Supreme Court appointed panel rejects Karnataka steel manufacturers plea for 7 million tonnes of iron ore

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The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has not allowed the apex Court to accept Karnataka Iron and Steel Manufacturers Association (KISMA’s) appeal urging the Court  to direct NMDC and Mysore Minerals Ltd (MML) to meet a shortfall of 7 million metric tonne (MMT) of iron ore ore. KISMA claimed the shortfall arose due to the suspension of mining operations by NMDC.

CEC said that the maximum permissible annual production (MPAP) of existing mines, upcoming mining assets and four applications that are under its consideration will be able to meet the shortfall.

KISMA had stated in a petition that the shortfall of seven million tonnes resulting from the suspension of mining operations by NMDC at Donimalai may be met jointly by the company’s Kumaraswamy mine to the extent of four million tonnes  and by Myore Minerals to the extent of three million tonnes a year.

The present status of maximum permissible annual production (MPAP) of iron ore from 16 category-A mines, 14 Category-B mines and seven auctioned category-C mines in Bellary, Chitradura and Tumkur stands at 37 million tonnes. The demand in Karnataka is estimated at 30 million tonnes a year.

In addition, one more Category ‘C’ mine auctioned by the Karnataka Government is ready for operation with an approved MPAP of 0.31 million tonnes. Further, the State has auctioned four out of the 11 expired mining leases. These four mining leases with a MPAP of 2.43 million tonnes are also ready to commence operation at the earliest.

Production of iron ore in Karnataka will be about 35.726 million tonnes during 2020-21. Further, four applications are under CEC’s consideration for enhancement of the MPAP, the panel said in a report submitted to the apex court. Keeping in view these facts the CEC has reiterated the recommendation made in its report in May 2019 and asked the Court to reject KISMA’s prayer. The apex court had introduced these curbs in 2011, citing war-like situation. Under the restrictions, Karnataka was not allowed to sell the iron ore it produced outside its borders.

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