The Central Empowered Committee (CEC), appointed by the Supreme Court to conduct the survey of iron ore mines and demarcate the boundaries in three districts of Karnataka, has cleared the names of 24 mining companies for restarting operations.
In its three separate reports submitted to the apex court, it has said these companies may be allowed to resume mining, but subject to a macro environment impact assessment (EIA) plan and reclamation and rehabilitation plan. These are to be prepared by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) and the state of Karnataka, respectively, and are approved by the court.
The mining operations in leases found involved in illegal mining may be allowed to resume only after the damaged area is physically reclaimed and rehabilitated, CEC said.
The ICFRE is said to have completed the EIA study for Bellary district and is likely to give the report to the apex court this week. The Supreme Court had directed suspension of mining activities in the state in its July 29 order.
The companies already cleared by CEC include NMDC, Mysore Minerals Ltd, Ramgadh Mining and Minerals Ltd Shantipriya, Allum Prashant, H N Premkumar, PBS, Gavisiddeshwara, ZTC, Varalakshmi Mining, Nadeem minerals, Tiffen Barytes, VNK Menon, VESCO , B Kumargoud, Allum Basavaraj and AM Minerals.
The industry is hopeful of resuming mining operations sometime this month once the Supreme Court gives a green signal. “It all depends on acceptance of the EIA report by the court. We are hoping that things will change very soon and the industry will get permission to restart by the end of November,” sources said.
The Bellary-Hospet region contributes 80 per cent of the 45-50 million tonnes iron ore output from the state annually. If the above 24 companies are allowed nod to restart mining, the steel industry can hope for about 10-15 million tonnes of ore in addition to what they are already securing through e-auctions.
So far, four rounds of auctions have been held and close to four million tonnes of iron ore has been released to domestic steel mills.
The joint team constituted by the court to demarcate 101 mining leases in the district of Bellary has completed its survey and given the report. In three reports, the team has concluded that operations of these mines need not be closed.
Following the Supreme Court order dated May 6, a joint team comprising senior representatives of the forest department and that of mines and geology, representatives of the Lokayukta and members of the CEC have completed the survey and demarcation of 101 mining leases in the state.