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Goan economy in doldrums due to mining shutdown: Timblo

Panaji: Stating that Goa was a financially viable entity but due to the stoppage of mining the debt of Goa has gone up from a billion dollars to five billion dollars, chairman of Fomento Group Auduth Timblo Friday said that the state government is unable to service that debt.

Blaming the hue and cry over sustainable mining, the state, the judiciary, the unwilling legislature and the mining companies for the current situation in iron ore mining, Timblo said that closure of the industry has led to the state economy going downhill.

He said that human and corporate nature is such that it needs profit. “But if things were balanced, the state would have had financial sustainability and good life. Things go out of control and society suffered because society is not led properly by its leaders,” said the chairman of Goa’s second largest mining company.

Timblo was speaking at a panel discussion on sustainable mining at the Vibrant Goa summit on Friday. He did not comment on the future of the industry or when it would restart but said that sustainable mining comes from good legislation implemented with common sense. “Good laws and participation of the government and society around us is the crux of sustainable mining,” he said.

On the social cost of mining on the environment, the industry veteran said that any activity causes disruption and if the social cost of mining closure is assessed, it would show that the industry ought not to have been stopped. “It should have been encouraged like it was in the 50s after which the Goan economy boomed,” he said. 

The other panelists were Naseer Al Maqbali, Minerals Development, Oman and Dr Alok Drolia, CMD, Surajgarh Group. The discussion was moderated by Sundaresan Subi, president, Consult Subi, Chicago.

Commenting on the state’s closed industry, Drolia said that most of the problems in mining are caused by the fact that people have not understood it properly. He added that better utilisation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds would also go a long way in making mining activities sustainable for the future.

The argument on lack of awareness on the importance of mining mineral resources was also raised by Timblo, who said that everything around us is connected with metals and minerals. “Cement, steel, ceramic tiles, building material are all from mineral resources which means that mining and civilisation is a coexisting activity.

Maqbali pointed out that mining in Oman is around 5,000 years old and the country’s main resource is copper. “Oman has huge mining resources of which only three per cent is exploited. In future, we are interested in exploiting other minerals such as dolomite, silica, marble and limestone,” said Maqbali.

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