The Goa government will auction "six to eight" iron ore mining blocks by December 15, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Wednesday.
The decision by the Chief Minister comes at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government in the state has been criticised for belated efforts to restart the mining industry ahead of the 2022 state Assembly polls.
Addressing reporters after a meeting of the state cabinet, Sawant said that the Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited had been appointed for exploration of the nearly 90 mining leases in Goa for mineral prospects.
"The cabinet has given approval to the MECL for assessment of mineral ore for phase one stage of the auction. We are auctioning around six to eight blocks.
"They are exploring to find out which blocks will be eventually selected. After that auctioning will be conducted by the State Bank of India," Sawant said, adding that the MEPL has already started exploration of mining leases to deduce the quantum of below-surface mineral deposits.
"Our auctioning procedure will be completed before December 15. Auction will be carried out through the corporation (Goa Mineral Development Corporation), but we will take SBI on board too," he said.
The auctioning move assumes significance ahead of the Assembly polls, on account of the fact that fresh mining excavation in the state has been shut down since 2018, when the Supreme Court scrapped the renewal of 88 mining leases citing irregularities.
The Corporation was formed by the Goa government earlier this year, with the Chief Minister as the ex-officio chairman and will have top officials including Secretaries in-charge of Finance, Mines and Environment as members.
The Corporation will also include a lawyer nominated by the state government, two experienced chartered accountants and a government nominated geologist.
The Corporation is empowered to obtain mining leases/grants, grant prospecting licenses, etc, under the Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Act, 1957 and carry out all mining operations, to carry out mining operations on behalf of the State under the same Act.
The Corporation would also conduct other mining allied businesses which includes treatment and harvesting of mining dumps, extraction, transportation, export of ore, apart from executing other related responsibilities.