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Ardent Steel to seek green nod for pellet plant

MoEF had asked the company to halt production at its 600,000 tonne per annum iron ore pelletisation plant in last year, citing that the plant was running without the clearance

Sadananda Mohapatra  |  Bhubaneswar 

Iron ore pellet maker Ardent Steel will apply for fresh environment clearance (EC) for its Keonjhar plant, which was shut down by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in December 2013, company officials said.

“We are in the process of sending application to MoEF for environment clearance as per the court order,” said an official of the company.

The MoEF had asked the company to halt production at its 600,000 tonne per annum iron ore pelletisation plant last year, citing that the plant was running without EC. Though the company complied with the order, it had taken the matter to National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The company held that since pellet making does not come under metallurgical process, there is no need to obtain EC. The NGT however, dismissed the plea of Ardent Steel in its order passed last month.

“We cannot set aside or quash the order dated December 12, 2013. However, we would direct and grant liberty to the appellant (Ardent Steel) to seek environmental clearance even for the ‘stand alone’ pelletisation plant,” said the NGT order.

“The application for EC should be filed within one month and shall be disposed of by the MoEF within three months thereafter. Upon grant of such clearance, the unit would operate in accordance with law,” the order added.

In February this year, the MoEF had ordered to initiate legal action against Ardent Steel Limited (ASL). Accordingly, the forest and environment department of the Odisha government commenced procedures to file a case against the company.

The MoEF gave its recommendations while reviewing the application of the steel firm to expand its present capacity and add extra facilities to set up an integrated steel complex.

The ASL has proposed to expand the pellet plant capacity to 2.1 million tonne per annum (mtpa) from 600,000 tonne a year. Besides, it has plans to set up an iron ore washery (3 mtpa) , a sponge iron plant (1.2 mtpa) , a steel melting shop (1.2 mtpa), a rolling mill (1.2 mtpa) along with 100 Mw captive power plant at Phuljhar village in Banspal block of Keonjhar.

During processing of its application for expansion, the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of MoEF found that it was running the 600,000 tonne pellet plant without obtaining environmental clearance, and hence suggested legal action against the company after ordering for shutdown.

Before its closure, the plant exported iron ore pellets via Paradip and other ports. It has no captive mines and used to produce the steel raw material by sourcing iron ore from local miners. On its website, the company claims the pellet plant is meant only for sale in domestic and abroad markets.

Pellets are produced from dusty iron ore fines and are used as raw material for steel production. They can be used in place of sized iron ore in blast furnaces.

The ASL is a subsidiary company of Godawari Power & Ispat Ltd (GPIL),Raipur. GPIL has 75 per cent shareholding in the steel plant. GPIL is a HIRA Group company.

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First Published: Wed, June 11 2014. 20:19 IST