The Indian province of Goa, known world over for tourism, was once also a well-known destination on India’s mining map.
But legal, environmental and political issues ensured the stoppage of mining operations there in 2012.
Though operations did resume to a degree in 2015, things have not picked back up speed to pre-2012 levels.
All that has now led Manohar Parrikar, Goa’s chief minister, to write to the Government of India (GoI), asking it to fast-track the complete resumption of mining in Goa.
The chief minister, in his letter to Indian Minister for Mines Narendra Singh Tomar, has said Goa’s mining sector needed an immediate “legislative cure,” according to a report in The Statesman.
What he has sought is an amendment of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. This will mean that current lease holders can continue mining. It would also allow the postponement of auction of the iron ore leases.
The Indian government is perturbed by the slowing down of the overall mining sector in India.
For example, a recent report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) pointed out that foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows had slowed down significantly, from U.S. $659 million in 2014-15 to about $36 million at the end of 2017-18. Mining’s overall contribution to FDI had declined from 2.06% to 0.08% in the same period.
For Goa, specifically, there were hopes expressed earlier that mining would resume full-scale by Oct. 1 this year, especially because even the province’s local government had unanimously passed a resolution a few months ago seeking the intervention of the Indian federal government. This resolution asked the government to suitably amend the local laws to allow mining leases to be operational till 2037, and also amend the central laws.
In 2015-16, for example, only 7 million tons of iron ore were exported, while the following year it rose to 20 MTA, the ceiling set by the Supreme Court of India.
But the local government’s decision to fast track the renewal of leases without following basic laid down rules led to mining coming to a complete halt from March 2018.
One of the affected mining companies is the Anil Agarwal-owned Vedanta Group. To express support for the chief minister’s demand, Agarwal recently tweeted “concern” over the imports of natural resources, and suggested that iron ore mining in Goa be restarted.
In his tweet, the executive chairman said iron ore exports worth billions from Goa had stopped, all of which had contributed to the value erosion of the Indian rupee versus the U.S. dollar.
In a tweet, which tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Agarwal added there was an urgent need to resume mining in Goa.