Goa plans 6 e-auctions by Sept end to sell all 'illegal' ore, starts today

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 08 September 2015 13:16 IST

Goa government is planning to sell nearly 7 million tonnes of iron ore by month end, with six e-auctions planned in next 20 days, beginning from today.

The first e-auction of this last phase, of 1.1O MT of iron ore, is being held today.

The government so far disposed off 5.7 MT of iron ore through seven e-auctions held so far, fetching revenue of total Rs 800 crore.

The balance of unsold iron ore is around 6.8 MT.

Mines director Prasanna Acharya told goanews.com that the department has planned three e-auctions so far - today, 10 September and 15 September.

The government wants to clear all the iron ore through e-auctions before fresh mining operations begin, hopefully from October.

“We are tentatively planning three more e-auctions – 22, 25 and 29 of this month”, said Acharya.

Little more than one MT of ore would be e-auctioned every time in order to clear the total quota, he added.

Today’s e-auction would sell the ore stacked at the mining lease sites at Codli, Shirgao, Costi, Bicholim, Surla, Vagus Jetty, Cudnem plot and Tollem plant. 

The ore is being e-auctioned as per the Supreme Court guidelines, when the site inspection identified almost 12.5 MT of iron ore – lying unclaimed - at the lease sites, plants, few plots as well at the jetties.

 

While millions of tonnes of iron ore was already transported illegally, the government could seize the rest of the ore after the Supreme Court banned all the mining activity three years ago, following Shah Commission report on illegal mining.

The government now e-auctions this ore through Metal Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) under supervision of Supreme Court appointed monitoring committee.

“The price we get is definitely lower than the market rate, which has fallen further. But then the money comes straight to the government treasury”, Acharya observes.

The ore varies between 49% Fe to 61% Fe, due to which the price varies.

Though government has already auctioned 5.7 MT of ore, hardly 2.5 MT of ore of it is being lifted so far while almost 3.2 MT of the ore is still lying, either at the lease sites or the jetties.

The government has directed the buyers to transport the ore lying at different places, but the buyers cite fallen price in the international market as a reason not to lift the ore.

Vedanta has already launched mining operations while other three companies – Fomento, Salgaoncar and Chowgules – have also announced that they would start mining from October.

However, even Vedanta plans to first clear around 3.5 MT of ore lying at its Codli mine, before the actual extraction begins.

The major hurdle, claim the miners, is the price-crash, especially in the Chinese market for 58% Fe ore Goa exports.

The Goa Mineral Ore Exporters’ Association says the price has fallen by almost 36%, due to which mining may not take off if the government does not reduce export duty.

According to GMOEA, mining in Goa attracts a 30% export duty on 58% Fe grade iron ore, a 15% royalty paid to the state, a 5-15% levy in the form of a district mineral foundation tax and a 10% levy on the export price of iron ore which goes to the Goa Mineral Ore Permanent Fund Scheme.

 

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