Mining Goa

Goa’s iron ore industry going through a ‘tough time’ again


Goa’s iron ore industry once made the State India’s largest exporter of low-grade iron ore but today it is facing very tough times due to low prices in the international market. Fresh extraction of ore was supposed to commence by this month but due to present circumstances, miners aren’t keen to start.

“In some places, the extraction of iron ore has resumed after the monsoon, but there are no exports happening, which has brought the industry to a standstill,” one of the mine owners, Haresh Melwani told PTI. He has estimated that the situation will continue to be grim for the next two-three years.

The industry is facing another challenge with Goa Foundation, an NGO, moving the Supreme Court seeking a reduction in the annual cap for Goa from existing 20 million tonnes to 12 million tonnes.

17 mines are in the process of facing show-cause notices from the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) for invalid environment clearances (EC’s).

“The iron ore mining activities for the season are yet to resume in Goa,” Director of Mines and Geology (DMG), Prasanna Acharya was quoted by PTI. Mining was banned in Goa in 2012 by the Supreme Court. The ban was imposed based on the findings of MB Shah Commission report. The ban was lifted in April 2014 and an annual cap of 20 million tonnes on extraction of iron ore was set.

Operations in mining resumed only in August of 2015 after various clearances were obtained by the mine owners.

68 leases were renewed by the Directorate of Mines and Geology. The 20-million-tonne cap was distributed among them on a pro-rate basis. 33 mines resumed operations for the 2015-16 season, extracting 7.30 million tonnes of ore. The state earned a royalty of Rs. 43 crore from it.

In the last season from October 2016  to May 2017, the industry picked up and produced 25 million tonnes of ore, which included annual production cap of 20 million tonnes for the financial year ending March. The state has earned a revenue of Rs. 400 crore from it.

The GSPCB is in the process of issuing a show-cause notice to 17 mines for operating without valid environmental clearances during the last season. “We are in the process of issuing show-cause notices to 17 mines. These leases, which were granted environmental clearance under 1994 EIA notification, have no validity,” GSPCB member secretary Levinson Martins said. 10 mining leases have been approved by the board while six are awaiting renewal.