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GoaChronicle.com LEAKS: 750 Million Tons of low grade Iron-Ore in Dumps

Directorate of Mines & Geology, Goa admitted to existence of 750 million tons of low grade iron-ore in dumps at various mines in Goa at a Union Ministry of Mines meeting held on October 5, 2011. GoaChronicle.com highlights details of that particular meeting… The meeting was attended by Ranjan Sahai, COM, IBM, B. Panigrahi, RCOM, IBM Kolkata, S. Tiu, RCOM, IBM Goa, Arvind Loliyekar, Director of Mines, Government of Goa, and Hector Fernandes, Senior Geologist, Government of Goa and Anil Subramanian, Under Secretary, Ministry of Mines.

The meeting was called for to discuss the concerns raised in the PIL no 31/2011 filed by M/s Goa Foundation in the High Court of Bombay (Panjim Bench) on excess production of iron ore in Goa in violation of the limits set out in the Environmental clearances and other clearances under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and other laws.

The representatives from State Government stated that from the analysis of their records it appears that the excess production alleged in the various cases filed before the Courts is seemingly largely due to inclusion of production of iron ore from dumps from in the total production figures for a particular year.
It was further stated that the State Government estimated that was a total of about 750 million tonnes of material in the dumps as per details obtained from the various mining lease holders in an assessment of the dumps stocks lying within the State, which was a result of 30-40 years of mining. Apparently, at that time, since cut-off was higher, sub-grade material was being dumped along with waste. In many cases of old Portuguese concessions, the lease area was unable after a time to accommodate the material and dumping was done even outside the lease area. It was also stated in the context of the legal status of the production of iron ore from dump that some lease holders had applied for environment clearance/ State Pollution Control Board clearance for extraction of material from dumps lying outside the lease area, which were under consideration. Further, as per legal opinion obtained by the State Government, the Advocate General of the State of Goa had opined that handling of material in such dumps may not require Environment clearance since it was not one of the activities specified under the Statue as regarding Environmental clearance.
Representatives of the Indian Bureau of Mines stated that in an analysis of the production data for the years 2006-07 till 2009-10 in respect of 12 mining lease holders mentioned in the PIL, it was noticed that the Run-of-Mines (ROM) production reported was within the production target approved in the mining plan, except in five cases of excess production (beyond the 20% limit allowed by the IBM) where the IBM had already taken action (by allowing modification of mining plan in terms of the provisions of MCDR, 1988) or had issued violation notices. IBM however clarified that the report of the production by lease holders only related to leases and not to dumps, reporting of which was apparently being done to the State Government.

After discussion on the implications of the issues raised in the PIL, in order to clarify the matter, and help formulate a response to the PIL, following action points emerged:
• IBM would check all the Mining Plans approved since the concept came into operation in the year 1988 to ascertain the quantity of waste and sub-grade ore allowed to be dumped inside the lease area and outside the lease area, the procedure adopted for the purpose and whether Environmental clearance was obtained by the lease holder for such Mining Plan by the lease holders, and furnish detailed report by 18th October 2011 to the Ministry.
• State Government of Goa would furnish latest status on the action taken on the Report of the Monitoring Committee under the Chairmanship of Chief Conservator of Forests constituted by the Goa Government (attached as Annexure F and G to the PIL) by the 21st October 2011.
• State Government of Goa would furnish a copy of the opinion given by the Advocate General, State of Goa, and cite any instances where the AGs opinion have been used in the Court or in public domain, by the 18th October 2011,
• State Government would reconcile the statement on excess production attached to the PIL as Annexure C and furnish details on the action taken by the State Government on violations. The State Government would also provide the details of dumps production from the year 2005 onwards. The State Government to also give the status of the leases and specific particulars if they are working under deemed extension.
• State Government would give details on the total Karnataka ore used for blending in the State of Goa, and details on the Karnataka ore exported through Goa, during the period 2005-06 to 2010-11, year-wise.
• Ministry of Mines would obtain data on the Karnataka ore coming into Goa from Ministry of Railways and State Government of Karnataka, and IBM would reconcile the data

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