August 3, 2018 / 3:53 PM / in 3 months

Goa to push central government to restart mining

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the open pit of Sesa Sterlite iron ore mine in Codli village in Goa, December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Krishna Das

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Goa on Friday passed a resolution asking the state’s chief minister to push the central government to amend laws to restart mining across the state, a state lawmaker said, months after the country’s top court quashed mining permits.

The resolution seeks to amend laws in Goa so that existing miners can continue to extract ore for about 20 years. It is not immediately clear if a change in the law can supersede the court’s verdict.

Mining of low-quality iron ore came to a halt in March over allegations of illegal mining. India’s supreme court in February asked the government to issue fresh licences and cancel existing ones, impacting tens of thousands of jobs.

If a law change is allowed and cleared by the Modi government, it could bring relief to multiple mining companies including London-listed Vedanta Resources, which have been pushing to resume mining in the state.

“We requested the chief minister to speak to committee of ministers and resolve the issue,” Nilesh Cabral, the member of legislative assembly who raised the issue in the assembly, told Reuters.

Vedanta, the biggest iron ore miner in the state, said in March it would likely record an impairment charge of up to $600 million following the closure of its iron ore business in Goa.

The billionaire Anil Agarwal-controlled company, the biggest iron ore miner in the state, has also been hit by the closure of its copper smelter in Thoothukudi over alleged environmental violations.

Manohar Parikkar, the Chief Minister of Goa who served as India’s defence minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, will be in Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the issue with the federal government, Cabral said.

“About 50,000 people linked to the mining business, their families, and even port activities have been hit by the closure,” he said, when asked about the rationale behind the resolution.

Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; editing by David Evans

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