Friday, December 05, 2008

Karnataka unveils new mining policy

By Team Mangalorean Bangalore

BANGALORE December 4, 2008: The Karnataka government today unveiled its new mining policy aimed at banning export of iron ore and encourage value addition of the product, keeping in view the domestic market, under which it will demarcate mining zones and grant concession.

Transparency will be followed while allotting mining rights and priority accorded to those establishing the industry in the vicinity of mining pits, State Panchayat Raj Minister Shobha Karandjale told reporters after a cabinet meeting here.

Issuance of any new licenses will be “pre-conditioned to value addition in the state without destabilising the state's forest wealth and bio-diversity,'' she said.
Existing licence holders would be permitted to continue to sell and export. However, during time of renewal the licence would be reviewed, she said. Modern technology would have to be utilised by those engaging in mining activities. No mining concessions would be permitted in environmentally sensitive zones, she added.

The new policy has 13 objectives including progressive features such as adoption of modern techniques in mining, transparency in granting mineral licenses and emphasis on value addition. No new licenses would be granted to export mineral without value addition. Ruling out renewal of existing licenses for exports, Shobha Karandlaje said.

Karnataka has the distinction of being one among very few states in the country to formulate mineral policy in 2000. Recently, the Karnataka High Court suggested nationalisation of iron ore mining, besides banning mining in forestland.
The State has exported 47 million tonnes of iron from Bellary, Bagalkot and Gulbarga districts, she said.

The policy aimed to protect the flora, fauna and bio-diversity and ensure that the invaluable forest wealth was safeguarded while granting mineral concessions. "Mining as a stand-alone industry needs to be encouraged as it provides large scale employment. It creates value by converting resources into a product."

The policy allowed setting up of new mineral based industries to match the available raw materials, it said the industries would generate more employment and spawn auxiliary industries. Compliance of environment laws by miners would be enforced through the Department of Forests, Ecology and Environment, the policy said.

The priority would be given to the applicants who propose establishment of industries for value addition within the vicinity of the mineral bearing areas. To ensure better quality of life for mine workers and their families, adherence to minimum wages and other statutory requirements as per the law will be enforced. Townships nearer to the workplace would be developed with health, educational, recreational and other facilities. A portion of revenue generated from mining would be used for development of mining areas and districts, the policy said.

The Minister said the government would explore the possibility of notifying mineral bearing areas to avoid clash of interest between mineral exploitation and other development activities. It would promote indigeneous utilisation of iron ore fines and beneficiation of low grade ores.

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