The Supreme Court order to suspend iron ore mining with immediate effect in north Karnataka’s Bellary district has come as a rude shock to the mining and steel industries.
Iron and steel manufacturers in South India, who are facing severe shortage of raw materials, will be ‘totally devastated’ with a complete halt on mining, said industry sources.
“The blanket ban on mining ordered by the Court is an extreme step. It is very unfortunate for miners who will have to sustain ‘unimaginable and insurmountable’ losses. This will lead to large-scale unemployment and social unrest in Karnataka’s mining belt,” said Basant Poddar, managing director, Mineral Enterprises Limited.
The apex court today suspended mining of iron ore in 10,868 hectares in Bellary district with immediate effect until further orders. A forest bench of the court headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia also directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to come out with an interim report on the requirement of iron ore for India’s steel industry in consultation with the Ministry of Steel and Mines.
D V Pichamuthu, director of Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) said: “There is no scope for the mining industry to go for a higher appeal in this case. We have to wait for the apex court to issue further orders. However, the present order will have a very bad impact on the mining industry. The complete suspension of iron ore mines will affect steel production in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.”
He said pig iron; pellet and steel plants in these states are dependent on the Bellary, Hospet and Sandur (BHS) mines. About 12 million tonnes of steel, nine million tonnes of pellet and two million tonnes of pig iron production will be directly affected in the states. Bellary supplies around 110,000 metric tonnes of iron ore to the user industries every day.