Goa CM appeals to mining industry to resume ore extraction

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Panaji, Feb 29 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Monday urged the influential iron ore mining companies to resume ore extraction and stop staff retrenchment after sops announced in the 2016-17 Union Budget proposals.

An earlier 10 percent reduction in export duty by the finance ministry at the instance of the BJP-led coalition government in Goa had failed to get the industry cracking, Parsekar told the media here.

“Through the media, I would request mine owners to expedite extraction of ore… the fear of retrenchment among workers should stop… some (workers) have been issued notices, some are being asked to take voluntary retirement; I have heard this. They (mining companies) should not do this,” the chief minister said.

In his budget speech in the Lok Sabha on Monday, union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced dropping of 10 percent tax on fine grades of ore with 58 percent iron content or less and abolition of the 30 percent levy on lower-grade lumps.

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The sops are expected to largely benefit Goa’s mining companies which have been historically exporting ore of Fe (iron) content below 58 percent.

Parsekar said earlier this year, the government slashed export duty by ten percent, but despite that the mining companies had been unable to shore up ore extraction.

All mining activity was banned in Goa from 2012 onwards following multiple closure orders from the state and central governments. It was eventually banned by the Supreme Court the same year, after the Justice M.B. Shah Commission exposed a Rs.35,000 crore scam in Goa’s mining sector.

The mining activity eventually resumed in 2015, but falling global prices gave a setback to the companies involved in extracting and exporting ore.

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