Explore Goa >> History of Mining in Goa

The first reference to the mineral content in Goa soil dates back to the 16th century. A Dutch traveller by name Mr John H. V. Linschoten had written that in Goa can be found stones containing iron. He has also stated that the scientists have opined that gold and copper would also be available from them. He further adds that, however, the government authorities do not permit the extraction and export of the same. Regarding the position of minerals as it existed then, Fonseca in his book, 'An historical and Archaeological Sketch of the City of Goa' (1878) has to say the following:
"laterite is the stone most abundant throughout the district. Iron is found at bage, Satari, Pernem and specially in the provinces of Zambaulim. Though no other mines or quarries are worked, the above by no means represent all the geological resources of the country, which are very imperfectly known, owing to the soil not having yet been scientifically explored".
The prospecting of iron ore and manganese ore started in Goa as early as 1905. Though the regular export of iron ore from Goa commenced in 1947, it gained momentum in 1949.
Prior to the liberation of the territory, only a few small industrial units existed in the territory. The major economic activity of the district was confined to the mining of iron and manganese ore. The district of Goa is richly endowed with industrial minerals like iron ore, manganese ore, bauxite, lime stone, dolomite etc. In addition to this, there are good deposits of refractory clays, laminite sands, steatile, silica sand, felspar, graphite, talc, quartz, soap stone, etc.
Iron, Manganese, bauxite, high magnesia, limestone and clay are the chief minerals of economic importance found in the district. The estimated indicated reserves of recoverable iron ore is about 58 per cent, iron content is to the order of 405 million tonnes. Similarly reserves of black iron ore and manganese ore (average mn content of 38 per cent) are about six lakh tons and 12 lakh tons respectively. The reserve estimate for washed clay is about 1 to 3 lakh tonnes. Certain clay is suitable for ceramic industry and the rest can be used as refractory material. Aerial surveys have led to the discovery of bauxite and luminous laterite in some northern parts of the district. Hugh reserves of bauxite have also been reported in the southern part of Goa.
In the year 1905, a few French and German companies had carried out prospecting of iron and manganese ore in Goa. The outbreak of the first world war brought the mining operations in the district virtually to a stop. However, they were resumed in 1947. It marked the beginning of the development and export of iron and manganese ore. For the purpose of blasting, the use of Ammonium Nitrate was first introduced in Goa in the year 1949, which was thus started much earlier than in the other parts of the country.
The state of Goa is well served by two navigable rivers namely the Mandovi and the Zuari which pass through the iron ore and manganese ore barring areas and join the sea near marmogoa harbour. This inland waterway system is considered a boon to the mining industry in Goa. It not only facilitates the speedy movement of mineral ore from the interior to the port but also helps in reducing the cost of transportation of the ore. These two rivers with the Cumbarjua canal provide facilities for cheap transport by barge of mineral ore from respective mines to the harbour where the ore is loaded on ships for export. The bigger mines are operated partly mechanically and partly manually. Out of the 654 mines in operations, about 300 were working as on January 1974.
It may be pointed mining in Goa has developed under the control and guidance of the mining department. Even though prospecting of iron and manganese started in Goa as early as 1905, it was only in year 1941 that a sample consignment of 1000 tons of iron ore was made to Belgium. Regular export of iron ore in Goa was started only in 1947 and most of it was exported to Japan. The speedy development of mining activity in Goa has to be attributed to very liberal policy in respect of granting of concession and also due to low taxation of minerals and nominal import duty on mining machinery.
Under the mines and mineral (regulation and development) Act 1957, 260 certificates of approval, 20 prospecting licences and 36 mining leases were granted by the end of May 1970.
Transport of ore from mines to jetties is done by road in rear dumpers from the distances ranging from 5 kms to 50 kms. in one case a rope way of 3.8 kms in length is used. It transports about 1 million tons of iron ore per year. All the iron and ferro manganese ore produced in Goa is exported to Japan and some European countries. Foreign exchange earnings by way of this export are in the order of Rs 30 crores. Manganese ore of high grade is either utilized locally or dispatched to the neighbouring states.
Bauxite is partly exported and partly despatched to other states for local usage. That has been a good foreign demand for the goan bauxite above the grade of 54 per cent A 120. Bauxite was first exported in the year in 1969. The total export being to the tune of 33, 600 tonnes.
The export trade is channelled through private exporters as well as the minerals and metals trading corporation of India limited, a government if India undertaking.
Exports to the East European countries is handled by MMTC. All the private exporters owned captive mines, the production from which accounts for 30 per cent to 90 per cent of their commitments. They meet rest of their requirements from small mine owners. In the recent years the export of Iron ore fines is on the increase.
After the commencement of the mining industry in the district in 1905, need was felt to organize the respective services regarding mining. On April 18, 1906, the them Director of Land Survey was given an additional charge as the Mining Engineer. The Portuguese Colonial Mining Laws came to be enforced by the Decree dated September 20, 1906. The administrative service in connection with the mining activity was centralised by the General Administration Department and a separate mining Section was established on December 17, 1907 to look after this work. Subsequently, the mining Mining Section was separated from the General Administration Department and was attached to the Land Survey Department. The Director of Public Works Department was appointed as the head of the mining section. Later on, on November 2, 1935, the Minister Section came to be attached to the Public Works Department and it continue to be so till the creation of the Directorate of Economic Services in July 1957 of which the Land Survey Department and the Department of Mines became the wings. However, the Land Survey Department, the Mines Department and the Industries Department functioned under the Public Works Department upto the end of the year 1958.
The Department of Mines was created to took after the sub-soil and its resources in mineral ore of any type, the quarrying of mineral ore and the execution of the Mining Legislation.
Under Notification dated September 17, 1962, the Director of Economic Services was inter alia delegated with the following powers:
(1) Collecting mining taxes under Portuguese Colonial Mining Laws (2) Granting licenses for quarrying, construction, rubber and stones subject to the approval of the Port Officer in case the quarrying was done within any Port area. (3) Ordering refund of deposits from mining concessions and land grants. (4) Issuing certificates of inspection of mines. (5) Signing visit books of mines. (6) Approving the selection of the members of the Committee entrusted with the survey of the mining area demarcated for exploration of a mine. Under gazette notifications, dated September 30, 1963, the provision of the Mines Act, 1952, the Mines and Minerals (Regulations and Development) Act, 1957, the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, and the Mines Rules, 1955, as modified by the Goa Daman and Diu (Laws) Regulation, 1962, came into force in Goa with effect from October 1, 1969. However under the same notification it was declared that Section 16 of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act 1957 was not at that time applicable to Goa. This Section 16 was later on extended to Goa with effect from January 13, 1966.
The provisions of the Mines Act 1952 are enforced by the Directorate General of Mines Safety, Government of India. The Mines Act 1952 provides to amend and consolidate the law relating to the regulations of labour and safety in mines. So, after October 1, 1963, the Mines Department which was hitherto also concerned with the enforcement of the provisions for safety and health of workmen employed in Mines, was left with the following functions:
(1) grant of concessions under Mineral Concession Rules, 1960; (2) collection of mining taxes including royalty in mineral ore; (3) issue of essential certificate for the import of mining machinery; (4) authorization for sale/transport/ export of mineral ore; (5) issues of licenses for storage of explosives; (6) enforcement of those provisions of the Portuguese Colonial Mining Laws, which were not covered by the Mines Act, 1952 and the Mines and Minerals (Regulations and Development) Act 1957; (7) grant of licenses for quarrying stones in Government land; (8) collection of statistics on production of mineral ore in different mines in Goa. (9) To provide necessary information to the government on the matters connected with mines and minerals in Goa. (10) To attend to public inquiries relating to mines and minerals.
Work done by the Department
It may be pointed out that the mining industry in the district has developed under the control and guidance of the Mines Department. Even though prospecting of iron ore and manganese was started in Goa as early as in 1905, it was only in 1941 that a sample consignment of 1,000 tons of iron was made to Belgium. Regular export of iron ore was started only in the year 1947 and most of the iron ore was exported to Japan. The speedy development if mining industry in the district was also due to the grant of concessions and due to low taxation on minerals and also nominal import duty on mining machinery. Fixed tax has also been levied on the mineral concessions governed under the Portuguese mining laws. This tax has been to the tune of Rs 4,00,000.00 every year up to 1966. The controller of mining leases has modified some of these concession w.e.f January 1, 1966. After notification of a mining concession, the first tax will not be levied and the leases are liable to pay dead rent from January 1, 1966.

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