All decks have been cleared for fresh extraction of iron ore in the state which had stopped in March 2018. The Union Environment Ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) has recommended granting environmental clearance (EC) to Vedanta Ltd to extract 3 million tonnes per annum at the Bicholim block. The EC includes a crushing and screening plant with a capacity of 4.0 MTPA in the mine lease area of 478 ha, located at Bicholim, Bordem, Lamgao, Mulgao, Mayem and Sirigao in Bicholim taluka, the EAC said.
In October 2023, the Union environment ministry deferred the proposal to grant EC to Vedanta Ltd and the EAC had sought additional information from the company.
The state government has auctioned nine iron ore mineral blocks across the state, mostly in North Goa. Vedanta is the only company to have held a public hearing for the EC.
The EAC said that the Supreme Court has imposed a capping on the mining of iron ore to 20 MTPA for the entire state of Goa. Accordingly, any project proponent needs to first obtain the necessary permission from the competent authority about the amount of mineral they can mine every year, before commencing mining operations.
The EAC said that Vedanta Ltd needs to use modern equipment such as camera traps to ensure the presence and movement of wild animals in the vicinity of the mine lease area as well as in the study area in consultation with the wildlife wing of the forest department. Appropriate steps need to be taken to lessen stress conditions for wild animals while also avoiding man-animal conflict.
“The continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations (CA-AQMS) have to be installed and commissioned in consultation with the Central Pollution Control Board. The real-time data generated should be displayed digitally at entry and exit gates of the mine lease area,” the EAC said.
A project proponent has to monitor the air quality, noise level, water quality, water level, and ground vibration during drilling and blasting at the edge of the mine, near the village, crusher, and at other sensitive receptors, and such collected data has to be submitted quarterly to the ministry’s regional office.
The EAC said that the project proponent will develop a green belt in a 7.5 m wide safety zone all along the mine lease boundary as per the guidelines of the CPCB to arrest pollution emanating from mining operations within the lease.