Mining halted as monsoon approaches Goa

Panaji: With the arrival of pre-monsoon showers in Goa, mining activity in the coastal state will remain suspended for the next four months, an official has said.

“The mining season that began in October last year has officially come to an end from yesterday,” director, Directorate of Mines & Geology (DMG), Prasanna Acharya told reporters here last evening.

Though Goa received pre-monsoon showers on Wednesday, monsoon is expected to set in within a week.

“No activities related to mining, including extraction, transportation, will be permitted during the monsoon season from June 1 to September 30. The department has also issued formal orders to the mining firms asking them to stop the activity,” he said.

Another DMG official said around 25 million tonnes of fresh ore was produced during the mining season between October 2016 and May 2017, including the annual production cap of 20 million tonnes for the financial year ending March.

A total revenue of Rs 400 crore was earned during the season through mining royalty, he said.

During the season, a total of 41 mining leases remained operational until April 28 while the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) suspended operation of 12 mines in Sonshi village due to dust pollution, the official said.

He said the Board declined to grant ‘consent’ to operate to these 12 mines after they failed to adhere to the conditions laid down “in the consent related to environmental pollution”.

As per the information available with DMG, for the mining season 2015-16 (which commenced in November 2015), 33 mining leases resumed operation extracting a fresh ore of 7.30 million tonnes.

The state earned revenue of Rs 43 crore in the form of royalty from these leases.

“As far as e-auction of stacked ore is concerned, it did not receive good response,” he said, adding that for the current season, DMG conducted only three auctions and earned revenue of Rs 14.50 crore.

After the mining activity resumed in Goa following lifting of a ban by supreme court in 2015, DMG conducted 21 e-auctions under which over 12 million tonnes of ore has been sold so far, he said.

There is another three million tonnes of ore stacked at various site, awaiting e-auction, the officer said.

Just as the current (2016-17) season was about to conclude, the ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) sought comments from various stake-holders over a proposal mooted by an expert committee of the supreme court seeking to increase the iron ore production cap from 20 million tonnes to 35-38 million tonnes.

The state government recently pleaded before the supreme court, seeking rise in annual production cap, the official said, adding that the matter is expected to be heard next month.