Sungai Lembing Tin Mines

The day after visiting the Elephant Sanctuary, my cousin and I visited the old tin mines in Sungai Lembing. The tin mines were in operation during the colonial era from the 1800s through to the 1980s. It was once one of the largest and deepest tin mines in the world. The mines eventually closed in 1986 when tin prices collapsed.

A tour guide, who was actually a friend of my cousin’s friend, told us about how the people living in the area at that time were glad of the work in the mines. I suppose they were given quite good money to take care of their families and put food on the table. I gained such a great respect for them just by being in the dark tunnels and learning about the history. They had only headlamps to guide them, as there were no electric lights. Despite that, they managed to dig up the minerals day in and day out.

The tunnels got hotter the deeper we went in. That’s why the miners back then barely wore any clothes, except pants for modesty and protective gears for safety. There were actually many levels underground but only one level was open to the public. There used to be a manual lift that carried miners through the different levels. They used bells to signal the person handling the lift where they wanted to ascend or descend. It’s amazing how complicated it seemed back then compared to how ridiculously easy it is now to operate an elevator.

I’ll just let the pictures do the talking now mostly because I can’t describe the place well enough to give it full justice. But then again, I don’t think the pictures can give full justice either but that’s the best you’ve got unless you decide to visit a tin mine, which I definitely recommend if you get a chance to do so.


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