Mining in Goa started during the Portuguese period. However, the process underwent modernization only after independence. Most of the mines are in private hands. They were leased out by the Portuguese authority in pre-liberation days, and inherited by the present owners.
Iron ore, manganese, bauxite, high magnesia, limestone and clay are the chief minerals of economic importance found in Goa. The mining industry in Goa provides employment to about 11,000 persons directly and about 10,000 persons indirectly.
The land away from the coast is rich in minerals and ores and mining in Goa forms the second largest industry. Mining in Goa focuses on ores of iron, bauxite, manganese, clays, limestone and silica.
The iron ore industry is the main industry of mining in Goa. It also forms the backbone of Goan economy. In 1996-97 the total mineral ore produced in Goa was 137.37 lakh tonnes, of which iron ore consists 136.43 lakh tonnes.
The iron ore deposits of Goa are essentially of hematite and are associated with the ferrogenous quartzite and phylites.
The deposits containing an average Fe content of 63% by and large are concentrated in North-North West, South-South East directions from North to the South – occupying nearly 1/5th area of the total territory.
Mining is both manual and mechanical employing open-cast method. The annual production of iron ore is around 15 million tonnes. The ore is mainly exported to Japan, European countries, China and South Korea through the Mormugao Harbour.
The main rivers Mandovi and Zuari both flowing into the Arabian Sea are navigable by barges used for transporting the ore. The export of iron ore during 97-98 was to the tune of 18.44 million tonnes and foreign exchange earning was Rs.906.09 crores.
The main iron ore bearing zone is divided into four separate areas by major faults.
These areas are:
- Bicholim – Pale area
- Sancordem area
- Shigao – Kalay area
- Sanguem – Quepem area.