Half of Goa's iron ore exports in 2011 were illegal

Half of Goa's iron ore exports in 2011 were illegal

More than 43 per cent of the record 54 million tonnes of iron ore shipped out of Goa last year came from unauthorised mining operations. In 2009-2010, over a third of the ore exported — most of which is going to build China — was also illegal.

The environment NGO — Goa Foundation — which has sourced the data from the Union Ministry of Mines and an affidavit recently filed in the Bombay High Court by Goa’s director of mines Arvind Loliyekar, said the huge scale of illegal mining is going on in Goa despite government supervision called for a high level CBI enquiry.

Goa Foundation also found discrepancies in statistics provided by the Centre and state government. While the Indian Bureau of Mines said 114 mining leases operated in Goa in 2009-2010, Loliyekar said only 91 of them were running. “This means that the director of mines was not aware of the existence of 23 working leases. What happened to the ore produced by these leases and their royalty payments?” GF director Claude Alvares asked.

According to Loliyekar’s affidavit, 48.38 million tonnes of ore was produced last year. But 54.03 million tonnes were exported. “The affidavit does not disclose the sources from where unaccounted 5.65 million tonnes was obtained. Obviously no royalty was paid on this. The sources of this ore are very important to ascertain that it was not extracted from illegal mines,” said Alvares.

Illegal excess ore produced by the industry as a whole was only 2.23 million tonnes in 2009-10 and 2.32 million in 2010-11, the state government claimed. But the reality was different, with some leases being over exploited, said Alvares.

Excess production in fact shot up last year with 31 mining leases producing 27 million tonnes, 12.24 million tonnes above the limits specified in their environment clearances.