Goa Iron Ore Mining Seen as Salvation to the Indian State’s Economy

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Goa: It’s a province of India that used to produce almost half of its annual iron ore exports but was banned from doing so by India’s topmost court about 18 months ago, as the court  upheld allegations that most of the mining there was being done “illegally.”

The ban on mining was finally lifted Monday, April 21st. The Supreme Court of India said it was permitting the mining of iron ore in the tourist state of Goa but with an annual cap of 20 million tons. Within six months, an experts’ panel will decide on the final capacity that can be mined in the state.

The court has put in other conditions:

  • The experts’ panel will also advise how the extracted dumps are to be utilized
  • No mining lease would be granted around one kilometer of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries
  • Furtherore, there cannot be a renewal of leases (for mining companies) after 2007

The Supreme Court has also ordered Goa’s state government to formulate a scheme within six months for utilizing the funds generated by e-auction of the ore. Overall, outside of policy, the court is doing everything it can to ensure that a system is in place to carry out legal mining of the ore, benefits of which should reach the people of Goa, first and foremost.

The news of the lifting of the ban was welcomed by almost anyone connected with Goa; the local Government, and even more by Sesa Sterlite, India’s largest private iron ore exporter and part of the Vedanta Group, whose business is based out of the state. Mining accounts for nearly a fourth of Goa’s GDP and the livelihood of thousands of locals is directly dependent on it.

Following the news of the court order, Sesa Sterlite’s stock on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) surged 9.2 percent on Monday.

“Sesa Sterlite welcomes the news on lifting of the iron ore mining ban in Goa, announced by the Supreme Court today. We will work constructively with the central and state government authorities, to restart mining. Sesa Sterlite is committed to following responsible and sustainable mining practices,” it said in a statement.

Continued in Part Two.

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