Karnataka to re-open eight iron ore mines soon

July 5th, 2012 - 5:44 am ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, July 4 (IANS) The Karnataka government will permit re-opening of eight iron mines in Bellary and Chitradurga districts to augment the raw material supply for steel plants in the state, a top official said Wednesday.

“The A category lease holders of eight mines will be permitted to resume mining from August after they secure clearances from the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) to produce six million tonnes of iron ore per annum, as per the direction of the Supreme Court’s appointed central empowered committee (CEC),” state department of mines and geology director H.R. Srinivasa told reporters here.

Of the eight mines to be opened, five are in Bellary and three in Chitradurga district.

The forest bench of the apex court, which banned mining activity across the state in July-August 2011, following the multi-crore mining scam, partially lifted the ban April 20 in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur with stiff conditions.

“The lease holders will also have to secure the approval of the central ministry of environment and forestry to comply with 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.

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 re-opening of the mines will augment the supply of iron ore for e-auction. We will have to subsequently re-open more mines in B and 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 the state-run National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) permitted to produce 12 million tonnes per annum from its mines in the Bellary district, the government has filed an affidavit with the CEC to permit mining an additional 12 million tonnes per annum by mining leases under B and C categories.

The eight mines under A category with each holding 50-hectare of mining area, were cleared by the CEC as they were not found indulging in illegal mining activity nor were mentioned in the Karnataka Lokayukta reports, prepared by former ombudsman Justice (retd) N. Santosh Hegde in December 2008 and July 2011 after investigations by its anti-graft team.

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