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India and Australia strengthen environmental protection

August 31, 2011

India Court Extends Karnataka Iron-Ore Mining Ban

“India’s Supreme Court has extended a ban on iron ore mining in two new districts in the southern state of Karnataka, a lawyer involved in the matter said Friday.

Panindra Rao, a lawyer representing the mining industry, told Dow Jones Newswires that a court-appointed body found prima facie evidence of environmental degradation in the districts of Tumkur and Chitradurg. ‘[The court] has stopped mining and transportation operations in Chitradurg and Tumkur districts,’ he said, adding that a panel has been asked to make a detailed environment impact study of these two districts.

The extension of the mining ban to two more Karnataka districts on lines of another imposed on July 29 in the key iron ore hub of Bellary is expected to hurt not only supplies to domestic mills, but also exports by the world’s third-largest iron ore supplier.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, August 31 2011

Australia’s West Kimberley Becomes Heritage Site

“Australia plans to protect its spectacular West Kimberley region from environmental degradation caused by mining and development. An area of wilderness bigger than England will be classified as a National Heritage site to help guard its rare attractions including 130 million-year-old dinosaur footprints.

Nicole Roocke, director of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia, said the ‘broad-brush approach’ would mean an additional bureaucratic burden for potential mining projects in the area. ‘It will impact negatively on all economic development in the Kimberley. It will compromise economic growth in communities in the Kimberley,’ Ms. Roocke said.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, August 26 2011


  • The Indian district of Karnataka is responsible for approximately a quarter of India’s iron ore exports and a fulfills a significant part of domestic demand. Environmental degradation in the area is mainly caused by illegal and/or poorly controlled mining.
  • The key fight between industry groups and environmental lobbyists in Australia is about the development of a gas terminal for Woodside in the West Kimberley region. Industry groups are not happy because they will have to introduce tighter controls (although the developing partners do not see the introduction of the site as a stumbling block), while environmentalists see the introduction of a heritage site as useless if the development of the complex goes on.


  • The current boom of the mining industry has encouraged governments around the world to put stricter environmental regulations in place, knowing that companies are willing to go a long way to be able to continue with their projects. While the main government interventions in India are around increase of government control and institutionalization of the industry, interventions in Australia, the US, and other OECD countries mainly focus on preserving specific areas or species.
  • The actions of the Australian government should partly be seen as a political move, countering the critics that the government has been too mining-friendly by watering down the super profits tax.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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