Goa's mining industry body warns of lay-offs; seeks govt clarity

Goa's mining industry body GMOEA today sought clarity from the government on the commencement of mining operations in the state, warning that failure to do so could amount "harsh decisions", including layoffs in the sector.

However, GMOEA--the body representing the mine owners in Goa- ruled out any immediate job losses in the mining sector on account of Supreme Court quashing the second renewal of iron ore mining leases in the state.

"Companies are concerned and do not want to take any harsh decisions, including job layoffs and to ensure that it does not reach that point," Goa Mineral Ore Exporters' Association (GMOEA) President Ambar Timblo told PTI here.

"The industry is eagerly awaiting clarity from the government as to how and when mining operations may commence," he said.

As many as 88,000 to 89,000 workers are employed in the mining industry in Goa, Timblo said. "As companies, nobody wants to remove anybody as of now."

Last month, the Supreme Court had quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in the state in 2015.

The apex court had said it was giving time till March 15 to mining lease holders, who have been granted a second renewal in violation of its previous directions, to manage their affairs.

"However, they are directed to stop all mining operations with effect from March 16, 2018 until fresh mining leases (not fresh renewals or other renewals) are granted and fresh environmental clearances are granted," the bench had said.

The order of the apex court, Timblo said, was also one month old and no decision has been taken anywhere right now.

"We hope certain clarity will come and I personally say you that it should come in the next two months," he said.

This is the second big blow to the industry, which had faced closure in 2012 also following the directives of the Supreme Court.

The court had then taken cognisance of the M B Shah commission report, which claimed there was illegal mining worth Rs 35,000 crore in the state between 2005 and 2012.

The industry remained shut for nearly 19 months from October 2012 to April 2014, when the apex court finally allowed miners to operate while imposing several riders.

After lifting of the ban, it took another 18 months for the industry to actually start the work as the first fresh extraction took place in October 2015.

However, according to GMOEA "the job losses were very marginal at that time (2012-15)".

As of today, the total debt of mining-related dependent people, excluding companies, he said, was around Rs 6,000 crore.