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CM exploring options to resume mining in State

Panjim: Tapping the iron ore mines not covered by 2018 Supreme Court order, e-auction of minerals lying at the site, handling of dumps are some of the options that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is exploring to resume the mining activities in the State providing relief to the dependents.

Sawant on Tuesday held meeting with officials of Directorate of Mines and Geology (DMG) and stakeholders to explore options to provide livelihood to the people dependent on mining industry, by resuming the activities, which are halted since February 2018. Secretary Mines Daulat Hawaldar and Director Mines Ameya Abhiyankar were present for the meeting.

Chief Minister has directed Mines department to formulate policy to handle dumps by July so that the mining activities can be resumed. The iron ore rejects amounting to 750 million tonnes are lying in various leases, which the government now intends to handle it. “A proper policy will be drafted. Directions are issued to Mines Department to prepare the policy by July. We want to ensure that mining activities resume,” Sawant told media persons after the meeting.

In a bid to handle the dumps, government will have to obtain the Environmental Clearance from Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).

Highly placed sources confirmed that CM has so far held three meetings with the mines department officials to work out solution to resume the activities while adhering to Supreme Court order. “Whatever solution has to be worked out should be within the scope of Supreme Court order. CM wants to take all precautions to ensure that there are no further legal hurdles,” sources said.

The Apex Court through a judgment dated February 7, 2018 set aside the second lease renewals granted to 88 mining leases while directing the Government to stop operations.

Sources said that government has already begun working with experts to find a legal solution for the current impasse on 88 mining leases arising out of the SC verdict.

“Also, other options like tapping the mines, which were not covered by the SC, is been explored. There are around 18 mining leases, which were not part of SC verdict and can be allowed to operate till 2020. Government is working on that proposal” sources said adding the present cap of 20 million tons would he equally distributed amongst these 18 leases.

Sources revealed that government also wants to resume the e-auction of balanced ore, which is lying at the site, extracted before 2012 Supreme Court order. Of the total 15 million tonnes ore, half the ore is yet to be auctioned. Nearly 5 million tonnes of ore is yet to be auctioned.
The auction process was halted after Government found no takers for the low grade ore, owing to declining international market prices and local issues.

Government will soon be filing its affidavit in Supreme Court in the abolition matter, stating that life of leases be considered from 1987. [H]

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