Long before greening got fashionable and clean technologies the norm, Dempo was leaving no stone unturned to keep the fragile balance of organic life undisturbed in the environs of its facilities writes – M. R. Aravindan

The Dempo philosophy is profoundly influenced by an idea of Mother Earth, ‘Vasundhara’, sharing Her bounty with Her children. Reverence for Mother Nature is the cornerstone of the Dempo Environmental Policy.    

More than 200 hectares of degraded land have been afforested by the Group’s mining companies. Over 25 lakh saplings planted, and a lake sunk at Mulgao, catering to the drinking water needs of the communities around.

All of us are proud to be Dempoites; after all, the very name, when uttered in social circles, connotes a deep- seated commitment to moral and ethical values. But then, Dempo are not only known for business ethics but also for their commitment to sustainable development.

A business reputation as a good corporate citizen has to be protected, nay nurtured. It has to start with a firm commitment at top management levels. The commitment should spread to all levels in the organization by adequate procedures. Corporate social responsibility is not a matter just for the top management; it has to be the willingly accepted responsibility of every single employee. We, at Dempo, understand this well and have instituted systems to ensure that our hard -earned reputation stands the test of time.

In this piece, I would like to briefly talk about what we do to protect and preserve the environment in order to strike a sustainable balance between economic and social development and environment protection.

As you might doubtless be aware, Dempo Mining Corporation Pvt. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of V. S. dempo & Co Pvt. Ltd. Operates the largest iron ore mine in Goa at Bicholim, producing about two and a half million tones of processed iron ore anually. The operations are characterized by safe and environmentally responsible open cast operations.

In our Mines, we have introduced many novel and environmentally friendly practices such as:

  • Multi-pit mining system and rehabilitation planning, including backfilling and afforestation of mined — out pits.
  • Strategically placed sedimentation ponds and check dams to control soil erosion and reduce peak surface runoff
  • Infiltration and stability tests on different formations to arrest wash outs during heavy rains.
  • Pitching of dump slopes to control soil erosion and laterite walls to prevent silting
  • Introduction of high capacity ripper dozers, thereby completely avoiding drilling and blasting (We were among the first, if not the very first, to do so). The ripper dozers are the largest equipment in use any where in India.
  • Regular monitoring of water, air, flora and fauna resources.

Water Conservation

The processing plants are incorporated with water recycling systems including thickeners, and over eighty per cent of the total water fed to the plant is recycled. Water from the mine pits is used for water sprinkling. We have also dug out a lake in Mulgao (near Bicholim) to harvest rainwater. We supply water to the nearby villages from this lake.

When it comes to efforts in afforestation and land reclamation, we are next to none. A well-stocked nursery has been maintained for the last several years. Over two hundred hectares of land or about forty—two per cent of the total area has been reclaimed and afforested . Over two and a half million (twenty-five lakh)saplings have been planted over this area, with an encouraging eighty per cent survival rate.

The air pollution control measures that are taken at the Mines include

  • Water sprinkling
  • Covered ore-transfer points at plants
  • Masks for workers
  • Asphalted roads to reduce dust generation
  • Afforestation along haul roads
  • Tarpaulin-covered trucks

Some of the Special Projects in the field of Environment protection that we at Dempo have carried out successfully are:

  • Environment Capacity Building Demonstration Project of the World Bank — this was funded by the World Bank and ours was the only mine in the world chosen for this project — another first to our name!
  • Effective Micro-Organism Technology Project on dump sites to prevent soil erosion
  • Soil conservation and plantation on degraded land — a project carried out in collaboration with TERI, the Tata Energy Research Institute
  • Use of Geo-Textiles for dump stabilization.

As a founder member of the Mineral Foundation of Goa, we contribute a sum of Rupees Twenty —eight Lakhs towards socio-economic development. The Dempo Mining Group contributes Rupees Forty—four Lakhs annually to the Foundation.

In recognition of our efforts in Environmental Management, our processes have been certified as being in consonance with the international standard in this respect – the ISO 14001: 2004. This entails upon us the challenging responsibility to continually improve our environment management systems. This can be done only with the help and commitment from all of us. As part of the ISO system, we also design, plan and implement certain Environment Management Programmes (EMP’s), which are intended to solve key issues and help in continual improvement. I will consider this article to be a success if it inspires even a single person among its readers to identify any one existing environmental aspect needing attention and come up with probable solutions to mitigate it. I am sure that the Dempo Management will recognize such an effort as worthy of a suitable reward. After all, we know that the top management is really committed to sustainable development.

If one were to attempt to condense Dempo Mining Corporation Pvt. Ltd.’s approach  to the environment, it would be its emphasis to minimize, both in space as well as in time, any or all interventions and its/ their effect/ s on the environment by mining.

In the end, let me say with pride — we belong to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, one that has identified itself with nature from time immemorial  and evolved customs and rituals that help in preserving the environment. Let us uphold these lofty traditions on which the ideals of our company are based and keep the flag of Dempo flying high. We owe it to society and to posterity to preserve the environment and thus preserve the health of the only planet in the Universe to harbour life.