Iron ore mining likely to restart in January in Goa

Mining in top iron ore-exporting state of Goa is likely to restart in January next year once all companies have obtained environment and forest clearances from the federal government, a state government source said on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court lifted a 19-month old ban on mining in Goa on Monday, although it capped annual output in the state at 20 million tonnes. More supply from Goa, which exports nearly all its output, is likely to add to an expected surplus in the world market and put downward pressure on prices

The ban was imposed in 2012 as part of a drive to curb illegal mining. It was lifted on the recommendation of a panel appointed by the Supreme Court to look into the mining industry.

"Mining won't start so soon... it should start somewhere in January 2015 because of processing and other formalities," the source, who handles mining in the state, told Reuters. "Mines will have to comply with forest and environmental clearances."

The restart of mining activity will also be delayed by the four-month Indian monsoon season that begins in June, he said.

A ban on production and exports in Goa, coupled with similar curbs enforced earlier in neighbouring Karnataka, have sliced India's iron ore exports by 85 percent, or 100 million tonnes, over the past two years. India was once the third-largest exporter of iron ore, but has now slipped to No. 10.

The resumption of supply from Goa will add to an expected glut of iron ore as big companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton boost production, while demand from top consumer China slows.

Sesa Sterlite Ltd, India's largest private iron ore miner which extracts all of its ore from the state, said no mining operations could be carried out until it obtained renewal of its mining lease permission from the Goa state government.

The company is working to secure permission to start operations at the earliest, Sesa, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, said in a statement.

Its shares ended nearly 4 percent lower on Tuesday in a flat Mumbai market, having risen as much as 7.4 percent on Monday after the Supreme Court verdict.

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