Nearly two months after the Supreme Court partially lifted the ban on mining of iron ore, two mines in Category A have resumed operations.

This will help the iron-ore starved steel industry to some extent, according to sources in the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI). Two mining leaseholders R. Praveen Chandra in Chitradurga and B. Kumar Gowda in Bellary districts have commenced their mining operations after obtaining statutory approvals.

A senior official in FIMI told The Hindu that besides the two, Nadeem Minerals, which has its mine in Bellary, is likely to restart mining next week.

Similarly, VESCO is likely to secure approvals to commence mining shortly.

“These four mines together would bring about 1.5 million tonnes of iron ore to the auction platform,” he said. Following the recommendation of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) that unearthed rampant illegalities by several mining companies, the Supreme Court had ordered suspension of mining and subsequently the State government banned mining in July 2011.

However, the Supreme Court had allowed e-auction of about 25 million tonnes of iron ore from the stockpile to help the steel industry which faced a crisis due to the ban on mining.

Besides authorising Metal Scrap Trade Corporation (MSTC), a Public Sector Undertaking (under the Ministry of Steel and Mines) to conduct e-auction on September 1, the Supreme Court had allowed public sector mining giant National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) Limited, to carry out mining in Bellary and extract ore up to one million tonnes per month. The Supreme Court had permitted 18 A Category mines to restart mining in September 2012. The mining lease, in which there were negligible or no irregularities, was classified by the CEC under Category A and those with higher degree of irregularities classified under category B.

Mines with maximum illegalities were classified under Category C.

Of the 18 Category A mines, Bangalore-based Mineral Enterprises Limited (MEL), which is operating in 103.81 hectares in Bedarabommanahalli of Chitrudurga restarted mining operations on September 6.

However, it had to shut down its operations again as its mining lease expired on October 6.

Apart from R. Praveen Chandra, B. Kumara Gowda, Nadeem Minerals, MEL and VESCO leases, 13 mine lease-holders are awaiting approvals to commence operations.