Iron Ore Mining Ban Lifted in India’s Goa State, Where to Now?

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MetalMiner has been following the iron ore ban story in India quite closely. In Goa, the mining of ore was banned in September 2012 after findings of a judicial commission said the illegal mining operations over 12 years had led to massive losses to the exchequer.

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Goa is among India’s topmost ore-producing states, and nearly a fourth of its total revenue comes from mining. Because of the ban, suppliers from Australia and Brazil have stepped in the space left vacant for the last 18 months to supply the ore to clients.

The Goa Government is making haste to kickstart mining operations there. Recently, its mining department moved a file clearing 10 mining leases, and it is hoped most will come online soon. India’s Supreme Court, which had lifted the ban on Goa’s mining operations, asked the local government to form a policy before allotting the leases. Thus, the new Grant of Mining Leases Policy which was passed recently by the government.

Even if the 10 mining leases get the final green light from the state government, the mine owners will still have to get clearances from various other departments of the Indian federal government, like the environment ministry, before they can actually start ore extraction; a period of waiting that could well go up to 6 months or more.

Whether the restarting of mining will really take Goa, or for that matter any of the other states where mining was banned then restarted, back to the glory days remains to be seen. The international markets for Indian ore have shrunk. A majority of the domestic buyers have moved on to other suppliers and even the once-lucrative Chinese market is no longer the same, thanks to problems with its own economy.

The author, Sohrab Darabshaw, contributes an Indian perspective on industrial metals markets to MetalMiner.

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