Bau, Sarawak

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Bau is located in Borneo Topography
Coordinates: 1°25′0″N 110°0′9″E / 1.41667°N 110.00250°E / 1.41667; 110.00250
Country  Malaysia
State  Sarawak

Bau is a gold mining town[1] in the Kuching Division of Sarawak, Malaysia. Smuggling with Kalimantan is also important to the local economy.[2][3]


Limestone cliffs of Bau.

On 1 May 1837, the Skrang Ibans invaded the Jagoi-Bratak Bidayuh settlement on top of Bratak Peak, killing over 2,000 Jagoi-Bratak Bidayuh men and taking 1,000 women captive. Panglima Kulow, head of Jagoi-Bratak Bidayuh community, and a handful of his followers survived the massacre. In 1841 James Brooke, who was then the newly installed White Rajah of Sarawak, was able to rescue some of the women taken captive. Each year on 1 May, descendants of the survivors of the 1837 massacre hold Jagoi-Bratak Day on top of Bratak Peak in Bau in memory of their ancestors. A memorial stone was erected on 1 May 1988, to mark the day.[4]

Gold mining[edit]

Gold began being mined in Bau in the 1840s. It was discovered by Chinese miners from Pangkalan Tebang.[5] After the Chinese uprising in 1857,[6] the mining operations were gradually taken over by The Borneo Company with the last Chinese syndicate being bought out in 1884.[5] In 1898, The Borneo Company introduced the cyanide process for extracting the gold,[5] which led to increased environmental pollution. The mines were closed in 1921 because most of the easily reachable minerals had been removed.[7] But during the Great Depression Chinese miners continued to work the mines.[8] The mines were reopened in the late 1970s when world gold prices soared, but closed again in 1997 when the Asian financial crisis started.[9] However, by 2002, Preston Resources began developing the mining operations formerly held by Malaysia's Oriental Peninsula Gold.[1] In 2006, Zedex Minerals purchased the controlling interest.[10]


The limestone cliffs in the area support a wide range of endemic flora, including the rare pitcher plant Nepenthes northiana.[11]

Notable people from Bau[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Preston buying into Sarawak goldmine" Sydney Morning Herald 16 July 2002;
  2. ^ "Army Foils Attempts to Smuggle Rice, Timber" Bernama, The Malaysian National News Agency 18 June 2003;
  3. ^ "Malaysia minister warns of ban if poultry smuggling to Indonesia continues" BBC News 5 November 2005
  4. ^ "Descendants mark Jagoi-Bratak Day." New Straits Times 10 May 2000;
  5. ^ a b c Kaur, Amarjit (February 1995) "The Babbling Brookes: Economic Change in Sarawak 1841-1941" Modern Asian Studies 29(1): pp. 65-109, p.73
  6. ^ Chew, Daniel (1990) Chinese Pioneers on the Sarawak Frontier 1841-1941 Oxford University Press, Singapore, ISBN 0-19-588915-0
  7. ^ Lucas, N. A. (1949) "The Production of Gold in Sarawak" Sarawak Gazette issue of 1 February 1949
  8. ^ Wilford, G. E. (1962) "The Bau Goldfield" Sarawak Gazette issue of 30 April 1962
  9. ^ Staff (2000) "Gold Mining in Sarawak Loses Shine for Now" Bernama, the Malaysian National News Agency 10 December 2000
  10. ^ Bromby, Robin (2006) "Finance: Pure Speculation: Burston to test his mettle in magnetite" Weekend Australian 1 July 2006, p. 37
  11. ^ Hansen, Eric (October 2001) "Where rocks sing, ants swim, and plants eat animals: finding members of the Nepenthes carnivorous plant family in Borneo" Discover 22(10): pp.60-68;

Coordinates: 1°25′N 110°09′E / 1.417°N 110.150°E / 1.417; 110.150