The Odisha directorate of mines has sent a recommendation to the state steel and mines department to allow transportation of iron ore from 18 of the 26 mines for which mining was suspended on May 16 this year, following a Supreme Court order in this regard.
The state government had allowed mining operation to continue at eight other mines.
“We have already sent our recommendation to the government. The government has to take a decision on whether to allow this or not,” said an official at the directorate of mines.
Sources said the steel and mines department was considering the legal implications of the recommendations and would take a decision on the matter only after consulting the law department. “I do not think a decision on allowing the transportation will come this month. Things will be clear only in July,” said an official of a large mining firm.
According to estimates, at least five million tonnes of iron ore are stacked at various mining sites of Aryan Mining & Trading Corp and KJS Ahluwalia Group, because of the suspension of mining activity.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had said automatic renewal of mining leases after 20 years of the first renewal was illegal, adding all mines under this category should halt mining till the renewal of leases. Following the order, the Odisha government had asked 26 mines to stop operations at their respective sites; it had also imposed restrictions on the transportation of minerals excavated and stocked earlier.
However, on May 29, the state government allowed operation at seven captive mines of Tata Steel and Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), as well as an Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) mine, and said the firms must take steps to secure clearances to renew their mining leases within three months. Since then, the 18 other miners have been demanding permission to restart operations and despatch minerals.
“If OMC is allowed to raise and sell mineral, there is no reason why the government should bar other miners from doing so. It must expedite the process as soon as possible; otherwise, the rates will continue to stay at higher levels because of artificial supply problems,” said an advisor to a mining firm.
It is learnt the government might allow resumption of operations at the 18 other mines in August, after a central empowered committee completes its probe on the status of mines in Odisha, as ordered by the Supreme Court on April 21.