BHUBANESWAR: Even as Odisha tops the auction chart by successfully putting up 48 mineral blocks under the hammer after the amendment of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act in 2015, most of the virgin blocks are still waiting for statutory clearances.
Except Ghoraburhani-Sagasahi iron ore block in Koira tehsil of Sundargarh district, the first block to be auctioned in India under the amended provision in 2016, none of the virgin mines is ready for operation yet. The mining lease was granted to ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel (AMNS) India Ltd. The iron ore block was originally bagged by Essar Steel (acquired by AMNS India) through an auction in 2016.
All the 20 merchant mines whose lease period expired by March 2020 and were successfully put up for auction are running smoothly after the transfer of the clearances obtained by the previous leaseholders.
Additional chief secretary, Steel and Mines DK Singh raised the issue before Union Mines secretary VL Kantha Rao during the latter’s two-day visit to the state to take stock of the mines and mineral sector.
As a majority of the new mineral blocks are iron ore, the major hurdles faced by the new leaseholders pertain to land acquisition for compensatory afforestation, rehabilitation and resettlement. Singh reportedly requested the union secretary to resolve inter-ministerial issues like forest and environmental clearances and other logistic supports for the evacuation of minerals from the mining sites at the central level.