Foreign funding behind Goa mining activism?

Goa exports 54 million metric tonnes of ore annually, the maximum exported by any state in the country.

Last Updated: Nov 22, 2011, 11:39 AM IST

Panaji: A Goa-headquartered mining firm has
apprehended that foreign funding is behind the activism
against the state`s iron ore mining industry, which is facing
the threat of a total ban on exports.

"We do not know if there is any foreign funding behind
all the activism against Goan mining," PK Mukherjee, the
Managing Director of Sesa Goa Limited, a subsidiary of Vedanta
Resources, said in a statement issued here.

"When the country wants to invite huge investment in the
mining sector through various provisions in the proposed MMRD
Act, such negative painting of all miners with the same brush
may do more harm than good in the medium to long-term," he
said without elaborating further on the issue.

The iron ore trade in the state is going through a tough
phase in the wake of an enquiry into illegal mining by the
Justice MB Shah Commission, which is expected to give its
report on December 1.

Mukherjee said it is imperative to protect the business
interest of all players as Goan miners will lose markets in
Japan, Korea and Europe, besides China, established over
years, if the ban is perpetuated.

He said there is no denial of the fact there are certain
illegalities in the mining sector and exports from the state
in particular.

"In fact, the industry itself wants the black sheep to be
identified and brought to justice," Mukherjee added.

Goa exports 54 million metric tonnes of ore annually, the
maximum exported by any state in the country.

Mukherjee said there is an urgent need to strengthen the
monitoring apparatus under extant regulations for all
activities related to mining, transportation and exports.

"Once the proper system and accountability for monitoring
are in place, all offenders will be automatically identified
and eradicated," he said, adding that a blanket ban on exports
is not a solution to the issue.

"It will lead to destabilisation of Goa`s economic
apparatus. These social and economic dimensions need to be
addressed before arriving at any decision about the future of
this industry," he added.

The Goa Mineral Ore Exporters` Association (GMOEA), a
representative body of iron ore mining and export companies of
Goa, expressed concern over a possible ban on iron ore exports
from the state, as reported in certain sections of the media.

GMOEA President Shivanand Salgaocar said the Goan mining
industry contributes approximately 35 per cent of the state`s

Mining as an industry attracts Rs 17,000 crore to the
state in the form of foreign exchange and brings Rs 6,000
crore in direct revenues to the state and the central

Close to 75,000 people in the state depend on mining and
allied activities to earn their daily bread and butter. Any
move to prohibit iron ore exports from Goa will not only be
detrimental to the interest of these people, but will also
severely hit the 18,000 trucks and 360 barge owners connected
with this industry, he said.

A ban on ore exports could lead to an economic blackout
in the state, Salgaocar feared.