Five months after the Supreme Court permitted recommencement of mining operations of Category A and B mines, the State government has initiated the process for granting approvals to the mining companies to help them begin operations.
The Supreme Court, in its April 18 order, allowed mining leases under Category A and B to commence operations. The SC appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in its final report submitted on February 3, 2012, had classified mining leases in to Category A, B, and C based on illegalities. There are 45 mining leases in Category A and 49 leases in Category B.
As part of its initiative to hasten the process of approvals to mining leases, the Department of Mining recently held individual meetings with all the mining companies under both categories.
Disclosing this to The Hindu, Tushar Girinath, Secretary, Department of Mines and Geology, said as many as 63 mining companies under the two categories, which have completed their Rehabilitation and Reclamation (R&R) Plans as prescribed by the CEC, have been invited for discussion. They have been asked to detail hurdles being faced by them in starting operations. “We have tried to address them as far as possible by arranging interaction with concerned departments,” he said.
The initiative is to help lessees in getting all needed clearances so that they can supply ore for domestic steel production. Every mine owner was facing one issue or the other, such as lease renewals, no objection certificates from the deputy commissioners in case of mines falling in revenue land, forest approvals, execution of leases, among others. Mr. Girinath has assured them of expediting the issues and paving the way for them to reopen their mines.
He said as many as 15 mines commenced their operation and mined 4 to 5 million tonnes of ore in the past four months, besides that of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC)’s production. “The government is anticipating production of around 9 million tonnes, including NMDC’s production, and is ascertaining how many mines can start operations by March to ease problems being faced by steel industries in the State,” he said. Mr. Girinath said he would be meeting another set of leaseholders, who are yet to get approvals for R&R plans shortly.
Mine owners are happy with the initiatives taken by the government and they described it as a “positive” step.. Sesa Goa and Minerals Enterprises Ltd. (MEL) are among 24 mines that are waiting for renewal of their leases. These two miners have a combined capacity of 3 million tonnes.
According to Basant Poddar, Managing Director MEL, at least seven mines would get approvals and commence their operation by December and the company hopes to produce 12 to 13 millions tonnes of ore by January. By February 2014, the availability of iron ore is likely to touch 20 to 22 million tonnes, including that of NMDC, he said.