Moreover, a final decision from the environment ministry in this regard is also expected by this month, official sources said.
“After discussion, the committee recommended the proposal with standard conditions and additional conditions of compliance to all conditions stipulated by the Supreme Court in writ petition (Civil) no 562/2009 and in other similar cases,” forest advisory committee (FAC) of the environment ministry said in its recommendation for grant of forest clearance to Sesa Goa.
The FAC is the top advisory body of the ministry for issues related to forests, including grant of forest clearances and diversion of forest land. It had considered Sesa Goa’s application in its meeting held on June 10 and 11. At present, Sesa Goa’s all mining operations in India are closed primarily due to Supreme Court-imposed mining bans in Goa and Karnataka.
In Goa, the ban is still continuing but in Karnataka, it was lifted by the apex court in April. Sesa Goa's mine in Chitradurga district was also among the beneficiaries of the lifting of ban in Karnataka but the Vedanta group firm could not reap the benefits as its mining lease had expired in October 2012 itself. With the expiry of mining lease, forest clearance granted to the company had also ended. The company, after grant of forest clearance, can resume mining operations in Karnataka on deemed basis till the lease is renewed. When asked, a Sesa Goa spokesperson said that the company is ready to resume mining as and when it gets the approvals. "All indications suggest that MoEF clearance for mining resumption is imminent. However, government procedures do take their own time. We are in a state of readiness and expect that we would be able to resume operations at our Chitradurga mine in Karnataka by the end of the month, depending upon the clearances," the spokesperson said.
Sesa Goa's Chitradurga mine was among the 166 mines in Karnataka that were banned by the apex court during July- August 2011 due to environmental degradation of the areas. Before the ban, it was largest ore producing mine in the state with a 6 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) capacity. However, capacity of the mine has now been curtailed to 2.29 MTPA as the Supreme Court, while lifting the ban, has put an upper cap of 30 MTPA for iron ore production in the state.
Cascading effects of closure of mining operations were very much evident on Sesa Goa as on its own, it reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 131.03 crore in the last fiscal. On the balance sheet, though, it showed a Rs 2,280 crore profit due to Rs 2,411 crore contribution made by associate firm Cairn India.