Ruling that ‘crusher dust’, a waste product of mining, is a mineral, the Madras High Court has said that one has to obtain necessary permission from the competent authorities for transporting it. Crusher dust is a waste product of the mining industry and used as an effective alternative for sand to fill in sites, as it is cheaper than sand. This order will have wider consequences on the construction industry across the State, where the crusher dust has great demand.

Dismissing the claim made by a dealer in construction material who argued that permission was not necessary for transporting crusher dust, Justice S. Manikumar said, “There is no ambiguity in understanding the intention of the legislature that stones reduced to different sizes, or crushed, would fall within the definition of mineral.

The petitioner’s contention that authorities had no power to restrict transportation of crusher dust under the statute and rules “is untenable”, observed Mr. Justice Manikumar, on the writ petition of Nankachi Enterprises, represented by S. Romeo.

The Judge also directed the Secretary, Department of Geology and Mining/Industries Department, to issue appropriate directions to all the district Collectors and the authorities under the laws relating to mines and minerals, and the police, for strict enforcement of the statutory provisions.

The petitioner submitted that he used to transport crusher dust through heavy vehicles. There is a demand for crusher dust in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.  He regularly bought crusher dust from authorised mining quarries and crushing units and transported it in the two States.

Recently, the vehicles engaged by him for transporting crusher dust from Coimbatore and Pollachi to Kerala were stopped by the police at the border check posts, who stated that there was an order from the district administration.

According to the petitioner, a person transporting crusher dust need not obtain any prior permission from any authority and there is no provision in the mining laws to that effect. His counsel argued that the crusher dust would not fall under the definition of ‘mineral’.

The petitioner was only a buyer and transporter of crusher dust, and mining laws were not applicable to him, and, at best, it could be applied only to those, who require permission for mining.

Defending the action of the authorities, Additional Government Pleader submitted that as per the rules of the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage of Minerals and Mineral Dealers Rules, 2011, the petitioner had to obtain necessary permission from the competent authorities for transporting crusher dust.

Going into decisions of various courts, Mr. Justice Manikumar said, “This Court is of the view that stone, crushed, or crusher dust, will fall within the definition of mineral. ”

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