KIOCL Limited, a Union government undertaking, which had been forced to stop magnetite iron ore concentrate mining at its captive mines in Kudremukh hill range on the Western Ghats in January 2006 following a Supreme Court order, got the go-ahead for its mining project in Ballari district of Karnataka.
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change gave final forest clearance for KIOCL’s iron and manganese ore mining project in Devadari hill range in Ballari district.
Of 470.40 hectares of notified area in the Swamimalai block forest in Sandur taluk of Ballari district, the ministry has given permission (stage 2 final forest clearance) for 388 hectares of forest land for mining iron ore and manganese ore. In addition, forest clearance has been given to divert another 13.5761 hectares for constructing utility facilities, such as conveyor corridor and approach roads, and laying power transmission and water lines.
Permission for diverting the total 401.5761 hectares for the proposed project was given on December 16, 2022 under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, according to T. Saminathan, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of KIOCL Limited.
Addressing mediapersons in Mangaluru on February 3, the CMD said, “The company executed mining lease deed of Devadari Iron Ore Mine with the Director, Department of Mines and Geology, Karnataka on January 2, 2023 for 388 hectares for a period of 50 years.”
The company registered the lease deed in the office of the sub-registrar, Sandur taluk on January 18, 2023, and paid ₹329.17 crore towards stamp duty and registration charges.
Mr. Saminathan said that there is potential to mine between 30 million tonnes and 33 million tonnes of ore in the allotted area during the lease period.
Lifeline for KIOCL Limited
“Devadari mine will be a lifeline for the KIOCL Ltd. The final approval from the Union government is a good sign for the company to begin with in 2023,” Mr. Saminathan said and added, “We will return to the past (prior to 2016) glory.”
There will not be any mining operation during 2023-24 as the company needs time to build utility facilities. Ore production is likely to touch three lakh tonnes in 2024-25, five lakh tonnes in 2025-26, 10 lakh (one million) tonnes in 2026-27 and 20 lakh (two million) tonnes by 2027-28. “The beneficiation plant near the mining area will be set up by 2027-28,” he said.
The magnetite iron ore concentrate mined and beneficiated at the captive mines of Kudremukh was used to make pellets for more than three decades till December 2005. After the apex court banned mining in the eco-sensitive region, the company stopped mining in Kudremukh from January 2006. Later, the mining area came under the Kudremukh National Park.
Relief in export duty helped KIOCL recovery
The Union government withdrawing 45% export duty on iron ore pellets with effect from November 19, 2022 significantly helped the growth and progress of KIOCL Limited, according to Mr. Saminathan.
Production activities had to be stopped following the imposition of 45% export duty with effect from May 22, 2022, as operations became financially unviable. The decision resulted in a loss of ₹146 crore in the first half of 2022-23 till September 30, 2022. Post-removal of export duty, the company is striving hard to recover lost ground.
The company established a mineral exploration laboratory in the blast furnace unit in Mangaluru. It is certified by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for testing iron ore, limestone, manganese, bauxite, dolomite and alumino silicate refractory material.
The company began offering mineral exploration services to private mining companies. In addition, it is making efforts to secure additional mineral exploration projects in base metal and bulk mineral sector in Karnataka from the National Mineral Exploration Trust, Central Public Sector Undertakings and private enterprises.