at Bungsar hospital KL. I hope to revisit BB sometime in 2017.

  3. Hi Alan,

    Am glad to know that you are making plans to visit your childhood playground this year. Hope you will have a fruitful trip!

  4. Thank you Emily for the article.
    Am glad to know that the latest response is Alan. on
    Jan 20th 2017.
    I was born in BB. Left BB in 1967.
    Do you have contact of Alan.?
    If possible I hope to revisit BB this year 2017 too.

  5. Hi, I was born in BB in 1959 and have been trying to find some of the former residents. My family moved out in ’71 when it closed down. If you have any records or would like any info, please contact me. My family name is Shore.


  6. Unfortunately I did not visit BB in 2017.
    Time fly.
    Now planning for next year 2019
    whether arrangement can be successful.

  7. I grew up in Bukit Besi 1955 till 1965. Left in 1966 when the company closed down. Moved to the west coast.

  8. List of some of my classmates in Bukit Besi English School.
    Head Mistress was Mrs. Tan
    1. Merveen Scott
    2. Dennis
    3. Kassim.
    4. Bakar.
    5. Tang Eng Huat
    6. Lam Poh Wan.
    7. Nalini.
    Class of 1964 Standard Six

  9. Ms. Emily,
    I am currently visiting Tanjong Jara with my family and a friendly local gentleman said that Bukit Besi is a worth visit. I had no former knowledge of the place and once we were there we enjoyed jumping in the water. I did notice that there was a train carriage on the side of the road and started investigating on Bukit Besi later in the evening. What a wonderful history the place has! We have missed all the sites that you suggested going but they are for the next visit for sure! And I loved reading some comments of the former residents of Bukit Besi! What wonderful stories they have to tell! Thank you!

  10. Hi Akiko. Thank you for getting in touch via comment. Am glad to know that you enjoyed your visit, but totally understandable that you weren’t able to explore the area during this visit. Yes, time to plan for another one, seeing that you are also interested to learn about the mining history in this area.

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