SC administers Karnataka pill to Goa mining industry

Goa's iron ore miners may have to shut operations for a couple of years thanks to a Supreme Court-appointed panel's prescription of the "bitter Karnataka pill" and recommendation that leases found involved in substantial illegality be scrapped.

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) had suggested a number of measures, among them a survey and demarcation for violations, a macro-level environmental impact study for carrying capacity threshold, cap for each of the state's four main mining talukas, and a reclamation and rehabilitation plan for each mine before even legal miners were allowed to resume business.

All mining operations including trading of extraction dumps would be banned till then.

Mines in Karnataka, where mining was banned in July 2011 are currently going through the exercise. Only one mine has actually resumed operations. Punitive action against erring officials and compensation for defaulting leases would be spelt out later by the CEC.

According to Ambar Timblo of Fomento Resources, a leading iron ore miner in Goa, the most important response would be that of the state and the central ministries, since in effect the CEC was taking over their job. The company exported 15 MT of iron ore from Karnataka and Goa in  2010-11.

The Supreme Court's strictures yesterday jolted the iron ore and mining industry in the state.