Although Goa was once the country's largest exporter of low-grade iron ore, today it is staring at an uncertain future as the exports have virually come to a standstill owing to several factors including, poor prices in the international market.
The mining activities were supposed to pick up from this month, however, given the present circumstances, the miners are not keen to continue with fresh extraction of ore.
Some of them even say that the operations are unlikely to start on full for the next couple of years.
One of the mine owners, Haresh Melwani, said, "In some places, the extraction of iron ore has resumed after monsoon, but there are no exports happening, which has brought the industry to a standstill."
He predicted that the situation will remain grim for the next two-three years.
Besides, a fresh application moved in the Supreme Court by Goa Foundation, an NGO, seeking reduction in the annual ore production capacity from the existing 20 million tons to 12 million tons, has further aggravated the industry's problems.
Moreover, the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) is in the process of issuing show-cause notices to 17 mines in the state for "invalid" Environment Clearances (ECs).
Director of Directorate of Mines and Geology (DMG), Prasanna Acharya, said, "The iron ore mining activities for the season are yet to resume in Goa."
The Supreme Court had banned mining in all 90 mines in Goa from October 2012, based on the findings of the Justice M B Shah Commission report, which estimated a Rs 35,000 crore loss to the exchequer due to alleged illegal mining over 12 years. The apex court had lifted the ban in April 2014, but put an annual cap of 20 million tonnes on excavation.
The mining operations could actually resume in August 2015, after various clearances, including environmental, were secured.
The Directorate of Mines and Geology renewed leases of 68 mines, among which 20 million tons cap was distributed on pro-rate basis. However, for the season 2015-16, total 33 mining leases resumed operation which extracted 7.30 million tons of ore. The state earned a revenue of Rs 43 crore in the form of royalty.
The industry picked up in the last season- October 2016 to May 2017- around 25 million tons of fresh ore was produced, which include annual production cap of 20 million tons for the financial year ending March. The state earned revenue of Rs 400 crore in form of royalty.
The GSPCB, dealing with consent to operate under Air and Water Pollution Control Act, is in the process of issuing show cause notice to 17 mines for being operational without valid environmental clearance 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.
The board has granted consent to 10 mining leases for the season, while another six are awaiting renewal.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)