Goa mulls banning all new iron ore projects

India’s Goa government will soon announce whether it will ban all iron ore projects and new operations in the state, a top mining official said.

In his affidavit filed before the Supreme Court of India, reports The Deccan Herald, Goa principal secretary of mines, Rajani Kant Varma, said efforts should be focused instead on exploiting existing low-grade iron ore dumps worth billions.

"The state government is also contemplating, as of today, to completely ban all fresh excavation of mineral ore," he said in the legal documents filed in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking action against widespread illegal mining and any digging below the water table.

However, the official said the PIL does not openly impose any restriction to going beyond the water table, neither does it fix any depth below which mining should not be carried out.

“Therefore it would be unfair to state that mining in Goa should be restricted to a depth that does not go below the water table; it would be an impossible condition and would amount to indirectly banning all mining in Goa,” he said.

A recent boom in iron ore demand and newer technologies have made harvesting of low grade reject ore easier, according to Goa’s government.

Harvesting of dumps was deemed illegal by the former administration, but weeks after coming to power, the new official announced Goa would open the dumps for excavation, a move resisted by the central government.

Image: Illegal mine in India, courtesy of Kuldeep Singh Chauhan

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