Goa iron ore continues crossing borders suspiciously

Panaji: Goa`s mining industry, in the last six months, has reported almost 10 per cent of its Iron ore being exported under doubtful circumstances despite being under strict surveillance for illegal mining activities.

Records indicate that between April-November, 2011, total 24 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) Iron Ore was exported from both the ports in Goa – Panaji port and Mormugao Port Trust (MPT).

Of the entire export, only 21 MMT was registered with the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) and the rest remains unclassified, GMOEA Secretary Glenn Kalavampara said. GMOEA is a body of exporters in the state, which has biggest miners as its members. Now suspicion shrouds 3 MMT of Iron Ore, which was exported by small time traders, usually termed as fly-by-night operators.

Goa witnessed unprecendented regulatory measures by the state government after Justice M B Shah Commission began its probe into illegal mining activities.

Around 400-odd traders, who were linkages between exporters and mine owners, were summoned by State Mines and Geology department following which it was found that many of these operators worked with fake addresses.

Goa government also tightened noose around the ports after it was revealed that of the total 54 million metric tonnes ore sent through Goa ports, around 7 MMT was unclassified.

The situation was expected to be improving this financial year after much discussion on the unclassified ore but it remained the same. The ore which is not registered with GMOEA has a question-mark on its source, which means that there is a possibility that it could have been extracted illegally.

The mining industry in the state has been undergoing a slowdown after Justice Shah Commission`s enquiry into the illegalities of the trade. The figures from State Mines and Geology department revealed that royalty of Rs 530 crore has been collected between April-November, 2011, which is almost Rs 120 Crore lesser compared to last year.

GMOEA figures reveal that exports were down by almost 10 per cent from April to September, 2011 and it went down further to 18 per cent in October and November, 2011. Goa has 90-odd mining leases through which iron ore is sent through destinations like China, which consumes 90 per cent of the state`s exports.