Fri, 19 Jul, 2019

Formulate policy on dumps by July: CM to mines dept

Assures to complete formalities for e-auction of ore in lease areas

15th May 2019, 02:07 Hrs

the goan I network

PANAJI  

Close on the heels of the State government’s move to explore unlocking some mining leases unaffected by the 2018 Supreme Court verdict invalidating 88 leases, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday opened another front in his government’s quest to restart operations in the State’s crucial economic sector - framing a policy to handle 

mining dumps.

At a meeting he held with Mines department officials and industry representatives, Sawant directed the former to formulate a policy for handling iron ore dumps by July.

Sawant also assured the mining industry stakeholders that his government would complete all formalities for e-auction of iron ore already mined and lying in the lease areas so that activity can begin in June.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Sawant said that mining dumps will be auctioned once the policy is in place.

Some estimates peg the size of dumps of ore rejects across Goa’s iron ore mining heartland to be in the region of 750 million tonnes.

Sawant said he has also issued instructions to the officials of the Department of Mines and Geology to resume the e-auction of the balance five million tonnes of iron ore which had been extracted before 2012 and was lying in lease areas.

“Base price for iron ore will be determined and from June e-auction will be re-started,” Sawant said, adding that his government will also simultaneously work on resolving the mining imbroglio.

Meanwhile, Sawant said the government is doing what is necessary to ensure public safety in the mining areas during the monsoon.

“Regarding safety of mines during the monsoon, precautions have been taken. The disaster management committee has already held a meeting and the concerned mamlatdars have been assigned to inspect the mining areas,” Sawant said, adding that assistance from the mining companies will be taken wherever needed.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) has welcomed the initiative of the State government to resume iron ore export activities. Kalavampara expressed confidence that the State government will work for resumption of mining while respecting all applicable Acts as well as Supreme Court judgements.

“The government is determined and focused on the immediate resumption of mining operations. After discussion with the chief minister, the industry is confident that this is of utmost importance to this government,” GMOEA secretary, Glenn Kalavampara said.

Iron ore mining, a crucial economic sector since the pre-1961 Liberation years had suffered a near death blow after two successive Supreme Court judgements in 2012 and 2018 had both brought the industry to a grinding halt.

An amendment to the MMDR Act in 2014, which mandated grant of mining leases only via the public auction route, had further complicated the State government’s quest to push the sector back to normalcy.

Industry stakeholders, meanwhile, are pinning their hopes on a pending matter before the Supreme Court which has challenged a Central law which cancels the mining concessions granted by the erstwhile Portuguese regime, retrospectively.

Now, the State government’s move to explore reviving certain leases not covered by the Supreme Court judgements and also to frame a policy for handling the iron ore reject dumps, have opened up additional windows of hope of revival for the industry.