Bangalore, July 4 (IANS) Iron ore mining will resume in two districts of Karnataka from August to augment the raw material supply to steel plants in the state, a top official said Wednesday.
“Eight A category lease holders will resume mining in Bellary and Chitradurga districts from August first week, after securing state approvals to produce six million tonnes of iron ore per annum in accordance with the direction of the Supreme Court’s appointed central empowered committee (CEC),” mines & geology director H.R. Srinivasa told reporters here.
The lease holders are B. Kumara Gowda, Minerals Enterprises Ltd, Mysore Minerals Ltd, Nadeem Minerals, RBSSN Mining Company, Sesa Goa, Vesco and Zeenath Transport.
Of them, Sesa Goa will contribute 2.5 million tonnes per annum and 3.5 million tonnes by other seven mining firms.
Five mines are located across Bellary district and three in Chitradurga district.
The forest bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, which banned mining activity across the state in July-August 2011, following the multi-crore mining scam, partially lifted the ban April 20 in three districts of Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur in the state with stiff conditions.
“The lease holders will have to secure approvals of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests to implement the reclamation and resettlement (RR) programme in the three districts as directed by the Supreme Court,” Srinivasa said on the margins of a day-long conference on ‘Rebuilding Karnataka’s iron ore mining & steel making capabilities’.
Of the 25 million tonnes of iron ore reserves, the apex court had permitted to be auctioned electronically (e-auction) for steel firms, 22 million tonnes have been auctioned so far, leaving three million tonnes for auctioning this month.
“The reopening of the mines will augment the supply of iron ore for e-auction. We will have to subsequently re-open more mines in B & C categories to increase the production to 18 million tonnes per annum,” Srinivasa said.
With the top court fixing a cap on production of iron ore in the state at 30 million tonnes per annum and permitting the state-run National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) to produce 12 million tonnes per annum from its mines in Bellary district, the state government has filed an affidavit with the CEC to permit mining an additional 12 million tonnes per annum by lease holders under B & C categories.
The eight firms under A category, with each holding 50 hectares of mining area, were cleared by the CEC in June, as they were not mentioned in the Karnataka Lokayukta reports prepared by former ombudsman Justice (retired) N. Santosh Hegde in December 2008 and July 2011 after investigations by its anti-graft team.
The Dehradun-based Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) prepared the R&R programme on the apex court directive for mining firms in category A & B in the state.
Mining ban in the mineral-rich Karnataka was imposed on a public interest litigation(PIL) filed by the Dharwad-based Samaj Parivartan Samudaya against rampant illegal mining in the state, which led to a huge loss of revenue to the state exchequer.
The forest bench also directed CEC to prepare a comprehensive report on the extent of illegality committed by various mining firms in the state as listed in detail in the ombudsman’s probe reports.