‘Auction C category mines to improve ore production’

The State’s steel manufacturers and their dependent mini blast furnace units have urged the government to quickly open the 50 mines under A and B category and auction C class mines to improve ore production and save these industries.

The situation in the industry is alarming, Vinod Nowal, president of the Karnataka Steel Manufacturers’ Association, told a news conference here on Wednesday.

Members of the Association of Indian Mini Blast Furnaces were present.

Against a requirement of 40 million tonnes a year, steel mills in the State faced more than 50 per cent shortage in iron ore output at 18 million tonnes.

Cartelisation among miners had doubled the prices compared to Odisha or Jharkhand.

The Supreme Court recently limited the production to 30 million tonnes.

The State, by activating the two mine categories, can help raise the production level to 26 million tonnes, the members of the two associations said. Industry representatives met the Chief Secretary on Wednesday.

They demanded that a retired Supreme Court or a High Court judge monitor the base price fixation until the short supply situation ends.

“Blast furnaces, pig iron and sponge iron plants and integrated steel plants have been operating at low capacity, in economically unviable conditions, and are on their death bed,” according to Dr. Nowal.

Many sponge iron units have closed down due to high prices fixed by lessees and sold their units at distress prices.

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