Indian state of Goa shuts down iron mines

Of the 93 mines in the Indian state of Goa, 90 are iron ore producers and all of them have been force to halt operations after a government-backed inquiry said they were illegal and didn’t have the basic environmental permits to operate.

The investigation, led by retired judge MB Shah, had cost more than $6 billion in five years, according to Hindustan Times. 

Local authorities ordered all mines to fold up on Tuesday, but they said companies with suitable documentation would be allowed to restart soon.

The measure comes after the Justice MB Shah Commission report, which was tabled in parliament on Friday, said illegal mining was spread over 500 hectares, from which “several hundred acres” was forest and government-owned land.

According to the report, authorities and mining companies alike have looted natural resources and facilitated an "unrestricted, unchecked and unregulated export of iron ore to China", which made the exporters of ore "richer and richer".

Despite being the world’s third exporter of iron ore, India’s sector has not taken off as much as it could as iron ore producers have been rocked by illegal mining accusations.

A ban on iron ore mining was imposed in the southern state of Karnataka last year, while in Goa many licences have been cancelled.

In June a scathing report by Human Rights Watch deemed India's 2,600 mines "out of control" and pointed out "pervasive lawlessness in India’s scandal-ridden mining industry" and the collapse in enforcement of laws to protect local communities.

Image: Labourers transport coke to a local distribution point outside an illegal mine in India. Photo by Tom Pietrasik

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