Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday informed the State Legislative Assembly that the first round of auction for iron ore mining leases is proposed to be completed in the next three to four months.
Mr. Sawant was cornered by opposition benches including Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo, Goa Forward party MLA Vijai Sardesai, and Independent MLA Chandrakant Shetye on the issue of retrenchment of staff by the mining companies.
The mining industry in the State came to a standstill in 2018 after the Supreme Court quashed the mining leases.
Mr. Sardesai sought assurance from the State government that it will make it mandatory for the companies, winning the auction, to retain the workforce currently employed on these mining leases.
The chief minister told the House that the first round of auction is proposed to be completed in the next the three to four months, and the experienced workforce available in Goa is expected to get employment opportunities once the mining activity resumes in the state.
“The State will explore the possibility of giving preference in employment to the existing workforce through successful bidders after auction process is completed and mining activity is resumed,” Mr. Sawant said.
He further said that in order to restart mining activity in the state, the government is gearing up to auction mining blocks on priority.
“In order to auction the mining blocks expeditiously, the State has entered into an MoU with the Mineral Exploration Consultancy Limited (MECL), a Government of India enterprise, for providing geological reports,” he said.
Mr. Sawant told the House that the State has decided to engage the services of SBICAP Securities Limited for transaction advisory services to prepare bid documents and conduct the bidding process.
“The Directorate of Mines and Geology is expected to sign the agreement with SBICAP in a couple of days,” he said.
The State has proposed to engage Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited (MSTC) auction platform to conduct the auctioning, Mr. Sawant said, adding that a high-power committee is being set up to monitor the auction process in a time-bound manner.
The chief minister said that the Directorate of Mines & Geology has set up a special auction cell to expedite the auction process.
“The government has to comply with the statutory requirements and court orders to restart the mining activity in the State. In this direction, as stated, the government has already taken concrete steps for resumption of mining activity through auction,” he said.
The move will provide employment opportunities to the existing experienced workforce, Mr. Sawant said, adding that there should not be any fear or anxiety in this regard and the government is committed to its efforts.