Paralysis in iron ore mining hurting industries, people sentiments : Anil Agarwal

UDAIPUR: Anil Agarwal on Wednesday tweeted on iron ore issue, “Paralysis in iron ore mining hurting industries and people sentiments, has put Goa and Karnataka economies in shambles, leaving 100,000 jobless.”

Anil Agarwal - PictureWhen Goa mining delegation met Prime Minister and asked for help, the PM said, “while environmental concerns should be sincerely addressed, all should remember that poverty is the greatest polluter”. Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram statement on iron ore mining ‘to find a way to export iron ore and restart iron ore mining’ is already more than 3 months old.

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma too spoke on removing the ban by stating that ‘we don’t want ban to continue and all mining activities are not illegal’ and stressed upon iron ore export. But these statements have given no reprieve to the iron miners in Goa and Karnataka. Their vows do not seem to end.

Anil Agarwal, Vedanta Chairman tweeted, ‘Paralysis in iron ore mining hurting industries and people sentiments, has put Goa and Karnataka economy into shambles, leaving 100,000 jobless’. Thousands of people are employed in mining operations which include regular and contract employees. All are sitting idle. It is not just a loss to the miner even thousands of ancillary industries associated with iron ore mining are on verge of closure.

Goa is still understood as the case is set for judgment in February 2014, but in case of Karnataka the Hon’ble Supreme Court in April 2013 partially lifted the ban, but still in spite of all permissions, local authorities are yet to allow the resumption of iron ore mining operations in Karnataka.

In Goa, it a matter of survival of over 1/3rd population. The mining ban has paralyzed almost 20,000 trucks. But the biggest loss is to the economy which is now touching over Rs. 25,000 crore. The Goa Chief Minister said, ‘The economy of the country is in doldrums because import-export balance of the country is disturbed. Restriction on iron ore mining can be attributed as major reason for decline of the economy.’

Not just the economy, the loss of over USD 6 billion on account of ban on iron ore export from Goa alone has been one of the major factor responsible for compounding the current rupee crisis.

Until mining bans came into force, India produced about 200 million tonnes of iron ore and about 50% was exported, making India the world’s 3rd largest exporter of iron ore. The ban has declined the export from 117 million tonnes in 2008-09 to 18 million tonnes in 2012-13.

“India enjoys the richness of iron ore like that of Australia and Brazil but the difference in production and outlook is un-measurable. Where Australia has doubled its production to 500 million tonnes and Brazil has too doubled its production to 400 million tonnes, India production has gone down to less than 50% to 100 million tonnes, and even struggling to sustain this level, though the country has the immense potential to produce much more”, said an industry source.

The investors’ confidence has shaken. The international company POSCO has already pulled out of its USD 5.3 billion steel plant in Karnataka.

‘Even if the ban is lifted today, the regular operations in mining will take another 6 months and delay of every day is leading to a situation of no return for many’, said an iron ore miner.