The much awaited Supreme Court’s decision on category ‘B’ mines in Karnataka has brought cheer for steel makers in the state. The verdict from the court states that all ‘B’ category mines can resume mining operations subject to fulfilling all Reclamation and Rehabilitation (R&R) obligations and paying fines.
WHAT WAS THE ISSUE?
The Supreme Court in 2011 had banned iron ore mining in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts of Karnataka citing environmental violations, and had asked Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to carry out an environmental impact assessment. The ban affected industry as:
- Iron ore production in Karnataka had dropped significantly after ban was imposed in July 2011
- Steel companies based in the state were struggling to source Iron ore
- Production had dropped drastically
- Steel companies like JSW had to buy iron ore from Odisha/Jharkhand at a higher price
WHAT IS THE VERDICT?
- Earlier in September 2012, the Supreme Court has allowed 18 mines in Karnataka to resume operations, while state-run miner NMDC has cleared to produce one million ton a month in August 2011
- Sets a cap of 30 MnT mining production in Karnataka (25 MnT in Bellary and 5 MnT in Chitradurga region)
- 12 MnT by NMDC, 7 MnT by ‘A’ grade and 8 MnT by ‘B’ grade mines
- On 18th April 2013, Supreme court has allowed 63 mines falling in category ‘B’ to resume operations after R&R plan
- Cancels all ‘C’ grade mines; will be auctioned among the end user