Mon, 27 May, 2019

All mining dumps belong solely to State govt: CM

Says will facilitate operationalising 18 valid mining leases post-monsoon

16th May 2019, 02:02 Hrs

the goan I network

PANAJI

The dumps of iron ore rejects which have aggregated into massive mounds commonly known as mining dumps across Goa’s hinterland mining heartland all belong to the Goa government which will soon e-auction them earning the State huge revenues, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Wednesday.   

Sawant, who was addressing a press conference related to his Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign for the May 19 Panaji bypoll at the party headquarters here also said that his government will facilitate operationalising 18 mining leases which are valid in the post-monsoon mining season this year.   

Sawant said these 18 mining leases have a validity up to 2020 and do not come under the purview of the Supreme Court order which in 2018 had cancelled all the operational mining leases in Goa.   

According to available estimates, 733.71 million tones of iron ore dumps are lying at around 300-plus geographical locations in the State.   

Sawant claimed that the ore in these dumps is high-grade and exportable ore. Though many mining lease holders and operators have paid royalty to the government for dumping the rejects in government land, Sawant claimed these dumps are totally owned by the government. 

Over the last year or so, the State government is desperately looking for a legal remedy to restart the mining business but the issue is caught in legal tangle in the Supreme Court. 

A favourable decision by the Apex court in a pending matter involving VS Dempo Pvt Ltd and some other companies, who challenged a central law invalidating ‘mining concessions’ granted by the erstwhile Portuguese regime, is one avenue that the beleaguered sector is pinning its hopes on to re-start operations.   

The Supreme Court had in its verdict in February 2018, set aside the Goa government’s decision to renew some 88 mining leases and declared them invalid. The mining sector has come to a standstill from then on.   

A new window of hope has now been opened by the Goa government which is looking to operationalise 18 leases not covered by the Supreme Court in its 2018 decision.   

A third avenue is Sawant’s assertion that dumps of iron ore rejects would be e-auctioned for exploitation. Experts however say mining the dumps for iron ore will entail seeking permissions including environmental clearances from the Centre.