The Supreme Court has quashed all mining lease renewals granted by the state government in Goa and directed the mining companies to stop operations by 15 March.
Holding that the grant of mining lease extension by the state government is in violation of law and the Supreme Court's earlier order, an apex court bench asked the centre to grant fresh environment clearances to these companies if they are to continue operating.
The SC order is a big blow to Goa's mining industry and will bring mining operations in the state to a standstill as almost all mines in the state are operating on the second renewal of lease granted by the state government.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also directed the setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) of chartered accountants for assessing the amount to be recovered as penalty from these mining companies for violation of law.
The fresh ban comes after the Supreme Court's earlier order against illegal mining that shut the industry in Goa for more than two years from 2012 (See: SC administers Karnataka pill to Goa mining industry).
Goa, which mostly produces low-quality iron ore, used to export about 50 million tonnes of ore a year before the ban was imposed. Most of Goa's iron ore is exported to China as Indian steel companies do not have the technology to use them.
The latest ban is a blow for companies such as Vedanta Resources that have mines in the state.
Environmenalists have been campaigning for a ban on iron ore mining in the state on grounds of pollution and degradation of mines.