Millennium Post

Year into mining ban, Goa has 8 mt idle iron ore

About 7-8 million tonnes of iron ore are lying idle in Goa which can be exported if the Supreme Court ban in mining and transportation of ores is lifted, the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association said.

'I think 7-8 million tonnes of iron ore are lying idle in jetties, the Marmugao port and pit-head after the mining was banned in the state,' Goa Mineral Ore Exporters' Association secretary Glenn Kalavampara said on Friday.

He also said the association hopes that the apex court will soon decide on the matter. Goa, one of the major producers of the commodity, used to export low grade iron ore to countries like China before the ban was imposed last September.

'As the ban was imposed just after the monsoon last year, stocks, which were kept for exports, left idle,' Kalavampara said.

He also said that exports of the commodity from the state could earn foreign exchange, which would help financing of current account deficit.
Interestingly, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said on Thursday that the government was keen to revive iron ore mining and that the Mines Ministry would soon move to the Supreme Court seeking relaxation in the ban in ore mining.

'I think the orders are already being relaxed in case of Karnataka mines. I think some orders are expected in the case of the Goa mines, too. The idea is to get iron ore mining back on its feet,' Chidambaram had said.

Kalavampara said that it is a positive statement and hoped that the issue would get a favourable hearing in the apex court.

'It is a positive statement. I can't say anything more as the issue is in court. But, we hope that mining will start in the state as situation on ground is pretty bad,' he said.

The country, which had exported 110 million tonnes of iron ore in FY 2010, witnessed a drastic fall in exports to 16.35 million tonne last fiscal due to the mining ban in Karnataka and Goa. It also had implications for the steel industry as steel firms had to import ore last fiscal due to tight supply situation in the country.

Meanwhile, Goa government has recently decided to lift the suspension order on mining leases and also formed a special investigation team (SIT) of state police to investigate into illegal mining in the state. Three days ago, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had told reporters that the suspension order issued last year against the mining leases would be withdrawn in a phased manner, on case-to-case basis.

However, he clarified that the mines would be able to start only after the Supreme Court lifts the ban and Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) gives the environmental clearance for the mining leases.
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