Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, June 2:
The Odisha government has allowed operation of eight iron ore mines out of the 26 mines which were closed down following a Supreme Court order last month.
The move would help reduce the losses in revenue from mineral royalty.
Odisha, the top iron ore producing state in India, expects the ore output in 2014-15 to be around last year’s level. The state received nearly Rs 4500 crore as mining royalty in 2013-14, collected from extraction of iron ore, bauxite and coal.
The government’s decision to allow operation in 8 mines will benefit four iron ore mines of Tata Steel- Joda East, Joda West, Katamati, Bamebari, two mines of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL)- Bolani and Barsuan-Kalta and one iron ore mine of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) at Kurmitar.
These eight mines have an annual combined capacity of 20 million metric tons.
“The government has issued an order for the full-fledged operation of the mines. However, the lessees will have to submit necessary clearances before the department within three months for the renewal of leases,” said Mines director Deepak Mohanty.
The order will benefit SAIL and Tata Steel, who were faced with the threat of having to cut down heavily on production in their steel plants at Rourkela, Durgapur and Jamshedpur respectively.
However, the government said the temporary closure of the mines would not affect the revenue in the form of mining royalty.
“The brief halt in operations will not have much of an impact on the yearly output and we hope the revenue generation will be steady,” said Mohanty.
The Supreme Court on May 16 had asked the Odisha government to halt mining operations at 26 mines in the state, on the ground that automatic renewal of mines lease after 20 years of first renewal was illegal. It had also said the Odisha government must take steps to expedite the process of renewal of leases of the mines, especially the captive mines of SAIL and Tata Steel, within six months from the order.