Current Affairs

Goa’s draft ‘mining policy’ out

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has presented the draft mining policy before the Legislative Assembly. The policy recommends capping the iron ore exports at 45 metric million tonnes a year. This would include import of 25 MMT of rejected ore from `dumps’. Environmental degradation across the coastal state due to excessive mining has led to public outcry in the recent years.

Suggestions can be submitted till September 10, after which it will be finalized. In an important provision, the policy allows export of ore from `dumps’, the stores of low-grade iron ore left at the mining sites, which had been banned in 2011.

“As some of the dumps are within forest areas, including sanctuaries…the state government will seek special approval, if required, from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for the removal of these dumps,” the policy reads.

The prices of low-grade iron ore in these dumps are very volatile, it says, adding that “current market situation may not last for long”, and hence this ore should be sold off. Iron ore futures are traded on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), and the prices for 2012, 2013 and 2014 show a downward trend, making it imperative to use the opportunity available before the export of dumps becomes commercially unviable after 2015-2016, the policy says.

The policy also mentions that Goa will impose a general limit of 45 MMT on the ore that can be transported along the public roads in a year, subject to more specific limits based on the condition of the roads in each area.

“This limit will be reviewed periodically as and when dedicated mining transport corridor is made available, or when carrying capacity of the road is enhanced.” Department of Mines and Geology will set up expert panel for determining the optimum level of fresh mining. Till the panel works it out, no fresh public hearings for Environmental Clearance of mining projects would take place.

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