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A Draft of The Kerala Scientific Mining Policy 2014

A new Scientific Mining Policy for Kerala is drafted for discussion before final approval by the technical panel. The EFG based classification recommended in the UNFC-2009 is indirectly the cornerstone of the proposal. The EIA and SIA screening is a prerequisite. However the final version of the policy will come into force only after finalisation by the expert panel followed by the final approval by the GoK.
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  KERALA SCIENTIFIC MINING POLICY, 2014 (Vide:Order No 7037/KSPB/ 13/I&I/SPB Dtd. 26-2-2014) Introduction 1. As the state enjoys a typical tropical monsoon climate with alternating wet and dry spells, the actual quarrying/ mining (strip or surface) operations are feasible only during the rain free days of the calendar year. 2a. Kerala has a relatively larger population of 31.8 million (Census 2011). In the gross total area of 38863 km2, the livable and cultivable area is roughly 27,000 km2 and consequently leads to a higher population density. As a result, several parcels of land with potentially minable deposits are under never barren or fallow, but are set apart or already set aside for agricultural/commercial/residential land-uses; in other words, anything but mining related landuse.  This is despite the use of tax revenue in the geo-scientific work of identification, exploration,  valuation of mineral/s wealth and delineation ore/mineral bearing land. Sadly, it has been the practice or policy of the administration, to allocate ore/mineral bearing parcels of land to a variety of purposes other than mining and extraction of the valuable mineral wealth. Recommendation: Therefore, it is strongly recommended that for land parcels with  proven mineral wealth the first priority of use or allocation for use shall be for the mining/quarrying of the mineral wealth below the ground. Only after completion of the mining activity and reclamation and landscaping of the mine pit and restoring the surroundings, the land be allocated for other uses  . For example the strip mines of English-India Clays in Akkulam, Thiruvananthapuram are now the home of NCESS, NATPAC, Southern Air Command and so on. Backdrop of mining in Kerala Modern quarrying/mining in Kerala is focused on china clays, construction materials (  extracted from the shallow skin of the earth’s crust  ) and the cyclically renewed blacksand beach placer deposits (from the beaches of Kollam and southern part of Alappuzha dist.) on an yearly basis.  The minable deposits of China clay occurrences are localized in the southern districts of  Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam and the northern dist of Kannur. The clay mining in Kerala is undertaken by enterprises that are either wholly publicly owned or under private ownership.  Quarrying/mining operations for rock and byproducts is entirely vested with large and small private investors. In fact, in the immediate preceding decades, the demand for rock rubble and coarse and fine aggregates, showed an unprecedented upward spiral. Being rock rubble and its derivatives, these fetch only a very low unit value. Contrary to this, the unit value of black-sand placers (or derivatives and separates), accumulating in the modern beaches of Chavara-Kayamkulam-Ambalapuzha section, is huge. This accumulation is cyclical, in that it is systematically annually renewed as a part of the beach building by the long travelled swells associated with the SW monsoon. 2b. In respect of china clay, quarry products and placer minerals varying degrees of value additions of one kind or other are already in place. Observation: In the processing plants the ROM china clay goes through an elaborate process of clarification aimed at value addition. The beach placer sand on the other hand goes through a series of process by which the mineral species are separated. Only KMML, TTP Ltd and CMRL are involved in value addition. Observation:    The proposed Institute for Critical Materials, under the auspices of the KSCSTE and utilizing the monazite as the chief input, has a mission of research,  pilot plant operations, incubation and transfer of technology for the commercialization of products  . 2c. Without an efficient plan of transporting the finished product or material from the place of manufacture to the potential markets/s, already at hand, prior to the first day of activity, the profitability of the mining/quarrying enterprise could as well be uncertain.  The road infrastructure in Kerala continues to be insufficient or antique for modern multi-axle lorries or tractor-trailers. The poor upkeep of the single carriage east-west trending roadways that connect points in midland (and low highland?) where value added rock products are manufactured, is indeed a huge bottleneck in the supply chain. However, the rail transport network, with double-electric-traction lanes is nearly modern in Kerala. Recommendation: Therefore the Committee recommends adoption of measures for improving the road infrastructure for the safe passage of heavy duty trucks ferrying  products from quarries and mines.   2d. Recycling, brings into an average Keralite’s mind recycling of plastic, glass, paper and other metallic scraps. But recycling in the parlance of mining means entirely different input material.  Recommendation  : T  he scientific mining policy shall encourage, require or make mandatory, the recycling of building rubble from demolition of buildings of all sorts through a suitable manufacturing process, whereby coarse and fine aggregates are manufactured for reuse. 2e.Glass bottles of various descriptions are in plenty in our communities and consequently in our state. If this excellent feed stock is recycled into fine aggregate, to a large extent the scarcity of this commodity in the construction sector can be relived. We need to keep in mind that glass is infinitely recyclable. The committee proposes incentives and encouragements for enterprises and entrepreneurs in the glass to fine aggregate conversion. 2f. In general, there is no immediate buyer or user of the stockpile of stripped overburden in rock quarries/mines. This overburden is an excellent source material to recover coarse and fine aggregates. Currently such material remains condemned from any further downstream use. It is yet another example of making wealth from waste. 2g. Disposal of unusable stripped waste is not without options. Once the service life of the quarry/mine is reached, the quarried land is recovered by refilling the void with quarry/mine  waste and followed by landscaping. Recommendation: The recovery or reclamation of the quarried/mined land shall be made mandatory and be declared as the responsibility of the mining company. 3. Adopting more technology oriented scientific mining. In the pre-independence days, i.e., during the days of Raj/Maharaja, mining practice in  Travancore state was purely either strip mining or quarrying and minimally mechanized. In place of machines, several types of hand-tools and human labour were intensively used. In stockpiling of black sand of placers, gathering of in-stream sand (as fine aggregate), or collecting and washing of lime-shell for subsistence, human (both genders) labor was extensively used. Reasons for the low level of mechanization could have been the dull market demand and plentiful supply of workforce. . In the post 90’s, a good deal of mech anization has come into the strip mining sector, primarily to raise the output in order to meet the market demand. Machines such as Bulldozers, Powershovels, Jackhammers, dynamite, heavy duty tipper trucks and trained and skilled operators are a common scene in the quarries/mines. Also used extensively are  various sorts of mechanized pumps to dewater the operational area. Recommendation: The mining sector truly needs use of more machines for capacity expansion, to meet market demand. The mines and quarries currently are one-shift operations. The Government shall encourage adding more shifts in the operations to raise the production to meet the demand from the infrastructure sector of the state.  4. Adoption of most efficient competitive and environmentally responsible method of mining.  The founding of EPA in 1970 in the USA, had set a new road for many nations of the world making them to take a relook at the large and small activities and interventions in the ecosphere of the earth. In 1976, by adding article 48A to the Indian constitution, the wildlife and forests which remained in the state list were transferred to the concurrent list of the constitution. However, mining and quarrying for minor minerals remained with the state. Regulations and rules framed subsequently by the MoEF governed and ensured the environmental safe guards essential to opening up of a mine to extract major minerals and fuels.  Truly, Mining never was and has been an environment friendly activity in any part of the  world at any point of time in the past or in the present. However, new insights, knowledge, operational methods and modern technologies enabled modern mining to co-exist with a healthy environment and supportive and happy community or society. In Kerala, though text book examples of reclamation and reuse of quarry/mine pits exist, these are exceptions and not the rule. For example, the IRE at Kollam has built a township in the backshore, over a parcel of land reclaimed after dredging to recover the valuable black or heavy mineral sand in the backshore. Secondly at Thonnakkal, Thiruvananthapuram Dist., (on the eastside of NH47 and Asan Memorial), M/s English India Clays Ltd., reclaimed and landscaped their abandoned clay mine (roughly an area = ~15.0 ha) and sold the same to M/s Tata Consultancy Services. Outside of these examples, the reclamation of abandoned quarries and mines continues to be a far-cry. In spite of the roughly 8000 rock rubble quarries (of which roughly 3000 are abandoned) of  variable sizes and depth, recovery or reclamation of the land to the approximate srcinal lay has not happened. This abandon is detested by the society or community in and around the extraction sites and shall not happen anymore now and in the future.  While issuing permit or license for mining or quarrying, the authority shall mandate the operator to backfill, landscape and reclaim the holes created by the extraction. Certainly, this shift in policy and mandating to reclaim and restore the “holed” area back to the near srcinal lay might invite initially very strong objections from the industry. However, such objections will die off with time. Recommendation: All prospective quarrying/mining operations are subject to a satisfactory clearance based on EIA and SIA stipulations specifically drawn up by an expert agency or group or institution. The list of expert agencies with latest contact
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