A mining ban in Goa is expected to be prolonged as a Supreme Court panel has recommended activity should remain on hold until an environmental impact assessment is carried out.
Mining companies now fear that Goa could suffer the same fate as the state of Karnataka, where a mining ban which came into effect last year has only recently started to ease.
The ministry of environment and forests has "granted the environmental clearances in respect of at least 19 mining leases located within the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary and other sanctuaries", the report by the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee stated.
The suspension of mining in Goa this year followed an inquiry, which stated that operators going beyond their boundaries and "unregulated" and "unrestricted" illegal mining had resulted in 350 billion rupees (Dh23.61bn) of losses to the state, as well as environmental destruction. Goa is India's second-biggest producer and the country's largest exporter of iron ore, with demand largely coming from China.
"If it goes through the Karnataka model then it could be two to three years," said Haresh Melwani, the chief executive of HL Nathurmal, a mining company in Goa. "It will have its repercussions on the truck fleet in Goa and the barge fleet, and as a consequence I feel this industry could totally die out. "