In a major relief to steel and mining industry, the Supreme Court (SC), on December 14, increased the cap on the production of iron ore from 30 million tonnes per annum to 35 million tonnes per annum.The SC stated in its verdict that the ground situation, including significant improvements in the infrastructure, had changed and even the “assessment of reserves has changed over the years and today the iron-ore reserves across Karnataka, comprising haematite and magnetite reserves, is to the tune of 10.071 BMT (billion metric tonnes) and so the solution had to be realistic.” The verdict also shows that the SC had duly taken into consideration scientific and technical parameters, mining reserves, dumping areas, evacuation infrastructure, etc, besides industry and economic development impact.
However, industry representatives have said that the cap not increased, which resulted in loss of around Rs 6.5 billion to the Karnataka Government and for the industry.The apex court has lifted the five-year-old ceiling from 30 million tonnes to 35 million tonnes for the A and B category mines. In a letter to the Chairman of Central Empowered Committee, H M Khyum Ali, Director, Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI), South, on Wednesday has requested the latter to decide on the pending enhancement proposals.Meanwhile, representatives from the industry have said that the monitoring committee has called for few meetings and asked for some information, which was submitted but nothing has moved now.They alleged that due to delay in implementing the apex court’s direction, the state has lost around Rs 1.2 billion revenue and the industry lost around Rs 5 billion of revenue.
A senior official from the monitoring committee refuted the allegations as baseless and said that the Committee examines things based on merits.”The committee is mandated to examine all the proposals and it will submit a report to the Central Empowered Committee. It will come out with its decision at the appropriate time. The monitoring committee has already sold 150 million tonnes of material from all these mines,” said the official.
The mining industry remains focused on tackling the challenges that manifest the business in all forms, such as e-auction, export ban, forest clearance permits and other regulatory hurdles. It still has to straddle a large gap between gearing up for the optimism and promise that the verdict holds to meandering its way out with umpteen regulatory clearances as part of routine business. The industry looks forward to enhanced transparency through digitisation and technology to end impractical methods.