BHUBANESWAR: The State’s mining industry is eagerly waiting for the decision of inter-departmental committee on mines on lease extension of nine closed mines.
The Government panel headed by Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan reviewed the status of nine mines, mostly iron ore and manganese blocks, on December 15. These nine blocks are waiting for second and subsequent renewal.
Sources monitoring the development said the minutes of the meeting have not been prepared even after two weeks. However, another source said the panel may recommend two mines as the remaining six mines have problems relating to statutory clearances.
With the steel industries of the State facing acute shortage of raw materials, there are mounting pressure from industry organisations for reopening of the mines having necessary clearances.
Meanwhile, the State Government has already passed orders extending validity of 52 mines after the amendment of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) MMDR Act, 2015.
Of 52 mines, supplementary lease deeds have been executed for 29 leases including 26 held by private lessees, two of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and one of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL).
The mining association has been demanding reopening of 102 non-working mines that have been suspended for want of statutory clearances. The Supreme Court has directed that the 102 mines will remain suspended till they obtain requisite clearances like approvals under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, approved mining plan and consent to operate.
Sources in the mining sector claimed that several applications are pending for approval despite furnishing clearance certificates from authorities concerned.
Since the amended MMDR Act, 2015 has allowed extension of captive leases till 2030 and merchant mines till 2020, further delay will not serve any purpose. Particularly, the merchant mines will be be hit hard as reopening of mines will take time, the source added. The State has 187 iron ore and manganese mines of which 56 were functional before granting permission for operation of 52 mines.