Talk of mine closures in Goa to hurt steel firms

Talk of mine closures in Goa to hurt steel firms

New Delhi: Miners in Goa are bracing for state action against rule breakers that may involve mine closures, the head of an iron ore trade body said on Thursday. This follows the drive against illegal mining that led to a ban in Karnataka.

“There is talk that those who have not got the no-objection certificates from the chief wildlife warden might be served notices," said S. Sridhar, executive director of the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters’ Association. “But nobody in the industry has got any notification so far. Maybe it has not reached them."

Sridhar did not say how many mines could be in the dock, but the state has been investigating miners as has been done in Orissa and Karnataka.

Goa produces about 45 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore, mostly powdery, low-grade iron ore fines, but has a significant role in the foreign market as most of it gets exported to China.

Any bar on mining in Goa could see iron ore prices rising overseas, which will be mirrored in the Indian market as well and that could hurt steel companies in the country.

On Thursday, steel minister Beni Prasad Verma told reporters his ministry had written to the finance ministry asking for raising the export duty on iron ore to 30% from 20% so that steel makers don’t face a shortage of the key raw material.

A PTI report on Thursday said over 400 iron ore traders in Goa have come under the scanner after a preliminary inquiry by the Central government-appointed Shah Commission pointed to large-scale illegal mining in the state.

The state mines and geology department has summoned all the traders registered with it to verify the source from which they have been procuring the ore, the PTI report said.

PTI contributed to this report.